Irish Labour Party politics underwent a significant transformation during the period 1969–77. During these years, the party moved from a position of opposition to coalition and apparent support for socialist politics to involvement in a coalition government with Fine Gael and an abandonment of its previously stated goal, the thirty-two-county socialist republic. This paper locates the main factor behind this shift in Labour’s attachment to the institutions of the Republic of Ireland state. As that state was threatened by the crisis in Northern Ireland from 1969 onwards, so the Labour Party was compelled to shift ground politically and move towards agencies that could offer stability. This led to permanent shifts in Labour policy and strategy.