Northern Ireland in the Second World War

Politics, economic mobilisation and society, 1939-45

This book surveys the political, economic and social history of Northern Ireland in the Second World War. Since its creation in 1920, Northern Ireland has been a deeply divided society and the book explores these divisions, including loyalist and republican commemoration, IRA activity, policing, internment, preparations for war and the absence of consensus on the war itself. It examines rearmament in the 1930s, the relatively slow pace of wartime mobilisation, the impact of the blitz in 1941, as well as labour and industrial relations. Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK with a devolved government and no military conscription during the war. The book includes the debate on conscription, including the opposition of the Catholic Church, as well as the controversy on the formation of the Home Guard. The absence of military conscription made the process of mobilisation, and the experience of men and women, very different from that in Britain. There is also extensive coverage of wartime politics and social policy. As elsewhere in the UK, the war raised important questions about housing, crime, youth welfare, and led the broader debates on social policy following the 1942 Beveridge Report. The conclusion considers Northern Ireland in 1945 and how its government faced the domestic and international challenges of the postwar world.

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‘Ollerenshaw deals with Northern Ireland's unique political and economic situation skilfully, using a breadth of archival material, providing the reader with a sense of the impact and legacy of the war. This will unquestionably be an important work for anyone interested in the history of Northern Ireland during the middle part of the twentieth century, or to those interested in the mobilisation of societies during the Second World War.'
William Butler, University of Kent
Irish Studies Review

‘Ollerenshaw skillfully explains the interplay between the major forces of economic mobilization, politics and social policy…Northern Ireland in the Second World War is a valuable look at the place and time. It is a study which helps fill a significant research gap in British, Irish and Second World War studies.'
Mark M. Hull, US Army Command and General Staff College, Kansas
Journal of Military History

‘Philip Ollerenshaw's excellent book...a tightly organised, dryly funny and genuinely eye-opening panorama...It contributes substantially to the wider project of recalibrating study of the war to a regional scale'.
Marc Mulholland, St Catherine's College, Oxford
Irish Historical Studies

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