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Abstention (August 1971 to March 1972)

  • Ian McAllister

Abstract

For a constitutional political party, parliamentary abstention is always an available option when normal procedures for bringing change fail to match expectations. The difficulties in making it a successful tactic are obvious, for the constitutional party becomes a revolutionary party in that what it seeks is nothing less than a change in the structure of the system on its own terms. As abstention by-passes the normal channels of debate and compromise, the two remaining alternatives both encompass the actual or threatened use of force. One means is that of the armed revolutionary force, using explicit violence to challenge the state on the party’s behalf, the second a mass civil disobedience campaign orchestrated by the party or its supporters and deploying the implicit threat of violence. Neither is likely to be effective in isolation: co-ordination by a central body that will also disseminate propaganda is crucial.

Keywords

Civil Disobedience Security Force British Government Unionist Government Direct Rule 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    John McGuffin, Internment, (Tralee: Anvil, 1973) p. 86.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Figures supplied by the RUC Press Office. For the contrary view on internment, see Unionist Party, The Case for Internment, (Belfast: Unionist Party, 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Quoted in Gary MacEoin, Northern Ireland: Captive of History, (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1974) p. 256.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Joe Boyle et al., ‘Respondents’ Perceptions of the Causes of the Northern Ireland Conflict’ (Belfast: Attitudes in Ireland Report No. 4, mimeo, 1976) Tables 2 and 3.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Joe Boyle et al., ‘Summary Tables of Attitudes in Northern Ireland’ (Belfast: Attitudes in Ireland Report No. 1, mimeo, 1976) Table 81.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Terence Carroll, ‘Political Activists in Disaffected Communities: Dissidence, Disobedience and Rebellion in Northern Ireland’ (Ottowa: unpublished University of Carleton PhD thesis, 1974) p. 338.Google Scholar
  7. 28.
    J. C. Beckett, The Making of Modern Ireland, 1603–1923, (London: Faber, 1973) pp. 446–7.Google Scholar
  8. 29.
    Robert Taber, The War of the Flea, (St Albans: Paladin, 1972) p. 130.Google Scholar
  9. 35.
    John Whyte, The Reform of Stormont, (Belfast: New Ulster Movement, 1971).Google Scholar
  10. 51.
    Conor Cruise O’Brien, States of Ireland, (London: Hutchinson, 1972) p. 276.Google Scholar
  11. 52.
    Peter Pyne, ‘The Third Sinn Féin Party, 1923–26: Part 2, Factors Contributing to Collapse’, Economic and Social Review, 1:2 (1970) p. 230.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ian McAllister 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian McAllister

There are no affiliations available

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