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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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The politics of abstentionism, 1932–39

The politics of abstentionism, 1932–39

(p.8) 1 The politics of abstentionism, 1932–39
The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970

Christopher Norton

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the trajectory of constitutional nationalist politics following the decision of the constitutional nationalist party, the National League of the North, to walk out of the Northern Ireland parliament in 1932. The tactic of parliamentary abstentionism is located in the context of increased Unionist insecurity, heightened sectarianism, and raised nationalist expectations following on from the election of Eamon de Valera’s ostensibly more republican Fianna Fail party in the Irish Free State. The chapter reveals how the successor political organisations to the National League were profoundly restricted both by a political sclerosis resulting from parliamentary inactivity, and an anti-partitionist ideological rigidity that anticipated an imminent end to partition. It considers the obstacles this presented to attempts to address Catholic grievances in Northern Ireland. Lastly, this chapter details the attempts by constitutional nationalists to secure their position against more radical republican challengers.

Keywords:   abstentionism, anti-partitionism, Eamon de Valera, republican, sectarianism

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