Northern Irish nationalists were the outright losers in the Anglo-Irish settlement of 1920–21. Southern Irish nationalists attained an independent state, albeit truncated and lacking the full sovereignty of the coveted ‘republic’ for which many had fought. Discrimination in employment and the allocation of public housing was seen to have a useful side-effect in encouraging Catholic emigration from Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland was a divided but largely stable society in the decades immediately after partition. The ameliorative impact of the welfare state made post-war northern Catholics more willing British citizens. There are a number of factors which have to be considered in accounting for the climate of re-appraisal within the nationalist community in Northern Ireland from the late 1950s. It is in nationalist attitudes that the politics of John Hume must be examined.
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