Advertisement

Northern Ireland: The Union and Devolution

  • Paul Ward

Abstract

There is a certain irony in the fact that the most devout supporters of the Union between 1921 and 1972 inhabited the one part of the United Kingdom that had legislative devolution. In Northern Ireland, as elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the construction of distinctive political and cultural identities was compatible with the existence of the Union. Northern Ireland had been created in the British government’s attempt to disengage from Irish politics after the First World War and Ulster Unionists, who had not asked for a separate parliament, came to see its establishment as enabling them to defend their Britishness in a potentially hostile political situation in Britain. Captain Charles Craig, brother of James, the first Northern Irish Prime Minister, gave the House of Commons at Westminster a clear explanation of how the Ulster Unionists saw their position:

We would much prefer to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom. We have prospered, we have made our province prosperous under the union … We do not in any way desire to recede from a position which has been in every way satisfactory to us, but we have many enemies in this country, and we feel that an Ulster without a parliament of its own would not be in nearly as strong a position as one in which a parliament had been set up … We profoundly distrust the labour party and we profoundly distrust the right hon. gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr Asquith) … We see our safety, therefore, in having a parliament of our own.1

Keywords

Labour Party Unionist Government Home Rule Unionist Party Catholic Community 
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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    House of Commons Debates, vol. 127, cols 989–90, 29 March 1920, in Patrick Buckland, Irish Unionism 2: Ulster Unionism and the Origins of Northern Ireland, 1886–1922 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1973), pp. 116–17.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gillian McIntosh, The Force of Culture: Unionist Identities in Twentieth-Century Ireland (Cork: Cork University Press, 1999), pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Quoted in Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1992), p. 513.Google Scholar
  4. See also David Officer, ‘In Search of Order, Permanence and Stability: Building Stormont, 1921–32’, in Richard English and Graham Walker (eds), Unionism in Modern Ireland: New Perspectives on Politics and Culture (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 130–47Google Scholar
  5. and James Loughlin, ‘Consolidating “Ulster”: Regime Propaganda and Architecture in the Inter-war Period’, National Identities, 1 (1999), pp. 161–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    Jack Santino, Signs of War and Peace (New York: Palgrave, 2001).Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    D. George Boyce and Alan O’Day, ‘The Union: Introduction’, in D. George Boyce and Alan O’Day (eds), Defenders of the Union: A Survey of British and Irish Unionism since 1801 (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 7.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    This section is based on, among other works, Paul Bew, Ideology and the Irish Question: Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism 1912–1916 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994);Google Scholar
  9. D. George Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland, second edition (London: Routledge, 1991)Google Scholar
  10. and Alvin Jackson, Ireland 1798–1998: Politics and War (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    See Thomas Hennessey, Dividing Ireland: World War 1 and Partition (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 22.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    For a repudiation of the ‘place apart’ epithet see D. George Boyce, ‘Northern Ireland: A Place Apart?’ in Eamonn Hughes (ed.), Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland 1960–1990 (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991), pp. 13–25.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    Patrick Buckland, The Factory of Grievances: Devolved Government in Northern Ireland1921–39 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1979), p. 30.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    For the argument that the nationalist parties in Northern Ireland were in fact frequently Catholic parties see Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland: The Orange State (London: Pluto, 1976), p. 116.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Eamon Phoenix, Northern Nationalism: Nationalist Politics, Partition and the Catholic Minority in Northern Ireland1890–1940 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1994).Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Alvin Jackson, ‘Irish Unionism, 1870–1922’, in Boyce and O’Day, Defenders of the Union, p. 121. See also Patrick Buckland, Irish Unionism 1: The Anglo-Irish and the New Ireland, 1885–1922 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1972).Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Patrick Buckland, Irish Unionism1885–1922 (London: Historical Association, 1973), pp. 39–40.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    D.G. Boyce, ‘“The Marginal Britons”: The Irish,’ in Robert Colls and Philip Dodd (eds), Englishness: Politics and Culture1880–1920 (London: Croom Helm, 1986), p. 233.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    See Keith Jeffery (ed.), ‘An Irish Empire’? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    F.S.L. Lyons, Ireland since the Famine (London: Fontana, 1973), p. 221.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Alvin Jackson, ‘Unionist Myths 1912–1985’, Past and Present, 136 (1992), p. 164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 23.
    This section relies on James Loughlin, Ulster Unionism and British National Identity since 1885 (London: Pinter, 1995), pp. 78–84Google Scholar
  23. and Keith Jeffery, Ireland and the Great War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 56–7, 133–4.Google Scholar
  24. See also Adrian Gregory and Senia Paseta (eds), Ireland and the Great War: ‘A War to Unite Us All?’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    David W. Miller, Queen’s Rebels: Ulster Loyalism in Historical Perspective (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1978).Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Graham Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), p. 284.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    Arthur Aughey, Under Siege: Ulster Unionism and the Anglo-Irish Agreement (London: Hurst, 1989), chapter 1.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    See Ian McBride, ‘Ulster and the British Problem’, in English and Walker, Unionism in Modern Ireland, pp. 1–18 and Paul Ward, Britishness since 1870 (London: Routledge, 2004). As a contemporary example, Aughey’s defence of Unionism happily takes up Bikhu Parekh’s reworking of Britishness as a civic identity that can accommodate ethnic identities: Under Siege, p. 18.Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    Belfast Telegraph, 23 November 1959, in Andrew Gailey, Crying in the Wilderness: Jack Sayers, A Liberal Editor in Ulster, 1939–1969 (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, 1995), p. 57. See also Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party.Google Scholar
  30. 34.
    Thomas Hennessey, A History of Northern Ireland1920–1996 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997), p. 11.Google Scholar
  31. 37.
    Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland 1921–1994: Political Forces and Social Classes (London: Serif, 1995).Google Scholar
  32. See also Bob Purdie, ‘The Demolition Squad: Bew, Gibbon and Patterson on the Northern Ireland State’, in Seán Hutton and Paul Stewart (eds), Ireland’s Histories: Aspects of State, Society and Ideology (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 164–76.Google Scholar
  33. 38.
    British Conservatives also feared the working class electorate after 1918 for the same reasons, see David Jarvis, ‘British Conservatism and Class Politics in the 1920s’, English Historical Review, 111 (1996), pp. 59–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 40.
    Loyal and patriotic workers, often ex-servicemen, were important in postwar politics throughout the British Empire, see for example Raymond Evans, Loyalty and Disloyalty: Social Conflict on the Queensland Homefront, 1914–1918 (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1987).Google Scholar
  35. 45.
    Brian Barton, ‘Northern Ireland: The Impact of War, 1939–45’, in Brian Girvin and Geoffrey Roberts (eds), Ireland and the Second World War: Politics, Society and Remembrance (Dublin: Four Courts, 2000), p. 74.Google Scholar
  36. 47.
    Quoted in Hennessey, History of Northern Ireland, p. 98. See also Brian Barton, ‘The Impact of World War II on Northern Ireland and Belfast-London Relations’, in Peter Catterall and Sean McDougall (ed.), The Northern Ireland Question in British Politics (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 61–66Google Scholar
  37. and Peter Rose, How the Troubles Came to Northern Ireland (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul Ward 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Ward

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations