Office-Seeking (April 1972–June 1973)

  • Ian McAllister


The degree of political allegiance shown to a regime is never constant, and the political environment at any one time helps to determine its extent and depth. Shortly before the advent of the disturbances in 1969, about one-third of Ulster’s Catholic community were recorded as withholding consent from the province’s constitution, although the overwhelming majority were prepared to comply with its basic political laws.1 Up until mid-1973 the disturbances emphasised the regime’s lack of consent, but in addition exposed the small number of Catholics willing to pursue violent non-compliance and the larger number ready to endorse non-violent protest. In 1971 and 1972 the SDLP’s policy of parliamentary abstention gave expression to this lack of consent, but it also prevented them from fulfilling their self-defined role of negotiating on behalf of the Catholic community. The inability to carry out this function, plus the activities of Catholic paramilitary groups, served to eclipse the SDLP and emphasise their impotence while existing policies and institutions remained unaltered.


Political Group Green Paper Civil Disobedience Direct Rule Assembly Election 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 10.
    Cf. Pablo Pistoi, ‘Conflict in Northern Ireland: Operation Motorman in Ballymurphy’ (Colchester: unpublished University of Essex MA dissertation, 1972).Google Scholar
  2. 16.
    SDLP, Towards a New Ireland, (Belfast: SDLP, 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    T. E. Utley, Lessons of Ulster, (London: Dent, 1975) p. 97.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Northern Ireland Office, The Future of Northern Ireland, (London: HMSO, 1972) para. 40.Google Scholar
  5. 31.
    840 HC Deb, 5s, C722 (6 July 1972). For an exhaustive analysis of the poll, see R. J. Lawrence and S. Elliott, The Northern Ireland Border Poll, 1973, (London: HMSO, Cmnd. 5875, 1975).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ian McAllister 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian McAllister

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations