'Northern Ireland Fact and Falsehood: A frank look at the present and the past' by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) (1968)
[Key_Events] [KEY_ISSUES] [Conflict_Background]
POLITICS: [Menu] [Reading] [Articles] [Government] [Political_Initiatives] [Political_Solutions] [Parties] [Elections] [Polls] [Sources] [Peace_Process]
A frank look at
Published by the Ulster Unionist Party
The successive Unionist governments of Northern Ireland have, over many years, a fine record of integrity, positive achievement and success in many fields.
Unhappily this record has had much less than its due recognition. because the Ulster government has been, since its establishment, under constant attack at several levels. The campaign of attack has taken many forms, including direct violence from para-military terrorist organisations; but latterly a good many pamphlets and leaflets have been in circulation, presenting very adverse allegations in a very plausible manner.
To those who do not understand the background or know the facts, these allegations often appear credible. Presented with the sophisticated techniques of modern publicity methods, they succeed all too often in persuading ill-informed or credulous people that they are true, even where they can easily be shown to be quite contrary to the actual facts.
This booklet sets out to dissipate some of these fictions and misleading statements by telling the truth. It candidly faces a variety of charges that have been made and presents the facts which ought to be known to anybody who wants to form an opinion about Northern Ireland and its government.
1. THE ORIGINS OF NORTHERN IRELANDíS CONSTITUTION
THE FACTS. Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom for more than a century and a half, and its people have been a distinct community under the Crown for three and a half centuries. Its present status within the United Kingdom was not imposed upon it by the British Government but arose from the free choice of its inhabitants.
The partition of Ireland was not the choice or wish of the British Government but became inevitable when the Sinn Fein forces which dominated the South of Ireland decided, at the beginning of the 1920ís, to secede from the United Kingdom. The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland desired at that time to remain British.
Since then, candidates supporting Northern Irelandís position in the United Kingdom have had the votes of an impressive majority of the Ulster electorate in every general election, whether for the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster or for the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont.
2. THE PARTITION ISSUE
THE FACTS. All the aggression across the Irish frontier has been from South to North. No armed bands from the North have ever invaded southern territory or committed acts of violence there. No Northern government has claimed any right to determine how its Southern neighbours shall govern themselves. No attempt has ever been made from the North, by subversive and offensive propaganda, to undermine the position of any Dublin government.
On the other hand, over the years, the I.R.A. and other terrorist organisations based in the South have launched outrageous attacks on Northern Ireland, murdering police and other citizens, destroying both public and private property and stirring up hatred and violence. A serious campaign of this kind, with murders, bomb outrages and other violence, was running as recently as 1956.
Southern governments, too, have been hostile and interfering in relation to the North. One Southern government did, in 1925, acknowledge by solemn international agreement the constitutional status and frontiers of Northern Ireland and agreed that the two governments, north and south, should "aid one another in a spirit of neighbourly comradeship". But a subsequent Southern government repudiated the recognition that had been given to Northern Ireland, introduced a constitution for the South which laid claim to the territory of Northern Ireland, and at the same time made the Irish frontier into a high tariff barrier.
Every friendly overture has come from north of the Border. Lord Craigavon met and endeavoured to reach an understanding with Mr. De Valera and with Mr. Cosgrave. It was Ulsterís leader, Captain OíNeill, who, in 1965, took the initiative in inviting his Southern counterpart, Mr. Lemass, to meet him in Belfast to discuss practical co-operation between North and South. But it was Mr. Lemassís successor, Mr. Lynch, who gave a setback to these encouraging prospects by making controversial public references to "the evils of partition" and intervening by his words in various aspects of the domestic affairs of Northern Ireland.
3. RELIGIOUS DIVISIONS
THE FACTS. A variety of circumstances in the historical past made it a fact that over a long period relatively few non-Protestants in Ireland had actively supported the Union with Britain. But it was the determination of Lord Craigavon, Ulsterís first Prime Minister, that the new administration of Northern Ireland should be placed upon a strictly impartial and non-sectarian basis.
The first Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland was a Roman Catholic. So was the first head of the Ministry of Education, and so were many other officials appointed at that time to senior posts. One third of all places in the Royal Ulster Constabulary were to be reserved for Roman Catholics.
By and large, however, Roman Catholics stood aloof, expressing their attitude through unwillingness to accept public duties, abstention from attendance at Parliament, and, at the worst, open attachment to organisations dedicated to the overthrow of the government and constitution. They insisted rigidly upon their own separate education system, making it largely Impossible for children to do otherwise than grow up in two separate camps.
The Roman Catholic Church, too, through its official leaders, has tended to identify itself with this attitude of standing apart. While heads of Protestant churches make the customary courtesy calls upon the President of the Irish Republic, no Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland has ever made an official call upon either the Governor or the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, even though the Primatial See of Armagh is in Northern Ireland. And no Roman Catholic chaplain has ever been appointed to the Northern Ireland Parliament.
The identification of religion with politics is well indicated by the fact that the controlling body of the Nationalist Party, which seeks the incorporation of Northern Ireland in the Republic, is the Catholic Votersí Registration Committee. Constituency associations, as in the Unionist and Labour parties, do not exist among the Nationalists.
Opinions, however, have softened since the early days. Many Roman Catholics now recognise the benefits that come to Northern Ireland through remaining British, though comparatively few are willing to acknowledge this publicly. Many responsible Roman Catholics have been invited to play and are usefully playing a full part in numerous civic and public activities.
4. THE ROLE OF THE NATIONALIST PARTY
THE FACTS. To appreciate the part played by the Nationalists, it has to be borne in mind that there are few parliaments anywhere in the world where there is as much opportunity as at Stormont for the ventilation of grievances.
In the 52-member House of Commons, a member may, virtually without restriction, put a question to any Minister for oral answer on any day with the shortest possible notice. There is exceptional freedom to raise matters on the Adjournment; and there is ample Private Membersí time during which Private Membersí Bills or motions can be discussed. There are also facilities for the repeated raising of the same issue in only slightly altered terms during the same session in a way that would be quite impossible at Westminster.
Yet Nationalism has contributed almost nothing of a positive character to the life of Parliament, and the columns of Ulsterís Hansard display repeated examples of its purely negative nature, mainly in the form of indiscriminate muck-raking, often in places where muck in the end is not discovered. Certain Nationalists, and members of fringe parties of an anti-partitionist character which are allied to them In opposition, make much use of the broad-ranging political "smear".
Thus in 1966, for example, on the insistence of a Republican Labour Member, Mr. H. Diamond, who had made a speech containing the gravest allegations against the police force, a public inquiry was held at a total cost of £35,000 from public funds. Six months later, Mr. W. F. Patton, Q.C., who conducted it, had to report, with respect to virtually all the allegations, that he found "no credible evidence" for them and that some were "a complete fabrication from beginning to end".
Again, Mr. Gerry Fitt, who seeks to create an all-Ireland Republic through his membership of two British Parliaments - Stormont and Westminster - has made numerous wide-ranging and damaging allegations, such as the existence of telephone tapping in Northern Ireland. This was officially denied, and Mr. Fitt was invited to produce a single shred of evidence. No more was then heard of the matter, for there was no evidence.
Other Opposition members have made it their practice to pose as responsible parliamentarians at Stormont, but to threaten and, by implication, encourage civil disorder and civil disobedience outside.
These attitudes are not justified by inflexibility on the part of Unionist Governments, whose legislation on a wide range of issues has been as progressive as any in Europe. It is not true that all changes sought by the Opposition are stubbornly denied by the Government. There have, for example, been major changes in relation to electoral law and electoral boundaries for the Stormont parliament Great importance was attached to such changes before the Government decided to make them. Now they are dismissed as trivial.
Certain Opposition Members seek not merely to denigrate their political opponents - which is perhaps no abnormal practice in politics - but to place every aspect of life in Northern Ireland in the most unfavourable light. The normal loyalties of party to country are, for the most part, noticeably absent.
For many years, although the largest Opposition party numerically, the Nationalists refused to be considered an official Opposition. For a brief period, from 1965 to 1968, they did accept this status. But even then the Nationalist leader, Mr. Eddie McAteer, was unable to bring himself to attend any Government function at which the toast of the Queen would be honoured or to attend such occasions as the state opening of Parliament at which the Governor, as the Queenís representative, would be present.
These may be only matters of form, but the observance of conventional courtesies could have done much to help in the creation of a more normal political and parliamentary climate. And in 1968 the Nationalist Party once more resigned its official Opposition role.
5. RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION
THE FACTS. Northern Ireland is the one part of the United Kingdom which has a written constitution - the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. This Act specifically prohibits the Northern Ireland Parliament from making any laws which endow one religion or discriminate against another. Any such Act could be challenged in the courts and ruled to be inoperative. A similar prohibition applies to executive acts.
In effect, the Government is not entitled to do what Parliament is not authorised to permit it to do. If there were such illegal actions by the Government, any person has the right and the opportunity to challenge them before the Courts.
Now, in addition, there will be a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, or "Ombudsman", to investigate grievances of this or of many other kinds.
6. DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT
THE FACTS. There are two kinds of employment, public and private. With regard to public employment in Northern Ireland, many spurious statistics have been circulated. The State itself does not know the religious affiliations of those whom its employs, since this is rightly regarded as not the business of the State. It is declared Government policy that merit and qualifications should be the sole grounds for appointment and advancement. In the Civil Service, matters such as this are taken out of politics by the operation of a Civil Service Commission on British Lines.
One factor which operated more in the past than at present was the reluctance of so many Roman Catholics to seek jobs in Government service, as the result of the strong alliance of Nationalist political sympathies with Roman Catholic religious affiliations. In the beginning, one-third of all places in the Royal Ulster Constabulary were reserved for Roman Catholics, but applicants did not come forward to fill them. Similarly a low Roman Catholic entry into the Civil Service in the period before World War II has produced a rather lower proportion of Roman Catholics in the senior ranks of the public services.
In the case of local government employment, a considerable amount of control is exercised by the Ministry of Development, by prescribing necessary qualifications for posts or requiring consent to the more important appointments. This control is exercised with a view to the work that is to be done and not with any sectarian intention.
In the field of private employment, some employers do discriminate for or against particular religious groups. A factory in a strongly Protestant or a strongly Roman Catholic district is likely to draw most of its employees from one or the other section of the community. There is also the tendency, which is worldwide, for people to prefer to give jobs to their own "sort".
It seems fair in this connection to compare what has been happening in Northern Ireland to the Roman Catholic minority with what has been happening to the Protestant minority in the Irish Republic. Between 1926 and 1946 the number of Protestants in the Irish Republic fell by over a quarter; but during the same period the number of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland increased by one-eighth, an increase which has subsequently become one-sixth.
Undoubtedly the prospect of jobs is so restricted for young Protestants in the Republic, by religious discrimination, that a very high proportion of them have to emigrate. This is a situation which causes lively concern in Ulster and inevitably predisposes some Ulster employers in favour of employing Protestants if possible.
The process operates, needless to say, both ways. Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland employ their co-religionists in their school system and employ very few Protestants in sectors of the economy - such as the licensed drink trade - in which they are strongly entrenched.
One may regret these tendencies, but it would be unrealistic to imagine that they are easily separable from human nature. It is worth recalling that when efforts were made in Britain to extend the Race Relations legislation to cover religion, some of the stiffest opposition to the idea came from the Roman Catholic Church.
Nevertheless this employment trend is a minor one in Ulster and is diminishing. The great majority of long established Ulster concerns employ qualified people quite irrespective of religion. And a steadily growing sector of industry is represented by subsidiaries of companies based in Britain, America or continental Europe, whose employment policy is related solely to efficient operation.
THE FACTS. Northern Irelandís record of house-building is remarkably good. It has now reached a rate of over 12,000 homes a year, which compares extremely well with the rate in Great Britain and is far beyond the record of the Irish Republic. Output has increased by about two and a half times over the last ten years.
The activities of local authorities are supplemented by those of a public body, the Northern Ireland Housing Trust, which has great achievements to its credit. More than 100,000 houses have been built by public authorities alone since World War II, and today some two-fifths of the entire population are living in post-War housing. This proportion is about the same in Londonderry, whence some of the strongest complaints about housing have come. To give a standard of comparison, it may be noted that one family in three lives in a post-War home in Britain, a rather lower proportion.
As far as allocation of housing is concerned, although some 10,000 tenancies in publicly controlled houses begin to change hands every year, only a tiny minority have ever been the subject of controversy.
Even this minority of cases should disappear in the light of the Governmentís decision that all allocations by local authorities should in future be made on the basis of a readily understood and published scheme, such as the "Group plus Points" system. Councils are being asked to submit schemes to the Ministry of Development and are being given guidance on the formulation of such a scheme.
8. ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
THE FACTS. Since the emotive slogan "One man, one vote" has been much used, it must first be said that every adult in Northern Ireland has two votes and most of them have three. The average individual in Northern Ireland has more votes than his opposite number in Britain and has also more opportunities for exercising them.
There are three levels at which elections take place. There is first the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster to which Northern Ireland elects twelve members. They are elected on exactly the same franchise basis as prevails in all other parts of the United Kingdom, and the boundaries of the constituencies are laid down under Westminster authority and not by the Unionist Government in Northern Ireland. It is interesting to notice that it is in elections held on this basis that Unionists have had their highest proportionate electoral successes.
Then there is the Parliament of Northern Ireland. Here too the elections are based on universal adult franchise. There have, until fairly recently, been two minor exceptions to this, university voting and the business vote, representing only 12,954 of the 925,041 votes on the register. These variations have now been abolished. Elections to the Northern Ireland Parliament will in future be on the same basis as those for the United Kingdom Parliament, and they have indeed always been on a basis that was practically the same as in Britain.
In local government franchise the vote is confined to those who are occupiers of land or premises valued at not less than £10 or are the spouses of such occupiers. There is also a company vote for any company similarly occupying land or premises. This latter category of voting is now being abolished.
This system was not specially designed for Northern Ireland. It prevailed throughout the United Kingdom until the post-War era and still prevails in other countries. Basically it is a ratepayersí franchise. The rates are still the main source of income which local authorities can themselves control; and so, if the vote is confined to those who directly or indirectly pay rates, this gives a say in local government decisions to those who will be directly affected financially by such decisions.
Local government is also financed by extensive government grants and government policy on this is influenced by those who have parliamentary votes.
Those who have parliamentary votes but no local government votes are less than a third of the parliamentary voters in Northern Ireland. They are people of no one political, social or religious group. They are a cross section of the whole community, and it is to be presumed that the majority of them are Protestants, since the majority in the whole community are Protestants.
The local government franchise issue thus does not have the importance that has latterly been ascribed to is. The Unionist Governmentís attitude to it is not dogmatic. A major review of every aspect of local government - its form, functions and finance - is now under way, in order that a modernised, simplified and more efficient structure of local government may be in operation by the end of 1971. As soon as the pattern for this new structure has been determined, the franchise will be reviewed.
While there is room for more than one sincerely held opinion on it, there is nothing in this issue to justify extreme political agitation and street violence. Very deplorably it was made irrelevant use of as a pretext for this by several extremist groups.
9. CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIESTHE FACTS. This has to be considered at the three levels - Westminster, Stormont and local government.
The Northern Ireland Government plays no part in the drawing of the boundaries of the constituencies which elect Ulster members to the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster. This is done by a Boundary Commission which acts under Westminster authority.
The electorates in the Ulster constituencies for Westminster elections are extremely large (74,000 electors compared with an average of 56,000 in Great Britain). Election results therefore understate real Unionist strength in several areas. Thus, at the 1966 United Kingdom general election, when Unionist candidates won eleven out of the twelve seats, they had in eight cases majorities of over 10,000, and in four of these cases their majorities were over 20,000 These represent unusually wide margins of "wasted" votes.
On a population basis, Northern Ireland would be entitled not to twelve but to about eighteen seats at Westminster. This ought to be kept in mind when complaints are made that Northern Ireland has a voice in two parliaments. Ulster could not be left unrepresented in the parliament which imposes taxes on it, and the great bulk of Northern Ireland taxation is imposed from Westminster. But the reduced degree of Ulster representation at Westminster already takes account of its special position as having a local parliament of its own to deal with many of its own internal affairs.
Turning now to the question of the boundaries of the electoral divisions for the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, the first thing to note is the over-all effect of the elections in terms of a comparison between votes cast and members elected.
In the Northern Ireland general election of 1965 the Unionists gained 58.9 per cent. of the votes cast and secured 69.2 per cent. of the seats in the Northern Ireland House of Commons. Taking the latter figure as a percentage of the former, we find that their representation in Parliament was 19.1 per cent. in excess of their proportion of the votes cast. Then compare this with the United Kingdom general election of 1966. On that occasion the Government party - the Labour Party - got 48.1 per cent, of the votes cast and got 57.7 per cent. of the seats. Their proportion of seats was 19.9 per cent. in excess of their proportion of votes.
This shows that the result of an Ulster general election is very close to the British norm, and that, when the last two general elections for Stormont and Westminster respectively are compared, the Stormont election produced a slightly more "democratic" effect so far as the government party was concerned.
The Government of Ireland Act, 1920, laid down that there should be 52 members in the Northern Ireland House of Commons, 48 from territorial constituencies and four from the Queenís University of Belfast. Prior to 1929 the basis of election was proportional representation, but in that year the change was made to the present basis of single-member constituencies, which is the same as that in Great Britain. This alteration actually produced very little change in the balance of parties. Unionists gained one seat after the change of electoral system but soon afterwards lost this advantage.
Since 1929 there have been major movements of population which have resulted in increasing disparities in the population sizes of constituencies. The result has, again, been under-representation for Unionist voters. The fifteen seats with the largest electorates are all held by Unionists, mostly with very comfortable margins, while four of the six with the smallest electorates are held by Opposition parties.
The constituency with the smallest electorate in Northern Ireland is that now represented by Mr. Gerry Fitt. At the last general election his poll of 3,326 votes from an electorate of 7,620 may be compared with fourteen Unionist majorities of more than 3,000 in electorates averaging almost 23,000 voters each. In short, the present disparities in the sizes of constituencies tend in many cases to favour the Opposition rather than the Unionists.
The greatest disparities exist on the outskirts of Belfast, where population growth has led to excessively large electorates. As a first stage in putting this right, the problem has been examined by an Interim Boundary Commission. The Northern Ireland Government chose as the members of this Commission the same people who served on the Westminster Boundary Commission, headed by a Judge of the High Court.
In its report the Commission recommended adding four new territorial constituencies, replacing the four University seats which are to be abolished. These recommendations have been enacted as law without amendment and will come into force at the next general election. At the same time legislative provision was made for the appointment of a permanent Boundary Commission on the accepted impartial British lines, to keep parliamentary boundaries as a whole under continuing review.
Finally there is the question of the electoral boundaries for local government elections. Certain unjust conclusions are often drawn from the population of wards or other local government electoral divisions. But ward boundaries, under a United Kingdom Act of Parliament, were drawn not on a basis of population alone but according to a combination of electorate and valuation.
In much of the propaganda circulated about local government constituencies, it is assumed that the Unionist Government regularly manipulates these boundaries to its own political advantage. This is not the case. The boundaries of district electoral divisions were fixed in 1923; and since then only five boundaries have been re-drawn owing to changes in population and valuation. The whole local government system is now under review, and a new and simplified structure of local government administration is to be put into operation before the end of 1971.
10. THE HEALTH SERVICE
THE FACTS. All the facilities of the National Health Services - as indeed of the Welfare State as a whole - are available on a basis of complete equality to all citizens. Indeed there are few countries in the world in which large Roman Catholic families can fall back upon such ample welfare benefits of so many kinds.
The baseless allegation that there is sectarian discrimination in the Health Service springs largely from gross misunderstanding of the position of the Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Belfast, the only Roman Catholic teaching hospital in the United Kingdom.
The facts are these. When the Health Service was set up in 1948, other hospitals, including hospitals with a greater or less degree of Roman Catholic character and background, were willing to enter the State service. The Mater Hospital was not. Its governing body asked that an Order should be made exempting their hospital from all the provisions of the Act, and the Government agreed to do this.
Later, stressing its undeniably valuable services to the community, the hospital asked for government grants to assist it in its work. In doing this it was, in fact, asking to be given the best of both worlds, to be outside the State scheme and yet enjoy financial benefits. This would have been an arrangement which was not available to any comparable hospital in Great Britain, where "disclaimed" hospitals, or those which have remained outside the State scheme, do not receive grants, although they may receive payments for services rendered to Regional Hospital Boards under contract.
In any case, many impartial observers feel that the disadvantages that arise from the Mater Hospitalís disassociation from the State scheme are not primarily financial, for the Hospital has built up, by praiseworthy voluntary effort, substantial endowments. The real disadvantages of its position lie in its inevitable isolation from a wide range of beneficial developments in hospital service as a whole.
Accordingly, in 1967, the Government presented, and Parliament approved, a Bill to allow a hospital which had decided to stay out of the scheme in 1948 to change its mind and enter the State service. The Bill also safeguarded the special religious character and associations which any hospital in that service might have. Following the passage of this Bill into law, discussions began between the Hospital authorities and the Government, with every prospect of reaching an outcome acceptable to both sides.
THE FACTS. Many people regret the existence, side by side with the State education system, of a network of Church schools. They feel that this duplication is wasteful of financial and human resources, and that the segregation which is its Inevitable result makes it more difficult to unite the two traditions in the community. Nevertheless, Unionist Governments have at all times respected any views on this subject which are genuinely held as a matter of conscience.
They have given generous financial support to voluntary schools, both for running costs and to meet capital expenditure. There are few countries anywhere in the world in which Roman Catholic education is so generously supported out of public funds. Certainly, at various times and in various ways, assistance to voluntary schools outside the State scheme has been more generous in Northern Ireland than aid to comparable schools in Great Britain.
In at least one important respect, this is still the case. In England no wholly voluntary school - one without any public representative on its governing body - receives any assistance. In Northern Ireland, however, under an Act passed in 1968, voluntary schools then existing could opt either to become "maintained" schools, with a minority of public representation, receiving 80 per cent. Government grants towards capital expenditure and 100 per cent, of all running and maintenance costs, or to remain wholly voluntary and enjoy the previous grant rate of 65 per cent.
A further entirely groundless allegation may be dealt with here. It has been suggested that the Ulster Government, in deciding the location of Northern Irelandís second university, gave some kind of clandestine instruction to the expert committee which was set up to go into this matter - to the effect that the new university was not to be located at Londonderry because the majority of the population there is Roman Catholic.
This suggestion was categorically denied by the late Sir John Lockwood, chairman of the Committee and an English academic of unimpeachable integrity. The Committee, without instruction or guidance of any kind, recommended Coleraine as the right location, and the Government had no part in this decision other than to accept it.
12. LOCATION OF INDUSTRY
THE FACTS. Critics on this point often display a very simple-minded idea of how decisions about the locating of industries are reached. The Government does not and cannot direct potential new industries, from Britain, America or continental Europe, as to where they are to go in the province. The Government can only try to guide them. Ulsterís industrial development campaign faces many competitors, both in Great Britain and elsewhere. If Northern Ireland cannot supply what industrialists want, they can and will go elsewhere.
Belfast is, understandably, a magnet to new industries, because the Belfast region contains so large a part of Northern Irelandís total population. But it is Government policy to de-magnetise Belfast, so far as this is possible, and spread industrial activity and consequent prosperity more out into the country, using a series of growth points. Part of this policy involves encouraging industrial developments which would otherwise take place in Belfast to get established in the wider region which is still within reach of Belfast, at such growth points as Antrim - Ballymena or the new city of Craigavon. But an equally vital part is to develop other growth points in outer areas, such as Londonderry, Omagh, Coleraine, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Newry.
This policy or strategy rests upon the reports of two independent and nationally respected experts, the planner Sir Robert Matthew and the economist Professor Thomas Wilson.
Special financial incentives are offered to new industries in the outer areas. Many advance factories are built as an inducement, Londonderry is the accepted number one priority of the entire industrial development campaign. Current achievements at Londonderry are nine new factories since 1966, 2,300 existing jobs in Government-sponsored industries, and over 2,000 more jobs in the pipe-line. The city has the largest Industrial Training Centre outside Belfast, and in the Maydown complex it has one of the most impressive post-war industrial developments in Europe, including a multi-million dollar series of chemical plants for the Du Pont Corporation, a vast modem power station and other industries.
It is only fair, in trying to assess what the Ulster Government has achieved in the industrialisation of the western counties, to compare this with what is achieved in the western counties of the Irish Republic. Any objective comparison will show that it is in the North that efforts to retain population and create prosperity have been much more successful.
13. NORTHERN IRELANDíS CONTRIBUTION TO THE UNITED KINGDOM It is sometimes alleged that Northern Ireland is only a drain on the resources of the United Kingdom and makes no contribution to its life.
THE FACTS. The people of Northern Ireland have amply shown their willingness to accept the responsibilities as well as claim the advantages of their British citizenship, alike in war and peace, in hard times and in prosperity.
No one dared to tell the thousands of bereaved Ulster families after the Battle of the Somme in 1916 that they were a liability to the nation. That, too, was the very year in which hard pressed British troops had to be diverted to deal with the Dublin Rebellion.
And in World War II, when Southern Irelandís neutrality deprived Britain of vital ports and bases, Ulsterís loyalty was, as Churchill declared, essential in the Battle of the Atlantic. No one then told Ulstermen, like Alexander, Alanbrooke, Auchinleck, Montgomery, Dill, Templar and many more, that their services were of no value to Britain.
The economic contribution of Ulsterís agriculture and industry in both wars was also immense.
But in peacetime, too, the Ulster contribution to the life of the whole United Kingdom is lively and substantial. Financially Northern Ireland gains much from being part of the United Kingdom, but the cost of the Northern Ireland Government and of the public services it carries on is more than met by the provinceís own taxation revenue, and Ulster makes its contribution in many other ways. A province with an annual trade turnover of £1,000,000,000 is no small asset to the economic life of the whole United Kingdom.
The interchange of individual talent, methods and ideas which is going on all the time makes Ulster well worth while to Great Britain. Field marshals or novelists, industrialists or artists, scientists or administrators, to say nothing of a vast range of industrial products and the products of the land - when Britain names it, Ulster seems to have it.
14. A NEW AND WIDER
It is clear from the foregoing that the Northern Ireland Government has exerted itself to deal justly and impartially with a wide range of issues and, in particular, to be strictly fair with regard to those issues which might seem to touch its own interests in a party-political sense.
Above all, it has made every effort, as its founding father, Sir Edward Carson, advised in 1921, to deal not only fairly but generously with the Roman Catholic minority in the province.
Many of the untrue allegations which have been discussed and refuted have arisen through acceptance of a wholly wrong assumption - that every member of the Roman Catholic Church is necessarily a supporter of one of the Nationalist or Republican parties opposed to the Union. While it is difficult to get at the facts, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is far from being the case.
More and more Roman Catholics are choosing to support one of the parties which are pledged to maintain the link with Great Britain. This is very understandable in view of the great social and economic advantages which come from our British citizenship and which benefit all our people equally.
The spreading of untrue information and the creation of groundless grievances does great harm to everybody in Ulster, of whatever creed, class or political affiliation. If we are to create a better future out of the opportunities which are at hand, we must look with complete fairness and honesty at the present and the past.
At present many purely social problems have still to be solved by people working in neighbourly co-operation, and the whole social climate in Northern Ireland is encouraging this. A new feeling of communal solidarity is slowly and sometimes painfully emerging. A new and wider outlook is being shared by more and more people, largely as the result of the initiative of our present Prime Minister, Captain Terence OíNeill.
At the same time the Government is making every effort to bring about the modernising of both the physical and the economic conditions of life in Ulster. In this bringing up-to-date we need to enlist the energies of all our citizens, regardless of creed or of any other factor that might have been divisive in the past. The success of these efforts will benefit, without discrimination, every person and make a better future for every Ulster child.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
Last modified :