Opposition Unity and Disunity

  • Ian McAllister


Many factors may converge to stimulate the formation and development of a political party and their weight in specific situations helps to determine the subsequent form that the party eventually takes. In Ulster a number of influences were at work in the late 1960s with the ability to shape new political alignments. Of all these potential influences, perhaps the most significant was negative: the constitutional arrangements. The adoption of the Westminster model of government in a divided society had resulted in a permanent government and opposition. The effect of this on Catholic politics was to militate against the establishment and consolidation of any tradition of parliamentary activity. In 1968 and 1969 those Catholics who primarily sought reform of the system rather than Irish unity therefore bypassed parliamentary politics by utilising street protest. Those that later stood for election on civil rights platforms did so as Independents, outside the already existing anti-partitionist political parties, and hence served as an impetus towards the reformation of the opposition groups.


Political Party Public Order Labour Party Opposition Group Irish Unity 
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  1. 6.
    For general accounts of the election, see Roger Scott, ‘The British General Election in Northern Ireland’, The Dalhousie Review, 5:2 (1970) pp. 249–61.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    See Barry White, ‘The SDLP’, Fortnight, 25 September 1970.Google Scholar

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© Ian McAllister 1977

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  • Ian McAllister

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