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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 war years, 1940–45

The war years, 1940–45

(p.49) 3 The war years, 1940–45
The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970

Christopher Norton

Manchester University Press

This chapter considers relations between the nationalist and unionist communities during the War. It is argued that the common suffering experienced by both communities following the Luftwaffe’s bombing raid on Belfast in early 1941, and mounting unionist discontent with prime minister John Andrews’ ineffectual leadership, provided the context in which opportunities for political developments arose. It is revealed, however, that Andrews’ call for the introduction of conscription in Northern Ireland, and the emphatic Nationalist rejection of this, served to reaffirm traditional enmities. The resulting political stasis is shown to have been compounded by the arrest and internment of the most senior Nationalist political figure Cahir Healy (in 1941) on suspicion of contacting Axis representatives in Dublin. The chapter further examines the mixed fortunes of orthodox constitutional nationalist politics in a period when changes wrought by the War shifted the political complexion of nationalist representation towards the left and when the combined pressures of intra-nationalist competition; criticism from Dublin; and the Church’s apprehensions over the Beveridge Plan, led to a moratorium on abstentionism. On the conclusion of the War the future of constitutional nationalism is shown to be uncertain but not without possibility.

Keywords:   Axis, Beveridge, bombing, Cahir Healy, conscription, left, welfare

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