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Northern Ireland and the British Empire–Commonwealth, 1923–61

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

Philip Ollerenshaw*
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of the West of England, Bristol

Extract

Despite the unprecedented interest shown by historians in Ireland and empire in recent years, comparatively little research has focused on Northern Ireland’s connections to the British Empire-Commonwealth in the post-partition decades. This article utilises some new sources to throw light on both the centrifugal and centripetal aspects of the imperial relationship. The discussion begins with the imperial significance of visits to Northern Ireland by statesmen such as William Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand, to his native Ulster in 1923, and that of Gordon Coates, also Prime Minister of New Zealand, three years later. At the end of the period, the visit of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can add to our knowledge about the changing relationship between Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Type
Ireland and the British Empire-Commonwealth
Copyright
Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2008

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References

1 Previous versions of this paper were given at the University of Leeds, the Queen’s University of Belfast, the University of Ulster at Coleraine, and the University of Toronto. I am very grateful for the comments of members of the audience on those occasions. My thanks also go to Kent Fedorowich, Georgina Sinclair and an anonymous referee for their constructive criticism.

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40 The best discussion of this is McMahon, Deirdre’s Republicans and imperialists: Anglo-Irish relations in the 1930s (New Haven & London, 1984), esp. pp 74-9Google Scholar; see also Canning, Paul, British policy towards Ireland, 1921–1941 (Oxford, 1985), pp 137, 139, 150.Google Scholar

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42 Belfast Telegraph, 29 Aug. 1932.

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45 The background is discussed in Ollerenshaw, Philip, ‘War, industrial mobilisation and society in Northern Ireland, 1939–1945’ in Contemporary European History, 16 (2007), pp 169-97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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51 Notice of a debate at the Cambridge Union, 17 May 1938 (ibid.).

52 J. Milne Barbour to Craigavon, 27 Oct. 1938 (P.R.O.N.I., CAB/9F/123/2); Sir Roland Nugent, confidential memorandum on publicity, 7 Oct. 1938 (ibid.).

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54 Eisenhower also received an honorary LL.D. from Queen’s University; see the government press release, 24 Aug. 1945 (P.R.O.N.I., CAB/9 A/7/52).

55 Reply by Field Marshal Montgomery on being made an honorary burgess of the city of Belfast, 14 Sept. 1945 (P.R.ON.I., CAB/9 A/7/55).

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60 Ibid., 13 Nov. 1945.

61 Ibid., 3 Oct. 1945.

62 ‘Government publicity: a short résumé since 1922’, 1944 (P.R.O.N.I., PM/5/31/4).

63 Sir William Crawford to Sir Basil Brooke, 28 June 1946 (ibid.).

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65 An example was Brooke’s speech to the National Press Club in Washington: The Times 12 Apr. 1950. For a valuable recent article on this theme, see Walker, Graham, ‘Northern Ireland, British-Irish relations and American concerns, 1942–1956’ in Twentieth-century British History, 18 (2007), pp 194218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

66 Diary of Sir Basil Brooke, 24 Jan. 1950 (P.R.O.N.I., D/3004/D/41).Google Scholar

67 Ibid., 14 Mar. 1950. Brooke was met by ‘boos, catcalls and chants’ from some 200 demonstrators at New York’s Idlewild airport. One managed to get through the police cordon during Brooke’s speech, shouting ‘Up the I.R.A. for the thirty-two’, The Times, 8 Apr. 1950.

68 The story was denied by Brooke. What had actually happened was that William Lowry, M.P. for Derry City and minister of home affairs, had responded to a nationalist M.P. who had remarked that an Orange Hall near Portrush had been used by U.S. military service personnel to celebrate Mass by saying that ‘preparations are being made for its fumigation’. The U.S. forces sought and received an apology from Lowry. See Lowry to Most Revd. Dr Farren, Roman Catholic bishop of Derry and vicar delegate to the U.S. forces, Nov. 1943 (P.R.O.N.I., CAB/9B/205/1). Brooke was questioned about this story in the U.S., Canada and also on his return to Liverpool.

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71 T. T. Shields to Sir Basil Brooke, 18 May 1950 (ibid.).

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73 Bessie Ross to Sir Basil Brooke, 19 May 1950 (ibid.).

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