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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 Irish Anti-Partition League

The Irish Anti-Partition League

possibilities and pitfalls, 1945–49

(p.75) 4 The Irish Anti-Partition League
The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970

Christopher Norton

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the context in which constitutional nationalists abandoned parliamentary abstentionism and took their seats at Stormont and Westminster. The impact of the return of a Labour Government at Westminster, and the establishment of a Labour backbencher ginger group (the Friends of Ireland) which raised concerns over Catholic disadvantage in Northern Ireland, is discussed. The chapter also looks at the establishment of a new nationalist political formation in 1945, the Irish Anti-Partition League (IAPL), and at early contemplation of a new reconciliation policy that would reach out to unionists. It is argued that by 1946 such ideas had been abandoned and that the IALP returned to a policy of demanding immediate national reunification. The effects on Northern anti-partitionist politics ushered in by developments in southern Ireland - the election of the Coalition Government and the passing of the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948; the establishment of an all-party anti-partition committee (the Mansion House Committee) in the Republic in 1949 - are considered. It is argued that the resulting heightening of nationalist expectations was ultimately to have profoundly negative consequences for politics in the North.

Keywords:   abstentionism, Coalition government, Friends of Ireland, Irish Anti-Partition League, Labour Government, Mansion House Committee, reconciliation, Republic of Ireland

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