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Abstract

For some things individual action, as opposed to organised collective action, is clearly more capable of realising the political aims of a group or community. The use of collective action through the medium of a political party is a recognition of changing circumstances and the emergence of a new set of aims, in the attainment of which organisation becomes a vital weapon. Without a practical, realisable goal, therefore, there is obviously little to gain in maintaining an organisation. As the aim of the Ulster Nationalist Party, Irish unity, was unobtainable through normal constitutional means, they possessed no motive to organise. The shift in political priorities precipitated by the SDLP introduced the concept of Catholic participation in the running of the state as a primary political objective. In the pursuit of this end organisation was assumed to be vital to maximise the Catholic community’s political strength. The SDLP’s institutional structure is thus important, not only in assessing the role it has played in the party’s overall impact on the Northern Ireland political system, but in gauging how the general political environment has affected the organisation’s evolution and operation.

Keywords

Trade Union Executive Committee Annual Conference District Council Irish Unity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    SDLP, Party Constitution, (Belfast: SDLP, 1976) p. 1. The full constitution is also reproduced in the Appendix.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ulster figure from David Bleakley, ‘The Northern Ireland Trade Union Movement’, Journal of the Social and Statistical Inquiry Society of Ireland, 19 (1953–54) p. 164. British figure from Robert McKenzie, British Political Parties, (London: Heinemann, 1970) p. 484. Republic’s figure from Basil Chubb, The Government and Politics of Ireland, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 90.Google Scholar
  3. Ulster figure from David Bleakley, ‘The Northern Ireland Trade Union Movement’, Journal of the Social and Statistical Inquiry Society of Ireland, 19 (1953–54) p. 164. British figure from Robert McKenzie, British Political Parties, (London: Heinemann, 1970) p. 484. Republic’s figure from Basil Chubb, The Government and Politics of Ireland, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 90.Google Scholar
  4. Ulster figure from David Bleakley, ‘The Northern Ireland Trade Union Movement’, Journal of the Social and Statistical Inquiry Society of Ireland, 19 (1953–54) p. 164. British figure from Robert McKenzie, British Political Parties, (London: Heinemann, 1970) p. 484. Republic’s figure from Basil Chubb, The Government and Politics of Ireland, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 90.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    John Graham, ‘The Consensus Forming Strategy of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, 1949–68’ (Belfast: unpublished Queen’s University MSSc thesis, 1972) p. 247.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Michael McKeown, ‘SDLP: All Kinds of People’, Hibernia, 24 January 1975.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Leon D. Epstein, Political Parties in Western Democracies, (New York: Praeger, 1967) p. 293.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    For an authoritative study of pre-1973 elections in Northern Ireland, see Sydney Elliott, ‘The Electoral System in Northern Ireland Since 1920’ (Belfast: unpublished Queen’s University PhD thesis, 1971) 2 vols.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Michael Laver, ‘On Introducing STV and Interpreting the Results: the Case of Northern Ireland, 1973–75’, Parliamentary Affairs, 29:2 (1976) p. 218.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Calculated from R. J. Lawrence et al., The Northern Ireland General Elections of 1973, (London: HMSO, Cmnd. 5851, 1975) Table 36.Google Scholar
  11. Ian McAllister, The 1975 Northern Ireland Convention Election, (Glasgow: Survey Research Centre Occasional Paper No. 14, 1975) Table III. 7.Google Scholar
  12. 16.
    Ian McAllister, ‘Social Influences on Voters and Non-Voters: a Note on Two Northern Ireland Elections’, Political Studies, 24:4 (1976) pp. 462–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 17.
    See Carrick James Market Research, Northern Ireland: Reaction to the White Paper and Other Subjects, (London: mimeo, 1973) Table 18.Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Brian Wilson, ‘The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland: a Study of a Bi-Confessional Party’ (Glasgow: unpublished University of Strathclyde MSc dissertation, 1976) Table 1. In December 1972 the membership stood at 8670, but thereafter central figures were no longer recorded.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ian McAllister 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian McAllister

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