actively sought political representation only to find that they had been politically disenfranchised.

Political Representation: Growth of a Catholic Middle-Class Creates the Realization of Their Under-Representation and Prompts a Challenge to the Protestant Hierarchy of Political Dominance

The separation of Ireland into its Northern and Southern regions was by no means accidental.  The North is composed of the six counties of the historic province of Ulster, which are the foundation of Protestant control.  The intended goal of the separation was to "guarantee an in-built Protestant majority, within the North, providing Catholic population-growth did not dramatically exceed that of Protestants."17  However, Protestant control resulted in abuse and the "Stormont parliamentary regime (1920 to 1972) became a textbook illustration of [John Stuart] Mill and [Alexis de] Tocqueville's prediction that democratic rule was compatible with a 'tyranny of the majority' in what critics were to dub 'the Orange state'."18

To guarantee Protestant dominance and prevent internal factionalization from developing, the Orange Order, which is part of the Protestant political party, utilized religious bigotry and fear to ensure a united Protestant vote. Protestant voting solidarity has been maintained by fomenting their "fear that the province might one day be absorbed into an Irish Republic dominated by their traditional enemies (i.e. Catholics)."19   To ensure that this would never occur, the Orange Order devised a wide array of discriminatory measures to subordinate the Catholics.

Political representation, or rather political non-participation, is one of the underlying causes that has protracted the conflict in Northern Ireland.  As will be demonstrated, Catholic under-representation in government may be seen in their minimal membership in the Stormont Parliament (1920 to 1972), their limited positions in the civil service, and their few seats on the Judiciary. Protestants have thus effectively thwarted the political aspirations of a growing Catholic populace.  This is because Catholic demands for political representation pose a challenge to the declining dominance of the Protestant electorate.

Exclusion, Limitations, and Discrimination Against Catholics Under Protestant Majoritarian Rule

From the end of the 17th century to the present day, the Protestants have maintained their control over Northern Ireland. This can best be understood in the words of Lord Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of

 

Northern Ireland, when he boasted about a "Protestant parliament for a Protestant people."  As will be seen, "this was not empty rhetoric: the Protestants had a popular majority (two to one) in the Stormont Parliament and maintained an electoral cohesion that enabled the Unionist Party to take between 62% and 76% of the seats at Stormont regularly after 1929."20   To secure Unionist leadership in the Stormont Parliament, the Orange Order directly linked itself to the Unionist political machine.

The ethos of Orangeism permeates the Party. Every Prime Minister of Northern Ireland had been an Orangeman, 95% of all elected Unionist representatives in Parliament have been Orangemen, and the Orange institution is officially represented in the major organs of the Unionist Party.21

Hence, Protestants were able to maintain their stranglehold over the political arena by keeping out Catholics. They accomplished this through political patronage and discrimination at all levels of government, which became the "officially sanctioned policy in the civil service."22 This resulted in a disproportionate and unfavorable amount of Catholic representation.

In 1927 Protestants held 94% of posts, and those Catholics who were employed were concentrated at the bottom end of the scale. In 1959, the percentage was unchanged despite the enormous growth in absolute numbers of Catholics.23

Not only did those Catholics employed by government occupy the lowest levels, but the end result of their underrepresentation was to weaken the Catholic political machine.  This was because "it was difficult to hold together a party which could never hope for a share of political power and obviously had little influence with the Government."24

Discrimination was also evident in the Judiciary, as documented by the table, Senior Judicial Posts in Northern Ireland in 1969, which divides the total number of senior judicial posts into two groups, Protestant and Catholic.

Table 1
Senior Judicial Posts in Northern Ireland in 196925

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Charles Shivers - Northern Ireland - National Identity ... [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]