Fur-Coat Unionism: Dame Dehra Parker (1882–1963)

  • Paul Ward

Abstract

Ronald MacNeill, in what amounts to the official history of Ulster Unionism before partition, paid tribute to ‘The women of Ulster [who] were scarcely less active than the men in the matter of organization. Although, of course, as yet unenfranchised, they took as a rule a keener interest in political matters — meaning thereby the absorbing question of the Union — than their sex in other parts of the United Kingdom.’1 Yet MacNeill devoted only one and half pages to women’s Unionism. Mainly because women were kept in subordinate and auxiliary positions within the movement, the sources for examination of the day-to-day politics of women’s unionism are sparse and women have been largely absent from the historiography of Ulster Unionism.2 Women in the north of Ireland were, however, a significant force in the spread of unionist ideas outside the normal channels of masculine politics. They strengthened unionist ideas within the home and in voluntary organizations.3 After 1910, with the Irish MPs holding the balance of power in the House of Commons, the urgency of the threat of Home Rule did afford women a greater role in Unionism. Dehra Parker was one such woman. After the accomplishment of the exclusion of the six counties from Home Rule and the formation of Northern Ireland women’s role in politics was restricted, as the running of the state fell overwhelmingly into the hands of men.

Keywords

Europe Drilling Assure Defend Folk 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ronald MacNeill, Ulster’s Stand for the Union (London: John Murray, 1922), p. 37.Google Scholar
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© Paul Ward 2005

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  • Paul Ward

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