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Abstract of Important Events - Prorogation of Stormont, 28 March 1972

[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]

Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
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This is one of a number of files which provide a very brief abstract of important events during the Northern Ireland conflict. Some of the events are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere (check, for example, Key Events and the corresponding entry in the chronology.

The prorogation of the parliament at Stormont, 28 March 1972

Brian Faunkner, the then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, was summoned to London on 24 March 1972. Edward Heath, the then British Prime Minister, informed Faulkner that security policy would be transferred to Westminster. This was unacceptable to the Unionist controlled Northern Ireland Government and it prompted the British Government to suspend the Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont and assume "full and direct responsibility" (Edward Heath, the then British Prime Minister, 24 March 1972). The Northern Ireland parliament met for the last time on 28 March 1972 and Brian Faunkner and his cabinet resigned thus ending 50 years of Unionist rule of Northern Ireland. "We feel we, in our endeavour to provide just Government in Ulster, have been betrayed from London" (Brian Faunkner, 28 March 1972).

Undoubtedly the Irish Republican Army (IRA) saw the introduction of 'Direct Rule' as a victory for nationalists and something which, from their point of view, highlighted the real cause of the conflict, that is, British control of a partitioned island. In line with their assessment of the new situation the IRA continued its campaign which reached new heights on 14 April 1972 when 30 bombs exploded in Belfast. In the 'zero sum' game of Northern Ireland politics the prorogation of the Stormont Government represented the greatest blow to the Protestant psyche in 50 years. It undoubtedly had an alienating effect on many Protestants.

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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