Christopher Norton
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The Irish Anti-Partition League
Possibilities and pitfalls, 1945–49
in The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932–70
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This chapter examines the context in which constitutional nationalists abandoned parliamentary abstentionism and took their seats at Stormont and Westminster. The impact of the return of a Labour Government at Westminster, and the establishment of a Labour backbencher ginger group (the Friends of Ireland) which raised concerns over Catholic disadvantage in Northern Ireland, is discussed. The chapter also looks at the establishment of a new nationalist political formation in 1945, the Irish Anti-Partition League (IAPL), and at early contemplation of a new reconciliation policy that would reach out to unionists. It is argued that by 1946 such ideas had been abandoned and that the IALP returned to a policy of demanding immediate national reunification. The effects on Northern anti-partitionist politics ushered in by developments in southern Ireland - the election of the Coalition Government and the passing of the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948; the establishment of an all-party anti-partition committee (the Mansion House Committee) in the Republic in 1949 - are considered. It is argued that the resulting heightening of nationalist expectations was ultimately to have profoundly negative consequences for politics in the North.

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