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The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970Between grievance and reconciliation$
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Christopher Norton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719059032

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719059032.001.0001

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(p.177) Conclusion
The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970

Christopher Norton

Manchester University Press

The conclusion considers the legacy of constitutional nationalist tradition. It recaps on its diverse ideological composition, ranging from conservative Catholic communalism to left-nationalism, and it discusses its political strategies and their limitations. It concludes that the strategic imperative of securing national unity above all else, and the excessive reliance on Dublin to facilitate this, did little to ameliorate Catholic disadvantage in Northern Ireland, in fact abstentionism tended to encourage a general disengagement from politics amongst many Catholics which added to a sense of hopelessness. Political disengagement also tended to reinforce a position which paid little regard to the necessity of engaging with, or accommodating, unionist opinion. The conclusion also considers the period of the late 1950s and 1960s when a number more liberally inclined nationalists sought to break with the political millenarianism of nationalist orthodoxy and reshape nationalism as a modernised, progressive movement free from ethnic labels and historical baggage: a pluralist nationalism. This attempt ultimately failed, but it is argued its novelty - a genuine attempt to move beyond the inertia of sectarian confrontation and an acknowledgement that consent and agreement must provide the basis of any reconciliation between Nationalism and Unionism - secures its place in contemporary history.

Keywords:   Catholic communalism, left-nationalism, millenarianism, nationalist orthodoxy, political disengagement, pluralist nationalism, reconciliation

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