Chapter

Politics and Society, 1800–1960

James Loughlin

in Ulster Since 1600

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199583119
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744822 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583119.003.0015
Politics and Society, 1800–1960

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The primary political division in Ulster is that between unionist and nationalist. Politically and constitutionally, the Act of Union was the great legislative landmark in Ireland between 1800 and 1920. In the decades after the Union there are instances of interdenominational co-operation but also of increasing political polarisation. Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the growth of nationalism, the resurgence of the Orange Order, the widely-held Protestant belief that the Union underpinned economic progress all contributed to this. This polarisation became especially obvious after Gladstone's conversion to Home Rule in 1885. The militarisation of the unionist-nationalist conflict between 1912 and 1914, and the concentration of unionists in the north-east, pointed towards partition, as did the Sinn Fein victory in the 1918 General Election. An accumulation of unaddressed nationalist grievances found effective expression in the civil rights campaign of the 1960s and gave rise to unprecedented challenges to the government of Northern Ireland.

Keywords: act of union; nationalism; unionism; Orange Order; Sinn Fein; Catholic Emancipation; civil rights; Gladstone; liberalism; polarisation

Chapter.  8502 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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