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Ulster Since 1600Politics, Economy, and Society$
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Liam Kennedy and Philip Ollerenshaw

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583119

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583119.001.0001

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Politics and Society, 1800–1960

Politics and Society, 1800–1960

(p.228) 14 Politics and Society, 1800–1960
Ulster Since 1600

James Loughlin

Oxford University Press

The primary political division in Ulster is that between unionist and nationalist. Politically and constitutionally, the Act of Union was the great legislative landmark in Ireland between 1800 and 1920. In the decades after the Union there are instances of interdenominational co-operation but also of increasing political polarisation. Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the growth of nationalism, the resurgence of the Orange Order, the widely-held Protestant belief that the Union underpinned economic progress all contributed to this. This polarisation became especially obvious after Gladstone's conversion to Home Rule in 1885. The militarisation of the unionist-nationalist conflict between 1912 and 1914, and the concentration of unionists in the north-east, pointed towards partition, as did the Sinn Fein victory in the 1918 General Election. An accumulation of unaddressed nationalist grievances found effective expression in the civil rights campaign of the 1960s and gave rise to unprecedented challenges to the government of Northern Ireland.

Keywords:   act of union, nationalism, unionism, Orange Order, Sinn Fein, Catholic Emancipation, civil rights, Gladstone, liberalism, polarisation

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