Northern Irelands Lost Opportunity: The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism

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I must also include Graham Walker and Eamon Phoenix here. These meetings were so important to my knowledge and my development. To Jeanette and Mark Ervine, who spent so much time sharing their lives with me, thank you so much. Your friendship and help was invaluable. I want to thank Monica McWilliams. Her belief in me and her great support over the years has made all the difference. Thank you. Harry Donaghy and all those around the Messines Project in Belfast deserve special mention. Many is the time I sat with Harry and others at the John Hewitt suffering from self-doubt.

Through the intense Friday afternoon discussions over the past four years, Harry, among others, encouraged me to carry on and gave me great insights, thoughts to consider and criticisms I could not ignore. I hope I have left no one out. I cannot leave out Mairead Collins.

She was instrumental in helping me with the transcripts and without her aid I would still be doing them, and this book would be another few years down the road.


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Our mutual friend Margaret Hagan deserves mention also. We have worked together since with Margaret always providing critical and probing questions and forcing me to focus my argument. Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin has been a great support through this. She has engaged me intellectually from the start and has given me the opportunity to present my research in America. Louis Edmondson also deserves my thanks. His skeptical views and sharp questions forced me to ensure that my argument was a strong and valid one, and that it could hold up to the harshest criticisms.

They were a great help in getting the materials I needed for my research.


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Two people who really deserve my thanks are Tony and Karen. Over the past four years, they have given me unlimited use of their house in Belfast and, more importantly, their friendship. Dennis also deserves thanks. In , he provided me with a place to stay and introduced me to some people who became very important in the completion this book. Special and heartfelt thanks to my brother Mike, sisters Rose and Anita, and especially my father, Tony, for support throughout my life and this project.

You were all wonderful and a great source of inspiration. The support I received in the department helped make this book possible. In particular Bill, as he has done since I first met him in , went above and beyond the call of duty.

Jim McDonald | UVF: Behind the Mask

He took the entire manuscript, corrected punctuation, grammar and style, and pointed out inconsistencies and weaknesses while also providing very good suggestions for strengthening the book. If I tried to list everyone, it would go on for pages. A final thanks to all the people who saved me from making errors in this work. I appreciate all your help. If any errors do remain, they are my responsibility and mine alone.

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Beyond the Religious Divide UDA document published in putting forth ideas on how to unify the two communities in Northern Ireland. The Catholics viewed the B-Specials with great loathing, while the Protestant population tended to view them as their front line against republicanism. Common Sense UDA document published in calling for a government with proportional representation, a bill of rights and voluntary power sharing.

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Criminalisation Policy instituted in by the British government. It sought to portray anyone involved in violent activities as part of the Troubles as ordinary criminals. The goal of the government was to split the paramilitaries, in particular the IRA, from their support base by portraying them as common criminals; not freedom fighters. Democratic Unionist Party Party founded by the Rev. Ian Paisley in Initially was to be a party that was to the right on the border, but on the left in social issues. H-Blocks Cellblocks built in the Maze prison to house prisoners beginning in They were named because of their shape.

Located in Lisburn, about seven miles from Belfast. Loyalist Mainly working class Protestants who fought to maintain the Union with Great Britain through the armed struggle. Prior to this conflict, this term was used to refer to all those who wanted to maintain the Union with Great Britain. Orange Order Founded in Exclusively Protestant organisation its purpose is to promote and propagate biblical Protestantism. Its annual marches are still a source of contention and violence. Proportional representation Voting system in which the share of seats held by a political party closely matches the share of popular votes that the party receives.

The British put this in place at the creation of the Northern Ireland state to ensure fair representation for the Catholic population. Eliminated in in local elections and for the National Elections. Now used in elections in Northern Ireland. Sharing Responsibility Policy document developed over a period of ten to twelve years by the UVF, the RHC and members of the PUP that called for a devolved power-sharing government and an end to strictly majority rule. Stormont Seat of government in Northern Ireland.

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Tara Fundamentalist Presbyterian group preparing for the final, apocalyptic struggle with Catholicism, communism, liberalism, etc. Unionist Term used for those, mainly middle and upper class Protestants, who supported the maintenance of the Union with Britain though constitutional and political means, and who distanced themselves from working class and physical force Loyalism.

This party ruled Northern Ireland throughout most of its history. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry. In all, more than people were killed as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland in , which proved to be the deadliest single year in the Troubles.

Northern Ireland's Troubles - Walls of Shame

That total included more than fatalities for the British army, as the IRA escalated its onslaught. Meanwhile, paramilitary violence at mid-decade —76 resulted in the civilian deaths of some Catholics and 88 Protestants. A glimmer of hope was offered by the Sunningdale Agreement , named for the English city in which it was negotiated in That agreement led to the creation of a new Northern Ireland Assembly, with proportional representation for all parties, and to the establishment of a Council of Ireland, which was to provide a role for Ireland in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Frustrated by the diminution of their political power and furious at the participation of the republic, loyalists scuttled the power-sharing plan with a general strike that brought the province to a halt in May and eventually forced a return to direct rule, which remained in place for some 25 years. For the remainder of the decade, violence ebbed and flowed, cease-fires lingered and lapsed, and tit-for-tat bombings and assassinations continued, including the high-profile killing at sea in August of Lord Mountbatten , a relative of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

In the opening of the specially designed Maze prison brought with it a shift in the treatment of IRA inmates from that of prisoners of war to that of common criminals. The government of recently elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to buckle, even in the face of hunger strikes in —81 that led to the deaths of 10 prisoners, including Bobby Sands , who had won a seat in the British Parliament while incarcerated and fasting.

The accord also established the Intergovernmental Conference, which gave Ireland a consultative role in the political and security affairs of Northern Ireland for the first time. Finally, the agreement stipulated that power would be devolved back upon the government of Northern Ireland only if unionists and nationalists participated in power sharing. In the meantime, IRA bombings in London made headlines, and the reach of the British security forces extended to the killing of three Provos in Gibraltar. Behind the scenes, however, negotiations were underway.

Nevertheless, the unionists were at the table, prepared to consider a solution that included the participation of the republic of Ireland. Those talks, mediated by former U. That landmark accord provided for the creation of a power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly, established an institutional arrangement for cross-border cooperation between the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland on a range of issues, and lay the groundwork for continued consultation between the British and Irish governments. On May 22 Ireland and Northern Ireland held a joint referendum on the agreement, which was approved by 94 percent of those who voted in the republic and 71 percent of those voting in Northern Ireland, where Catholic approval of the accord 96 percent was much higher than Protestant assent 52 per cent.

Nonetheless, it was an IRA splinter group, the Real Irish Republican Army , which most dramatically violated the spirit of the agreement, with a bombing in Omagh in August that took 29 lives. That month the republic of Ireland modified its constitution, removing its territorial claims to the whole of the island, and the United Kingdom yielded direct rule of Northern Ireland.

Ostensibly the Troubles had come to end, but, though Northern Ireland began its most tranquil era in a generation, the peace was fragile. Sectarian antagonism persisted, the process of decommissioning was slow on both sides, and the rolling out of the new institutions was fitful, resulting in suspensions of devolution and the reimposition of direct rule. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

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Written By: Jeff Wallenfeldt. The Troubles events.

Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The Troubles also took the form of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland, polarizing the Protestant and Catholic communities, each of which…. Northern Ireland , part of the United Kingdom, lying in the northeastern quadrant of the island of Ireland, on the western continental periphery often characterized as Atlantic Europe.

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Northern Ireland is sometimes referred to as Ulster, although it includes only six of the nine counties which made up that historic Irish…. The Protestant Heritage , Protestantism originated in the 16th-century Reformation, and its basic doctrines, in addition to those of the ancient Christian creeds, are justification by grace alone through faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the supremacy of Holy Scripture in matters of faith and order.

See details. See all 3 brand new listings. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. In an unorthodox account, that disputes the idea that loyalism was apolitical and sectarian, Tony Novosel argues that loyalist groups, seen as implacable enemies by Republicans and the left, developed a political analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict in the s which involved a compromise peace with all political parties and warring factions - something that historians and writers have largely ignored. Additional Product Features Number of Volumes.

Novosel's study of the UVF and its attempts to develop a politicised loyalism challenges the standard one-dimensional representation of loyalism that so dominates the media and popular imagination. A well-researched history based on extensive contacts with key players, this is a welcome addition to the emerging body of work on loyalism.

A necessary, serious and informative read. He demonstrates that some Loyalists offered hope when hope was most needed but faced constant obstruction by those challenged by their 'new thinking'. Novosel exposes the limitation of commonly held views that loyalism was apolitical and merely sectarian. The book's significance also lies in the depth of its scholarship. Hopefully it will remind those studying Northern Ireland that loyalists played and continue to play a significant role in peacebuilding. This warts-and-all account is a vital read.