On the Window Ledge of the Union
- BuyBelfast 400: People, Place and History edited by S.J. Connolly
Liverpool, 392 pp, £14.95, November 2012, ISBN 978 1 84631 634 0
- BuyUlster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society edited by Liam Kennedy and Philip Ollerenshaw
Oxford, 355 pp, £35.00, November 2012, ISBN 978 0 19 958311 9
- The Plantation of Ulster: Ideology and Practice edited by Eamonn O Ciardha and Micheál O Siochrú
Manchester, 269 pp, £70.00, October 2012, ISBN 978 0 7190 8608 3
- The End of Ulster Loyalism? by Peter Shirlow
Manchester, 230 pp, £16.99, May 2012, ISBN 978 0 7190 8476 8
‘For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country.’ Visiting Northern Ireland as home secretary in 1970, Reginald Maudling, whose mellow moderation verged on a slothful desire for an easy life, was understandably exasperated by the Ulster problem – but no more so than a long line of politicians, before and since. Churchill – not so easily depicted as a faint-heart – lamented in the aftermath of the First World War that, while the cataclysm had transformed the rest of Europe, the Ulster question remained as intractable as ever and politicians would once more have to pay attention to the ‘dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone’.
Vol. 35 No. 5 · 7 March 2013
From James Grainger
Colin Kidd, discussing Ulster’s failure to develop the same class-based politics as the rest of the UK, mentions the role of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) and states that ‘just as it had emerged as the official opposition in Stormont it was overwhelmed by the onset of the Troubles’ (LRB, 7 February). In fact it became the official opposition after the Stormont elections in 1958 when it won four seats in the 52-seat parliament with about 16 per cent of the popular vote (thanks mainly to defections of Protestant workers from the Unionist Party). After an increase in its share of the popular vote in 1962 (though it didn’t gain any seats), it slumped in November 1965 and ended up with just two seats. In February 1965, the Nationalist Party had agreed to become the official opposition. In the February 1969 elections, on the cusp of the Troubles, Paddy Devlin won the Falls seat for the NILP in West Belfast, but defected to become a founding member of the SDLP the following year.
In fact, the NILP’s fortunes as a genuinely non-sectarian party had already begun to decline in 1949 following its decision to back partition, resulting in widespread desertion by Catholic voters.
Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire