Public space and the Protestant state
in Civic identity and public space
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After Belfast became the capital of a politically separate Northern Ireland, civic ritual became more explicitly Protestant and unionist, echoing to some degree the theatre state favoured by authoritarian regimes elsewhere in inter-war Europe. The Special Powers Act was used to restrict demonstrations and parades both by nationalists and by socialist and Labour movements. Attitudes became more relaxed after 1945, particularly following the collapse of a renewed IRA campaign of violence. In 1966 the government tolerated extensive celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, though at the price of dividing Protestant and unionist opinion.

Civic identity and public space

Belfast since 1780

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