Politics & Society in NI

Politics & Society in NI
Ireland in the UK
• From 1800-1920 the whole of island was part of the UK of Great Britain
and Ireland. Irish men elected 105 MPs to Westminster where they joined
550 English, Scottish and Welsh MPs to pass laws, decide on taxes and elect
a government for the whole of the UK.
• Irish people were divided whether the Union with Britain was good for the
- Those who opposed it were called nationalists
- The who supported it were called unionists
Nationalists & Unionists
• Most nationalists were Catholics who
made up 75 per cent of the island’s
• They felt Irish rather than British and
thought the Irish people, not British
should run the country
• Most of them thought the Irish economy
had suffered under the Union and that the
UK government had not treated Catholics
• Most Protestants were unionists. They were
25% of the population but were a local
majority in the north east of the island.
• They felt they were British as well as Irish as
many of their ancestors had come to live in
Ireland from Britain during the plantations
• They feared a Catholic dominated Irish
parliament would pass laws that would
discriminate against them in education, jobs
and religious practice.
Exam Questions:
• How was NI affected by developments in one or more of the following:
education; health; housing? (2013)
• How successful was the government of Northern Ireland in responding to
social and economic problems 1949-1969 (2008)
• What impact had the introduction of the welfare state to Northern Ireland
on one or more of the following: education; health; housing? (2007)
• During the period 1949-1969, what was the impact of the welfare state on
one or more of the following: education; health; housing? (2006)
Q: What was the impact of the Welfare Society
in NI
• 1. The Labour party won the British general election in 1945 and
immediately went about reforming the education, health, housing and social
welfare systems. The idea became accepted that the government had a
responsibility to look after the needs of their citizens in this area. The NI
economy could not afford these measures, but as part of the UK they were
subsidised by the British exchequer.
• 2. The changes in education were brought in under the Education Act,
1947. The Eleven Plus exams were introduced for the final year of primary
school. Depending on students’ performance they would be entitled to free
places in academic grammar schools or a practical education in a few
secondary modern school. Scholarships for university were also made
available. These reforms enabled young people from poor backgrounds to
receive an education. This particularly benefited the poorer catholic
community. An unexpected effect of this was that young educated Catholics
grew restless under unionist discrimination and began to agitate for their
civil rights.
• 3. The National Health Service set up in Northern Ireland in 1948 was a
revolution in health, providing free medical care for all patients. The catholic
Mater hospital did not get funding as the nuns who ran the hospital would
not accept being governed by the Hospitals Authority. TB was responsible
for half the deaths in the 15-25 age group during the 1940s. Health checkups and the use of new drugs reduced the death rate by 1954.
• 4. A comprehensive system of social welfare was introduced which
included children’s allowance, old age pensions and unemployment pay. This
generous system was based on a national insurance contribution which
employed people paid. It was key to the lifting of destitute families out of
• 5. The welfare state also helped to ease the housing crisis. This had
worsened during WWII due to the effects of the bombing of Belfast in
1941. The Northern Ireland Housing Trust built approximately 113,000
houses between 1945 and 1963. These were rented as a low rate to the poor.
• 6. A major problem emerged with the distribution of housing. In areas
where unionist councils feared losing power to catholic majorities, they
discriminated against Catholic when allocating houses. This allowed the
unionists to retain power, as only householders could vote in local elections.
Ultimately this injustice led to the creation of the civil rights movement.
• “Sean South” is a song about Seán South, a member of the Pearse
on Brookeborough barracks in 1957. The words were first published in
the Irish Catholic, the Irish weekly Roman Catholic newspaper, within a
week of South's death.[2]
• Contrary to popular belief, South was not actually from the area
of Garryowen, this being poetic licence on the part of the writer. The song
was written almost directly following the incident by Seamas O' Dufaigh,
of Aghamor, Co. Mayo. Seamus was interviewed on the TG4 Gaelic
language program "Comhra," on 13 February 2008. The song was
translated into Swedish in 2008 by musicians Björn Alling and Conny
Olsson. It has also been satirised in the Rubber Bandits rap song, "Up the
Previous exam questions:
• How effective was the contribution of Terence O’Neill to the affairs of
Northern Ireland? (2012)
• Who was the more effective leader of Northern Ireland, Brookeborough or
O’Neill? Argue your case, referring to both. (2009)
• What was the contribution of Terence O’Neill to the affairs of Northern
Ireland during the period 1949-1969? (2006)
Q: Compare Brookeborough and O’Neill in
their terms as Prime Minister of NI
1. Lord Brookeborough was Prime Minister of NI from 1943 to 1963. During his
term in office, the British government extended the modern welfare state and all
its benefits to the North. In agriculture, Britain also provided a ready market for
the state’s produce but numbers working in agriculture declined during the 1950s
due to improvements in machinery. Brookeborough, also faced the problem of the
decline of Northern Ireland’s two traditional industries, shipbuilding and linen.
Loans and grants were used to attract new industry through foreign investment.
This led to a period of strong economic growth between 1950 and 1962.
• 2. Northern Ireland was a disadvantaged area. It had 7% unemployment,
which contrasted with the prosperity of Britain and Western Europe.
Unemployment was higher in Catholic areas, especially Derry and Newry.
A traditional Unionist, Brookeborough was determined to uphold the
political position of unionists over nationalists. He was openly hostile to the
catholic community and made no effort to improve relations between the
two communities. Brookeborough was a firm leader and used the special
powers act to defeat the IRA’S border campaign.
In 1962, the economy declined. This led to the resignation of
Brookeborough. His critics had argued that he was too old for the post. He was
replaced by Terence O’Neill
• 3. O’Neill was to many people a breath of fresh air in NI. A moderniser
and moderate unionist who looked to build a new economy, he was the
first unionist leader to aim at improving relations with Catholics and the
Republic of Ireland. O’Neill’s appointed Professor Thomas Wilson to draw
up an economic plan for NI. The Wilson Plan set targets for economic
expansion. O’Neill’s government succeeded in bringing multinational
companies to the North and by 1965 the economic situation had improved.
There was 4% growth rate per year; 40,000 new jobs were created in the
1960s, but 25,000 were lost in the traditional industries. Most of the jobs
created, however, continued to go to protestant areas. Catholic hopes in
O’Neill also began to fade because of the Coleraine decision.
• 4. O’Neill made several symbolic moves to reconcile the two communities in
the North. He was the first northern Prime Minister to meet with an Irish
Taoiseach or visit catholic schools. He also supported ecumenical
movement which sought to improve relations between the Christian
churches. All these initiatives were attacked by Ian Paisley and his hard-line
followers. On the other hand Catholics demanded more substantial change.
O’Neill stuck in the middle, felt unable to grant the desired reforms of the
civil rights movement. Following the outbreak of violence in early 1969,
O’Neill lost the support of the Unionist party and resigned.
Dr. Conn and Patricia McCluskey
Austin Currie and Caledon protest
Background to Caledon
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-1968-9/1032caledon-protest/319335-caledon-civil-rights-campaign/
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-1968-9/1032caledon-protest/319306-interview-with-mrs-mccrystal/?page=1
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-1968-9/1032caledon-protest/319353-caledon/?page=1
• EVICTION: The Gildernews after their
eviction from Kinnard Park in 1968
March from Coalisland to Dungannon
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1033-first-civil-rights-march/319368-march-from-coalisland-todungannon/
Organising the First Civil Rights March
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1033-first-civil-rights-march/319369-organising-the-first-civil-rightsmarch/?page=1
First Civil Rights March 5th Oct 1968
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1034-derry-5-october-1968/319378-background-to-march/
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1034-derry-5-october-1968/319387-derry-civil-rightsdemonstration/?page=1
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1034-derry-5-october-1968/319394-civil-rights-riots/?page=1
University students march + counter
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1035-belfast-students-march/319492-belfast-paisleyites-stage-protest/
• http://www.rte.ie/archives/exhibitions/1031-civil-rights-movement-19689/1035-belfast-students-march/319499-belfast-student-demonstration-forcivil-rights/?page=1
Exam Q’s
• What was the significance of the Coleraine University controversy and/or
the activities of the Apprentice Boys of Derry? (2012)
• To what extent were the activities of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and/or
the choice of Coleraine as the site of NI’s second university divisive? (2009)
• Why was the choice of Coleraine as the site for NI’s second university
controversial? (2008)
• 1. The Northern Ireland PM Terence O’Neill wished to modernise the
economy and produce a more qualified workforce. Following on from the
Robbins Report on education in Britain, he formed the Lockwood
Committee in 1963 to decide on a new university for the North. The fact
that none of the 8 members of the committee were Catholic proved
controversial later on.
• 2. Derry, Coleraine, Armagh and Craigavon were all in contention , but there
was a general belief that Derry would win. It was NI’s second city and it
already had a third level institution, Magee College.
• 3. Lockwood not only recommended awarding the university to Coleraine,
but also called for Magee to be closed down. The protestant town of
Coleraine won on the basis that the town was free of sectarian tensions,
offered room for expansion and had local accommadation for students.
• 4. In January 1965, shortly before the official announcement, the rumour
spread that Derry had lost out. There was widespread dismay in Derry,
resulting in the setting up of the University for Derry Committee. It received
support from Derry Protestants and Catholics and protest meetings were
held. Following the decision, a 2000 vehicle motorcade travelled to Stormont
to register a protest.
• 5. The real controversy was that O’Neill accepted Lockwood’s
recommendation. He did not have to. Catholics believed that the decision
was motivated by sectarian bias. They argued that the more catholic part of
Northern Ireland, west of the Bann, was being purposefully neglected. This,
they claimed, fitted in with previous decisions regarding the location of new
factories and infrastructure.
• 6. This accusation of bias was taken up by Robert Nixon and Patrick
Gormley who stated that O’Neill had met with faceless grey men from Derry
and had conspired to keep the university out of Derry. A particular fear for
these unionists was that Derry’s population would swell leading to a loss of
political control for unionists. O’Neill denied the existence of any conspiracy,
but firm evidence later emerged that he had indeed met with these men.
How did the Troubles affect the Society and
Economy of NI?
• 1. Around 3700 people died directly as a result of the Troubles, with the great
majority of those being killed in Northern Ireland. Thousands more were injured.
This resulted in terrible trauma, grief and depression for the loved ones of the
victims. It also left bitterness and bred hatred, creating cycles of violence.
• 2. The troubles had a profoundly negative effect on relations between the protestant
and catholic communities. Northern Ireland had been a divided society beforehand,
as witnessed in the dominance of religiously affiliated schools. The troubles
widened this gap. This was particularly true of working class communities where
Catholics and Protestants lived in enclaves, often separated by peace walls. Socially,
mixing was discouraged and considered dangerous.
• 3. The unpredictable nature of violence during the troubles created tension and fear.
Life became difficult. The fear of a bombing or shooting was ever present. This was
again especially evident in poorer areas. Official policies such as internment also left
whole neighbourhoods living as if under a siege.
• 4. The troubles interfered with the daily lives of the average citizen. People were
searched, town centres were sealed off and travellers were held up at check points.
Caution has to be taken in regard to where one socialized, especially at night.
• 5. The economy was badly damaged by the troubles. Businesses had to repeatedly
close because they or their neighbours were bombed. Foreign multinationals chose
to invest elsewhere due to the instability. As the Protestants were the main
employers, unemployment was extremely high in the catholic population, over 30%
in many areas.
• 6. The British government became the biggest employer in Northern Ireland.
Large numbers of people were employed in the police, prison and security
forces, British subsidies were also vital to maintaining a decent living
standard, as expenditure in the north far exceeded the taxes raised within the
How did the Provisional IRA’S Campaign evolve during the
Troubles and how did the British Army and security Forces
react to deal with these threats?
• 1. The rioting of 1969 and anti-catholic programs in the North led to the
split in the IRA and Sinn Fein. From this split, Provisional Sinn Fein and the
Provisional IRA emerged. The initial goal of the IRA was to destabilise
Northern Ireland and bring down the unionist government in Stormont.
Their long term aim was to drive British armed forces out of Northern
Ireland and to create a 32 county republic.
• 2. In order to achieve these aims, the IRA started a bombing campaign of soft
targets in 1971. This primarily meant businesses and shops within Northern Ireland.
Brian Faulkner, the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, responded by announcing that
soldiers could ‘shoot with effect’ at anyone acting suspiciously. In August 1971
internment was introduced in an effort to defeat the IRA. Internees were
imprisoned in the Maidstone ship and in Long Kesh. Internment failed in its aims.
Reports of poor conditions and torture of internees actually increased support for
the IRA. Many innocent people were also arrested.
• 3. 1972 was the most deadly year of the troubles. Gun battles between IRA and the
security forces raged across Northern Ireland. The IRA received weapons and
explosives from sympathetic Irish Americans. Loyalist paramilitary groups such as
the UDA were murdering innocent Catholics, in revenge for IRA attacks on the
RUC. Despite this, the IRA and the loyalist paramilitaries usually did not target each
• 4. The fall of Stromont and the introduction of direct rules in Northern Ireland
was seen by the IRA as proof that their violent campaign was working. Therefore,
the IRA and Sinn Fein opposed the Sunningdale Agreement and welcomed its
failure. In September 1976, Roy Mason was appointed as Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland. He implemented two policies in an attempt to combat the IRA.
Ulsterisation involved decreasing the number of British troops in Northern Ireland
and increasing the role of the RUC and the UDR. Criminalisation meant that the
paramilitary prisoners would no longer be given special priviliges and would simply
be treated as criminals. Controversial interrogation techniques were also used in an
attempt to get confessions. Against this backdrop, the number of deaths decreased
and the IRA were forced to adapt.
• 5. By the late seventies, the takeover of the IRA by the younger generation was completed.
The leading figures were Gerry Adams, and Martin McGuinness. They accepted that the
British were not on the brink of withdrawing and decided to expand their campaign to
include attacks on British cities. They also ruthlessly decided to include in their attacks
anyone considered to be part of the British war machine. This included prison wardens and
judges and even civilians doing contract work. The IRA also adopted a loose-knit cellular
structure. This frustrated British attempts to crack the IRA through interrogation.
• 6. The H-Block Campaign was the most political aspect of the IRA’s war. It began in 1975
when parmilitary prisoners were told they had to wear prsion clothes. This became known
as being on the blanket. This later evolved into the dirty protest, where prisoners smeared
their faeces on to their cell walls. Finally in 1980, this led to the hunger strikes, which were
led by Bobby Sands. The hunger strikes gre great international attention and Sands was
elected as an MP. Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, took a hard line and refused
to negotiate. Sands and nine other prisoners died on hunger strike. Following the end of
their strike, the criminilisation policy was effectively ended. This was seen as a victory by the
• 7. Throughout the eighties and early nineties, the IRA continued its vicious
bombing campaign. From an IRA perspective, this included successes such as the
bombing of the Brighton hotel in 1984 and the bombing of the financial district of
London in 1992. The former killed a conservative MP and almost led to the death
of Margaret Thatcher. However, the IRA also lost a lot of the support they had
gained during the hunger strikes because of the ruthlessness of their tactics. The
murder of innocent civilians outraged the British and Irish public. Infamous
incidents included the Guildford bombing in 1984 and the Warrington bombing in
1993. Meanwhile, the SAS and the RUC tried to increase the pressure on the IRA by
utilising controversial shoot to kill policies. They also attempted to get IRA
members convicted by using the so called supergrass system, which involved the use
of information from former IRA members. This only had limited success.
• 8. By the late eighties, many leading republicans realised that the British were not going to
simply walk away from Northern Ireland. The determination of the British and Irish
governments to continue with the Anglo-Irish agreement also made many realise that
political solutions were possible. The Hume-Adams talks stemmed from this reality.
• 9. Albert Reynolds’ appointment as Taoiseach brought an IRA ceasefire closer. He was the
first leader of either country to publicly acknowledge that peace could not be achieved
without the consent of Sinn Fein and the IRA. Meanwhile, Thatcher had departed and her
successor, John Major, realised that he could not defeat the IRA by military means. Finally,
Major and Reynolds produced the Downing Street Declaration in December 1993. This
created a political path forward for all parties, and led the IRA and the loyalist paramilitaries
to declare ceasefires.
Provisional IRA
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqmbWuaTJvE
James Nesbitt-Bloody Sunday 1972
• http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/james-nesbittgrowing-up-i-knew-what-bloody-sunday-meant-2001674.html
• Movie
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj5lSBMyUfY
Death figures-NI Troubles
• http://www.wesleyjohnston.com/users/ireland/past/troubles/troubles_stats

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