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The Ulster question in international politics, 1968-1978

McKinley, Michael

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This thesis has three general concerns. They relate to the processes by which the Ulster Question became 'internationalised'; the extent to which it became an international issue; and, the extent to which it was subject to international influences. In 1968, the island of Ireland had been partitioned for some forty-seven years into two states: a twenty-six county, predominantly Catholic, Republic; and a six county, mainly Protestant, state — Northern Ireland — which was constitutionally...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorMcKinley, Michael
dc.date.accessioned2014-01-21T01:30:11Z
dc.date.available2014-01-21T01:30:11Z
dc.identifier.otherb12525145
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/11198
dc.description.abstractThis thesis has three general concerns. They relate to the processes by which the Ulster Question became 'internationalised'; the extent to which it became an international issue; and, the extent to which it was subject to international influences. In 1968, the island of Ireland had been partitioned for some forty-seven years into two states: a twenty-six county, predominantly Catholic, Republic; and a six county, mainly Protestant, state — Northern Ireland — which was constitutionally subordinate to the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster. Within the latter, the minority Catholic community had been subjected to various forms of discrimination, including infringements and deprivations of their civil rights. As a result, a campaign was mounted to remedy their grievances. In these terms, therefore, the issue at stake was essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the United Kingdom Government. The civil rights campaign, however, provoked extreme Unionists (also known as Loyalists) to respond violently. Civil disturbances thus became common, and on such a scale that it was only a short period before the real questions were not of civil rights, but of the continued existence of the state of Northern Ireland and the political re-integration of the island itself. In this transformation, the central roles were played by the governments of Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Through the years 1968 — 1978, both made approaches to the 'national' question and failed. Yet they failed, not because the problem was demonstrably insoluble, but because neither individually nor together did they adopt the type of policies which may have brought success, albeit limited. The conduct of Anglo-Irish relations, therefore, was one of the great sadnesses of modern Ireland. Outside of the politics between these two countries, the Ulster Question diminished in importance. Despite occasions when the world seemed genuinely shocked or revolted by what was happening in the North and despite attempts by the Irish Government to win international support for various of its objectives there, the community of states simply did not regard the Ulster Question as an issue which required anything approaching a sustained attention and activity. The 'troubles', evidently, were such a morass that it had no wish to enter — besides which, to have done so was to risk offending one of the central parties. Even in the area of international organisation this was true, except that here, the question proved more amenable to atomisation, and so pressing aspects of it frequently gained a currency, particularly in the forums of Europe. Notwithstanding the overall response of states to the Ulster Question in its entirety, there were instances of quite sustained interest being shown in the conflict it gave rise to. Libya was thus prominent for a period, for the financial and other assistance it provided to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. So, too, were several non-state actors who were similarly inclined, such as the Irish- American support network in the United States, and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Their contributions, however, substantial as they might have been in terms of cash and arms, did not change in any major way the direction or the magnitude of the unique war being waged within (and sometimes without) the Six Counties. It is, therefore, a central conclusion of this thesis that the Ulster Question was an issue of but limited international significance. As long as Ireland is partitioned it is certain to remain as an outstanding question for only two countries, Britain and Ireland. But as long as Northern Ireland continues to provide a situation within its recent and current dimensions — i.e. one that can, for all practical purposes, be kept at some distance by its European neighbours — it will also remain on the periphery of international concern. Hence, it may be Ireland's misfortune to compare unfavourably with various contemporary misfortunes — such as Vietnam or the Middle East — and to be deprived of urgent considerations and initiatives. But this at least throws the Ulster Question back upon those who are most intimately concerned with it. In the final analysis it is a question which requires both an Irish and, perhaps inappropriately and perversely, a British answer.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.titleThe Ulster question in international politics, 1968-1978
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorMillar, Tom
dcterms.valid1981
local.description.notesSupervisor: Dr Tom Millar. This thesis has been made available through exception 200AB to the Copyright Act.
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued1981
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University, Department of International Relations
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d74e558ab669
local.mintdoimint
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