Ulster and the British Problem



Ulster Unionism is commonly portrayed as irrational, backward and deviant. While Unionists have resisted any accommodation with Irish nationalism, the argument runs, their conditional loyalty to the Crown has obstructed the emergence of a genuine sense of Britishness. The Union is usually interpreted as a tactical alliance designed to maintain colonial privileges rather than a bona fide expression of emotional commitment to British culture and values. At the same time, loyalists have failed to invent their own distinctive Ulster nationality; consequently they are unable to articulate their political demands in the respectable language of self-determination. Instead Ulster Protestants seem trapped within religious and political attitudes derived from the seventeenth century: one historian has written that the sense of community shared by Ulster Protestants is best seen as ‘an arrested development towards modern nationalism’.


National Identity Catholic Social Teaching British State British History Home Rule 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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