- Ulster: Conflict and Consent by Tom Wilson
Blackwell, 330 pp, £9.95, June 1989, ISBN 0 631 17006 5
- Biting at the grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair by Padraig O’Malley
Blackstaff, 330 pp, £9.95, October 1990, ISBN 0 85640 453 5
- Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland by Bob Purdie
Blackstaff, 286 pp, £9.95, September 1990, ISBN 0 85640 437 3
Tom Wilson’s Ulster counts among the handful of truly distinguished analyses of the Ulster question. However many reservations a Nationalist may have about his assumptions, his text offers an admirable basis for constructive debate: this is one of those rare books about a tragic problem that one wishes were longer. Its superior quality brings us up starkly against the bleakness of the problem. Wilson’s solution is that the IRA should he repressed by a variety of simultaneous measures, including internment, North and South, and that Nationalists should indefinitely postpone the attainment of their aspirations. Stressing the need for consensus on a future regime ‘that is universally supported, or nearly so’, he urges fair treatment for Nationalists within Northern Ireland. These proposals seem to me to be unrealistic, for three reasons.