Failed campaigns, 1948–1969
in From Partition to Brexit
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This chapter begins by outlining the Northern Ireland policies of the new five-party coalition Government, the first non-Fianna Fáil Irish Government in sixteen years. It proceeds to highlight how Dublin rejected practical policy options designed to weaken partition, such as representation of northern MPs in the Dáil or Seanad or even a right of audience. The chapter then examines the Irish Government’s response to the IRA’s border campaign.

Seán Lemass’s premiership is assessed, particularly in terms of his functional cooperation policy towards Northern Ireland leading to symbolically significant meetings with Stormont Prime Minister Terence O’Neill. It is contended that the new detente between the Dublin and Belfast Governments made Northern Ireland’s Nationalist Party increasingly vulnerable to being outflanked by an emergent civil rights movement.

Jack Lynch’s unexpected rise to the position of Taoiseach and his difficulties in fully controlling his cabinet on the formulation and implementation of Northern Ireland policy are analysed in detail. The chapter demonstrates how the emergence of the civil rights movement and the inability of Terence O’Neill to deliver fundamental reforms contributed to the end of the functional cooperation experiment.

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