Human Rights in the Republic of Ireland

  • L. J. Macfarlane


The 1984 New Ireland Forum Report, drawn up by the three main nationalist parties in the Republic of Ireland plus the leading nationalist party in the North, lays responsibility for the discrimination, repression and violence suffered by successive generations in Northern Ireland on the arbitrary division of Ireland by the British parliament in 1920.2 While this assessment is in a narrow sense historically valid, it fails to face up to the nature of the problems which the Sinn Fein government in Dublin would have encountered if its fervently desired outcome of a British handover of the whole of Ireland had been acceded to. Politically, of course, no such outcome was possible given Conservative Party domination of government and parliament in Britain, and their identification with the Protestant majority in the North. Irish politicians may reasonably choose to present an analysis of the current problem of Ireland derived from a nationalist conception of what the British government ought to have done in 1920 which ignores the realities of British party politics at that time; but they are required by that presentation to come to grips with the to-be-expected dread consequences of any British government attempt to put nearly a million Protestant Ulsterman under a Catholic Sinn Fein government in Dublin.


European Convention British Government Irish Government Catholic Church Mixed Marriage 
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  1. 3.
    See F. S. L. Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971) pp. 460–2.Google Scholar
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    See Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA (London: Fontana, 1984) pp. 72–104.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© L. J. Macfarlane 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. J. Macfarlane
    • 1
  1. 1.St John’s CollegeOxfordUK

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