By Brian M. Walker (auth.)
This ground-breaking political background of the 2 Irish States offers specific new insights into the 'Troubles' and the peace approach. It examines the effect of the fraught dynamics among the competing identities of the Nationalist-Catholic-Irish neighborhood at the one hand and the Unionist-Protestant-British neighborhood at the other.
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Extra info for A Political History of the Two Irelands: From Partition to Peace
101 In 1938 Sir Dawson Bates, minister of home affairs, complained: ‘So long as we live there will always be the danger of home rule or merging into the Free State. We will never get rid of it. One has only to go to England to see the extraordinary apathy by people who should be our friends. 102 This concern became very real again in 1940 when the British cabinet opened negotiations with de Valera to end partition in return for Ireland abandoning neutrality. Nothing materialised from these discussions, although they served to highlight the weakness of the unionist position.
91 Even though the earlier constitution had been drawn up by an administration warmly endorsed by the Catholic bishops, it made no reference to Catholic values or interests, unlike the later one. This change reflected the new, additional importance of religion in national identity, south and north, which had developed since 1922. Ironically, as Murray points out, it was the heirs 18 The Two Irelands of republicans who had faced severe episcopal disapproval in 1922 who were responsible for the later constitution with its distinctive Catholic features.
Throughout this period the character of identities in both polities was influenced by their political relationship with Britain which reached a new stage by 1949. The position of the south in relation to Britain was substantially settled with the 1949 declaration of a republic, while Northern Ireland’s relationship with Britain was significantly improved with the 1949 guarantee of its place within the UK. The resolution of these matters, however, did not lead to a change in the exclusive Majority identities, 1921–60 35 and confrontational nature of the identities in both states, which, if anything, became more strident.