Skip to main content

The Price of Containment: Deaths and Debate on Northern Ireland in the House of Commons, 1968–94

  • Chapter

Part of the Contemporary History in Context Series book series (CHIC)

Abstract

By measuring success in Northern Ireland in terms of bloodshed the British Government practically invited an escalation of violence. Violence precipitated every major reform or constitutional initiative from October 1968, following the first civil rights marches, to December 1993 and the signing of the British-Irish Joint Declaration (the Downing Street Declaration). The central role of violence in the Northern Irish political process stems from the persistence of containment as the guiding principle of conflict regulation adopted by successive British and Irish Governments since 1920.3 It appeared in 1994 that repeated failures to marginalise proponents of violence had led, finally, to a more enlightened approach to conflict regulation which addresses the causes rather than symptoms of violence. However, the current ‘peace process’ is still embryonic and therefore it is too soon to tell if the lessons of previous conflict-regulation failures have been learned. The following discussion attempts to provide a marker against which the current peace process can be compared.

Keywords

  • Political Violence
  • Security Force
  • Peace Process
  • Irish Government
  • Common Debate

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

April 22, 1969: Commons Debate on Northern Ireland — Mr Quintin Hogg MP (St Marylebone):

There are two Germanies, two Koreas, two Indias, two Vietnams, two Palestines, even, God help us, two Cypruses, and, at the moment, two Nigerias … I have enumerated these other cases of, oppression if you like, partition if you like; but can anyone point to one in which there has been so little effusion of blood as there has been in Ireland since that Treaty?1

Mr Paul Rose MP (Manchester — Blackley):

… it was not until heads were broken in Londonderry that the attention of the British press, public and parliament was focused on Northern Ireland. It was not until violence again erupted in Derry and other parts of Northern Ireland this weekend that the Unionist Chief Whip announced the possibility of universal suffrage in local government elections, a principal plank in the civil rights campaign.2

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-24606-9_7
  • Chapter length: 27 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   44.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-349-24606-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. D. G. Boyce, The Irish Question and British Politics, 1868–1986 (London: Macmillan Education, 1988), p. 65.

    Google Scholar 

  2. R. Crossman, The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Vol. III Secretary of State for Social Services, 1968–70 (London: Cape, 1977), p. 622

    Google Scholar 

  3. P. Buckland, A History of Northern Ireland (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1980), pp. 138–40.

    Google Scholar 

  4. D. Hamill, Pig in the Middle: The Army in Northern Ireland 1969–1984 (London: Methuen, 1985), pp. 51–67.

    Google Scholar 

  5. K. Kelly, The Longest War (London: Zed, 1988), p. 150.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Under the proposal, the committees would be composed of members in relation to party strength and two of four committee chairs would be chaired by Opposition members. The committees proposed were: Social Services, Environmental Services, Industrial Services and the already existing Accounts Committee. The Green Paper of October 1971 also proposed enlarging the Stormont Commons by between twenty and thirty to increase minority representation; and the possible introduction of the Single Transferable Vote to replace ‘first past the post’. Faulkner explicitly ruled out any form of power-sharing with nationalists at the Executive level. See M. J. Cunningham, British Government Policy in Northern Ireland 1969–89: Its Nature and Execution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991), pp. 44–5.

    Google Scholar 

  7. M. Farrell, Northern Ireland: The Orange State (London: Pluto, 1976), pp. 279–81.

    Google Scholar 

  8. The Provisionals’ five-point demand included: ‘an end to the British forces’ campaign of violence; the abolition of Stormont; a guarantee of noninterference in the election of a nine-county Parliament (Dáil Uladh); the immediate release of detainees; compensation for those who had suffered from British violence’, quoted in R. Deutsch and V. Magowan, Northern Ireland, 1968–74: A Chronology of Events, Vol. 3 (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1975), pp. 124–5.

    Google Scholar 

  9. P. Bishop and E. Mallie, The Provisional IRA (London: Corgi, 1988), pp. 211–17.

    Google Scholar 

  10. For an Army version of internment which emphasises the escalation of the PIRA campaign prior to internment see M. Dewar, The British Army in Northern Ireland (London: Arms and Armour, 1981), pp. 49–56.

    Google Scholar 

  11. B. White, John Hume: Statesman of the Troubles (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1984), p. 151.

    Google Scholar 

  12. See R. Fisk, The Point of No Return: The Strike which Broke the British in Ulster (London: André Deutsch, 1975)

    Google Scholar 

  13. D. Anderson, 14 May Days: The Inside Story of the Loyalist Strike of 1974 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1994).

    Google Scholar 

  14. Rees claimed in a letter to The Times in 1983 that the Government had’ seriously considered’ withdrawal but that the increase in loyalist violence and Dublin’s resistance to the idea of British withdrawal had precluded it. See P. Bew and G. Gillespie, A Chronology of the Troubles (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1993), p. 99.

    Google Scholar 

  15. The shift to control of the PIRA by the northern command is explained in L. Clarke, Broadening the Battlefield: The H-Blocks and the Rise of Sinn Féin (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1987).

    Google Scholar 

  16. Quoted in D. Barzilay, The British Army in Ulster, Vol. 4 (Belfast: Century, 1981), p. 96.

    Google Scholar 

  17. See G. Fitz Gerald, All in a Life: An Autobiography, (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1991), pp. 504–30

    Google Scholar 

  18. M. Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London: HarperCollins, 1994), pp. 393–406.

    Google Scholar 

  19. For a detailed account of the period see J. B. Bell, The Irish Troubles: A Generation of Violence 1967–1992 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1994), pp. 586–7.

    Google Scholar 

  20. The most detailed account of the hunger strikes is D. Beresford, Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Hunger Strike (London: Grafton, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  21. P. O’Malley, Biting at the Grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1990).

    Google Scholar 

  22. For details of the Libyan shipments see B. O’Brien, The Long War: The IRA and Sinn Féin (Dublin: O’Brien, 1993) pp. 133–53.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 1996 The Institute of Contemporary British History

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

O’Duffy, B. (1996). The Price of Containment: Deaths and Debate on Northern Ireland in the House of Commons, 1968–94. In: Catterall, P., McDougall, S. (eds) The Northern Ireland Question in British Politics. Contemporary History in Context Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-24606-9_7

Download citation