The Full Wiki

More info on Unionism in Ireland

Unionism in Ireland: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the maintenance or strengthening of the political and cultural ties between Irelandmarker (often, since the independence of southern Ireland, specifically Northern Irelandmarker) and Great Britainmarker.

The political relationship between Britain and Ireland dates to the twelfth century, and reached its height in the Act of Union 1800, which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker. In 1922, the southernmost 26 counties of Ireland gained independence from the UK as the Irish Free State (later a republic under the name "Irelandmarker"). The remaining 6 counties then constituted the territory of Northern Irelandmarker has remained part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Unionism and Ulster Unionism, as it is known today, is overwhelmingly concerned with the relationship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain with Unionism today being for all intents and purposes non evident within the rest of Ireland.

Unionism and its opposing ideology, Irish nationalism, are associated with particular ethnic and religious communities: the former with Protestants of English or Scottish origin (many of whom migrated to Ireland in the Plantation of Ulster), and the latter with Catholics indigenous to the island. However, these generalisations must be nuanced, since a significant number of individuals do not fit neatly into such sets of categories (there exist both Protestant nationalists and Catholic unionists), and the distinction between a "pure" native Catholic Irish population and "pure" Protestant British colonists is not consistent with the centuries-old history of cross-community intermarriage, cultural assimilation and religious conversion.

The Calvert family and Jacobite Peerage were the last of the old English Catholic aristocracy in Ireland, although with some newer Scottish influences, from the Stuart succession. This was the previous convention, before ties with England absolutely meant Protestantism. It was with the Scottish factor, that the situation changed definitively for the Protestant connection, between Scottish and English people in Ireland, that usually defined them as different from the Irish. By this time, English Catholics were reckoned to be "native Irish" and many of them were just as opposed to Protestant rule as the "Gaelic Irish".

The term Unionist originally described proponents of Ireland remaining in the United Kingdommarker, which was at odds with Irish nationalism.

Unionism and British identity

Irish Unionism is centred on an identification with Britishmarker, though not necessarily to the exclusion of a sense of Irishness or of affinity to Northern Ireland ("Ulster") specifically. It emerged as a unified force in opposition to William Gladstone's Home Rule Bill in 1886. Whereas Irish nationalists believed in the need for separation from Great Britain - whether through repeal of the 1800 Act of Union, "home rule", or complete independence - Unionists believe fundamentally in the need to maintain and deepen the relationship between the various nations of the United Kingdom, expressing a pride in symbols of Britishness.

A key symbol for unionists is the Union Flag. Unionist areas of Northern Ireland often display this and other symbols to show the loyalty and sense of identity of the community. Unionism is also known for its allegiance to the British Crown, both historically and today.


Historically, most Unionists in Ireland have been Protestants and most Nationalists have been Catholics, and this remains the case. However, a significant number of Protestants have adhered to the Nationalist cause, and a significant number of Catholics have espoused Unionism. The phenomenon of Catholic Unionism continues to exist in Northern Ireland, where it may be seen in the context of middle-class Catholics' misgivings regarding the economic consequences of a united Ireland.

It is fair to say that both Unionism and Nationalism have had sectarian and anti-sectarian elements, and that both have attracted supporters from outside their base religious communities. However, while Nationalism has historically had a number of Protestant leaders (Henry Grattan, Theobald Wolfe Tone, Charles Stewart Parnell, Douglas Hyde), Unionism was invariably led by Protestant leaders and politicians. This lack of Catholic leadership encouraged accusations of sectarianism, particularly during the period when the Ulster Unionist Party had undisputed control of Northern Irelandmarker (1921–1972). Only one Catholic served in government throughout this period (Dr. G.B. Newe, who was specially recruited to boost cross-community relations in the last UUP government in the 1970s). Ulster Unionist Leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble conceded that Northern Ireland had been a "cold house" for Catholics in the past.

The Unionist vision is for Northern Irelandmarker to continue with Englandmarker, Scotlandmarker and Walesmarker as part of the United Kingdommarker


Unionists and Loyalists

Alongside the term Unionist, people espousing unionist beliefs are sometimes referred to as Loyalists. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but the latter is more often associated with particularly hardline forms of Unionism, and in some cases with individual or groups who support or engage in violence. Most unionists do not describe themselves as loyalists.

Nationalists and Republicans

A similar distinction exists in relation to Irish nationalists on the opposing side. Mainstream nationalists, such as the supporters of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the main parties in the Republic of Ireland, are generally referred to by that term, while the more militant strand of nationalism, comprising groups such as Sinn Féin, is known as republicanism. In the Republic of Ireland, the republican tradition has moderated and moved into the mainstream, and today the (self regarded) republican party, Fianna Fáil, has little in common with militant republicans other than certain ideological and historical perspectives.

Republican Unionists?

Unionism has traditionally been associated with strong loyalty to the British monarchy, and three members of the current Royal Family hold titles with roots in Northern Ireland: the Duke of York (Baron Killyleagh), the Earl of Ulster and the Duke of Kent (Baron Downpatrick). Older Irish royal titles included Lord of Ireland, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Earl of Athlone and Baron Arklow. The Queen is still technically Sovereign of the Order of St. Patrick, the highest Irish order of chivalry, and the Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is an officer in the College of Armsmarker in Londonmarker.

Some unionists, however, are republicans, in the sense that they oppose the monarchy and wish to replace it with a British Republic. This form of "republicanism" is naturally wholly unconnected with Irish republicanism. There is no accurate statistical information available for how much actual support exists for this position, though there is anecdotal evidence that the attitude among unionists who do not support the monarchy is mainly one of indifference rather than a positive desire to abolish it.


Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries unionism had supporters throughout Ireland. As late as 1859 the Unionist Irish Conservative Party was predominant, winning more seats than either the Irish Liberal Party or the various Nationalist parties.

Home Rule

The political union is symbolised by the Westminster Parliament
"Home Rule" was the name given to the policy of establishing a devolved parliament to govern Ireland as an autonomous region within the United Kingdom. Home Rule was supported from the 1860s onwards by mainstream nationalist leaders such as Isaac Butt, William Shaw, Charles Stewart Parnell, John Redmond and John Dillon, and it became the aim of the Nationalist Party, subsequently known as the Home Rule League and the Irish Parliamentary Party, which was the largest political party in Ireland from the 1880s until the end of the First World War.

Unionists comprised the opposition to Home Rule. They believed that an Irish Parliament dominated by Catholic nationalists would be to their economic, social and religious disadvantage, and would move eventually towards total independence from Britain. In most of Ireland, Unionists were members of the governing and landowning classes and the minor gentry, but Unionism had a broad popular appeal among Protestants of all classes and backgrounds in Ulster. This part of the island had become industrialised, and had an economy that closely resembled that of Britain.

A series of British governments introduced Home Rule Bills in the British Parlilament. The 1886 Bill was rejected by the House of Commonsmarker, and managed to destroy the Liberal government in the process: Whig and Radical elements left the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Unionist Party, which allied itself with the Conservative Party. Eventually, the two parties merged into the Conservative and Unionist Party (generally known as the Conservative Party), which remains Britain's dominant right-of-centre party. The 1893 Bill passed the Commons but was rejected by the House of Lordsmarker, which had a permanent and large Conservative majority.

Political Unionism crystallised around the Protestant areas of Ulster in the northern part of Ireland. By the early 20th century, the Irish Unionist Party had become predominantly associated with this territory, and in 1905 the Ulster Unionist Council was founded, which in turn produced the Ulster Unionist Party, which replaced the IUP in Ulster. In the period up to 1920, most of the IUP's leadership (including the Earl of Middleton and the Earl of Dunraven) came from other parts of Ireland, and its most prominent leader, Sir Edward Carson, opposed not merely Home Rule but any attempt to partition Ireland.

In 1911, the House of Lords' veto over legislation was removed, and it became clear that a Home Rule Bill would finally be enacted. Unionists, particularly in Ulster, mounted a campaign against Home Rule, drawing up a "Solemn League and Covenant" and threatening to establish a Provisional Government of Ulster if Home Rule were imposed upon them. They set up a militia called the Ulster Volunteers and imported 25,000 rifles from Germanymarker. By mid-1914, 90,000 men had joined the Volunteers.

On the eve of the First World War, the Home Rule Act 1914 passed into law. The War, however, prevented it from coming into force. The Easter Rising of 1916 and the events that followed it led to the enactment of a fourth Home Rule Bill after the War, known as the Government of Ireland Act 1920. This was heavily influenced by the Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson, and provided six of the nine counties of Ulster ("Northern Irelandmarker") with its own devolved parliament independent from that of the rest of the island ("Southern Ireland"). The 1914 Act had provided for a similar partition as a temporary measure, for an unspecified length of time. In the end, only Northern Ireland became a functioning entity, and Southern Ireland was superseded by the Irish Free State.

Unionists opposed Home Rule for several reasons:
  • Landowners in southern and western Ireland feared that a nationalist assembly would introduce property and taxation laws contrary to their interests.
  • Some feared that Home Rule would become "Rome Rule" under an oppressive and socially dominant Roman Catholic Church. They feared that they would experience discrimination, including legal disabilities analogous to those imposed on Catholics and dissenting Protestants under the old Penal Laws.
  • Some identified strongly with the Crown and British rule and wished to see both continue unchanged in Ireland.
  • Some, particularly in Ulster, viewed the rest of the island as economically backward, and feared that a parliament in Dublin would impose economic tariffs against industry.

Not all Protestants supported Unionism. Some - notably Charles Stewart Parnell - were nationalists, while by contrast some middle-class Catholics supported the maintenance of the union. In addition, Unionism received the support in the period from the 1880s until 1914 from leading mainland Conservative politicians, notably Lord Randolph Churchill and future prime minister Andrew Bonar Law. Churchill coined the well-known slogan "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right".

Northern Ireland

St. Patrick's Cross represents Ireland in the Union Flag

The creation of Northern Irelandmarker under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the later creation of the Irish Free State in the remainder of the island separated southern and northern unionists. The exclusion of three Ulster counties, Donegalmarker, Monaghanmarker and Cavanmarker, from Northern Ireland left unionists there feeling isolated and betrayed. They established an association to persuade their fellow unionists to reconsider the border, but to no avail. Many assisted in the policing of the new region, serving in the B-Specials while continuing to live in the Free State (see here).

Unionists were in the majority in four counties of the new Northern Ireland (Antrim, Londonderry, Down and Armagh), and formed a large minority in the remaining counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone. Sir Edward Carson had expressly urged the new Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Sir James Craig, to ensure absolute equality in the treatment of Catholics, so to guarantee the stability of the new state. Discrimination, however, took place, particularly in the areas of housing, employment and local government representation. The extent of such discrimination is disputed, and there was also widespread poverty among Protestants: for example, recovery operations in working-class areas after the Belfast Blitz of 1941 revealed that both communities had disadvantaged elements. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has admitted that Northern Ireland was a "cold house" for Catholics for most of the 20th century. Many unionists, particularly in the Democratic Unionist Party, deny that organised discrimination took place and attribute the poverty suffered by both communities to wider economic conditions.

The Troubles

By the 1960s, the reforms of Prime Minister, Terence O'Neill, designed to create a more equitable society between unionists and nationalists, resulted in a backlash led by fundamentalist Protestant minister, Ian Paisley. Nationalists launched a Civil Rights movement in the mid 1960s with key demands made on matters such as one man one vote. With attacks on Northern Ireland's infrastructure by loyalists, and the resignation of a relative from the Cabinet over the principle of One man One Vote, O'Neill resigned on 2 April 1969 to be replaced by Chichester Clark.

In August 1969 following the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry parade in the city, serious rioting took place in Derrymarker and Belfastmarker. The Civil Rights movement responded by calling marches across Northern Ireland to further stretch police resources and on August 14 the British Government allowed the deployment of the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment in Derry to relieve the Police. The following day the deployment was extended to Belfast. Early the next year Chichester Clark flew to London to request more military support in an attempt to stem the increasing violence. Receiving much less than he had requested, he resigned and was replaced by Brian Faulkner

By 1972 the situation in Northern Ireland had deteriorated considerably, and on January 30, thirteen civilians on a Civil Rights march in Derry were killed by the Parachute Regiment Bloody Sunday. Three months later the Parliament of Northern Ireland and government were suspended, and later abolished. Within Unionism, Ian Paisley had entered electoral politics and quickly merged his Protestant Unionist Party into the new Democratic Unionist Party with former UUP MPs Desmond Boal and John McQuade. The new party quickly began to win support from the UUP, and since 1975 polled at least 10% of the vote at elections.

A power-sharing government between nationalists and unionists in 1974 was brought down by the Ulster Workers' Council Strike. Faulkner as a result lost the support of his party, where he was replaced as leader by Harry West, and formed his own Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. West subsequently resigned and was replaced by Jim Molyneaux in 1979. Secretary of State Jim Prior made another attempt at restoring devolution by introducing a plan for rolling devolution through an assembly between 1982 and 1986 but this was boycotted by nationalists. Violence intensified throughout this period.

After nearly three decades of conflict, a ceasefire and intense political negotiations produced the Belfast Agreement on 10 April, 1998 (also known as the "Good Friday Agreement"), which again attempted with mixed success to produce a power-sharing government for Northern Ireland with cross-community support. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) supported the agreement but it was opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and other smaller parties.

Unionism in Northern Ireland today

Unionist - and nationalist - convictions in Northern Ireland are expressed in a number of different ways: through everyday preferences (which need not be consistent for each individual) such as choice of newspaper or sports team, participation in a locally developed unionist or nationalist subculture, and voting for the appropriate political parties and candidates at election time.

Unionism and religion

Most Unionists in Northern Ireland are Protestants and most Nationalists are Catholics, but this generalisation (which is evident in the work of some commentators) is subject to significant qualifications. The Ulster Unionist Party, for example, has some Catholic members and supporters, such as Sir John Gorman, a respected former MLA. Polls taken over the years have suggested that as many as one in three Catholics could be considered Unionist, though this may not translate into support for Unionist parties at election time and the size of the foregoing figure has been questioned.

In a more general sense, Catholics cannot be assumed to be hostile to the institutions of the Union: many Catholics serve in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the British Army, just as their predecessors served in the RIC and the RUC, in the face of sometimes violent opposition from militant nationalists. The PSNI maintains a 50% quota for Catholic officers.

On the Nationalist side, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has attracted a number of sympathetic Protestants, and Sinn Féin too is said to have some Protestant members and elected officials.

Northern Ireland has an increasing number of inhabitants who are neither Catholic nor Protestant, either being adherents of other religions or being non-religious. Increasingly, the trend has been to ignore the question of religion, particularly as the numbers of practising churchgoers on both sides have been in decline.

Current Public Support for Unionism in Northern Ireland
Indicator Survey Date Overall % Protestant % Catholic % No religion %
Support for the union as long-term policy 2006 54 85 22 46
Unionist personal identity 2006 36 69 3 17
British personal identity 2006 39 63 11 35
Support for unionist political party 2006 32 63 2 20

For some years, there has been a perception both in Britain and in Ireland that the Catholic birthrate will guarantee a Catholic - and hence supposedly Nationalist - majority in Northern Ireland at some point in the first half of the twenty-first century. However, a strong decline in the Catholic birthrate may slow down or even reverse the growth in the Catholic population (which may in turn be balanced by an increased rate of emigration of young Protestants, often to study and work in Britain). Recent influxes of immigrants, especially from Eastern Europe, are also having a significant effect on the demographic balance, although how many choose to reside permanently in Northern Ireland or take an interest in the political scene remains to be seen.

The rapid pace of economic growth in the Republic of Ireland in recent years is felt by many to have weakened the economic case for Unionism, though many Unionists insist that the level of growth in the Republic has been exaggerated and there are still clear economic benefits from being part of the UK, as the world's fifth largest economy. Considered by itself, Northern Ireland is a less wealthy territory than the Republic, and, ironically, one potential obstacle to a united Ireland is the suggested reluctance on the part of taxpayers in the Republic to shoulder the financial burden that unification would entail.

Political Unionism

Northern Ireland currently has a number of pro-union political parties, the largest of which is the traditionalist Democratic Unionist Party led by Peter Robinson, followed by the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party led by Reg Empey. Both parties are active across Northern Irelandmarker. On a smaller level, the Progressive Unionist Party, which is the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) paramilitary group, attracts some support in the greater Belfast area, while the UK Unionist Party is centred on North Down and the United Unionist Coalition is a loose grouping of independent candidates across Northern Ireland. The pluralist Conservative Party (officially named the Conservative and Unionist Party) also organises in Northern Ireland. While the Alliance Party supports the status quo position of Northern Ireland, it does not define itself as Unionist.

Moderate unionists who support the principle of equal citizenship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have campaigned for mainstream British political parties to organise and contest elections in Northern Ireland. Equal citizenship pressure groups have included the Campaign for Equal Citizenship (CEC), Labour Representation Campaign, Democracy Now and, currently, Labour - Federation of Labour Groups. Momentum for this concept picked up after the Conservative Party Conference voted in favour of working in Northern Ireland in 1989. The Conservatives currently have one councillor on Down District Council, who was elected as an Ulster Unionist. No Conservative has been elected in Northern Ireland since the 1997 local government elections.

Under legal pressure from local trade unionists, Labour accepted members from the Northern Ireland in October 2002 and in September 2006 agreed to organise through a forum. The Liberal Democrats have a branch in Northern Ireland but do not contest elections.

Pro-union parties and independents contest elections and represent their constituents at a number of different levels. There is a unionist presence at election time in all parliamentary constituencies. A Unionist win is a virtual certainty in ten constituencies: East Antrim, North Antrimmarker, South Antrim, Belfast North, Belfast East, North Down, Lagan Valley, East Londonderry, Strangford, Upper Bann.

Twenty peers in the House of Lords owe their peerages to a direct connection with Northern Irelandmarker, usually through a political party. Of these eight Ulster Unionists (sitting as Cross-benchers) three Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), two Conservative two Labour and one Liberal Democrat and the rest independent. As well as the two Unionist MEPs in the European Parliamentmarker, DUP MP Nigel Dodds is also an alternate member of the UK Parliament delegations to the Council of Europe and Western European Union and Unionists also participate in the EU Committee of the Regions.

Unionist candidates stand for election in most district electoral areas (small areas which make up district councils) in Northern Ireland. Exceptions, in 2005, were Slieve Gullion in South Armagh, Upper and Lower Falls in Belfastmarker, Shantallow, Northland and Cityside in Derrymarker - all of which are strongly nationalist. Likewise, nationalist parties and candidates did not contest some areas in North Antrimmarker, East Antrim, East Belfast, North Down and the Strangford constituency which are strongly unionist and therefore unlikely to return a nationalist candidate.

Local government in Northern Ireland is not entirely divided on nationalist-unionist lines and the level of political tension within a council depends on the district that it represents and its direct experience of the Troubles.

Recent Unionist Electoral Performance in Northern Ireland
Level Election Total seats Unionist seats Unionist poll Unionist % vote
Northern Ireland Assembly 2007 108 55 329,826 47.8%
House of Commonsmarker 2005 18 10 371,888 51.8%
Local Government 2005 582 302 343,148 48.8%
European Parliamentmarker 2004 3 2 266,925 48.6%
Northern Ireland Assembly 2003 108 59 352,886 51.0%

Southern Irish Unionism/Neo-Unionism

After 1890, and particularly during the period from the start of the First World War to the mid 1920s, the number of Unionists in what is now the Republic of Irelandmarker declined to a point where their numbers were widely regarded as almost insignificant. This is attributed to a number of factors:
  • Land reform from the 1870s to the 1900s, arranged by the Land Commission. This broke up many of the large Protestant-owned estates, many of whose former owners chose in the 1920s to use their compensation money to settle in Britain, often in other estates that they owned there.
  • The disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871. This led the Church to sell many of its properties, in the process laying off many Protestant workers who subsequently moved away.
  • World War I. Irish Unionists participated in the War at a higher rate than Nationalists, some of whom opposed participation on principle, and there was a very high casualty rate in Irish regiments.
  • The Irish War of Independence and its aftermath. During the War, some elements of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) allegedly conducted a campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing against Unionists in parts of the country such as Cork. Historians disagree as to whether such murders were isolated incidents or parts of a wider organised campaign. Attacks continued in the 1920s against many Unionists who had assisted the British in the War, and in the process 300 historic homes were burned. Such attacks were said to be reprisals for the British forces' destruction of the homes and property of republicans, actual or suspected.
  • Emigration. Large numbers of Unionists left Ireland (voluntarily or otherwise) in the years before and after independence, mainly for Northern Irelandmarker, Great Britainmarker and Canadamarker.
  • Assimilation. Many of the Unionists who remained assimilated to some extent into the majority nationalist culture. This was encouraged by the Free State government, and was largely accepted with resignation. The process was accelerated by the pro-Free State stance taken by most Unionists in the Irish Civil War. The process of assimilation had begun prior to Irish independence, with a number of Protestant Nationalists playing leading roles in the Irish nationalist and Gaelic revival movements.
  • Intermarriage and the Ne Temere decree. Unionists were and are largely Protestant, and in many mixed households the children were brought up as Catholics, often because of family or community pressure and the papal Ne Temere decree. There was also a surplus of marriageable female Unionists in the aftermath of World War I who could not find Protestant husbands.

Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that there was little evidence of widespread discrimination against Protestants in what was then the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland. The first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde (1938 – 1945) was Protestant, though only two senior Irish politicians attended his Church of Ireland funeral.

Some Unionists in the south simply adapted and began to associate themselves with the new southern Irish regime of Cumann na nGaedhael. On January 19, 1922, leading Unionists held a meeting and unanimously decided to support the Free State government. Many gained appointment to the Free State's Senate, including the Earl of Dunraven and Thomas Westropp Bennett. Several generations of one Unionist political family, the Dockrells, won election as Teachta Dála(TDs). The Dublin borough of Rathminesmarker had a unionist majority up to the late 1920s, when a local government re-organisation abolished all Dublin borough councils. Later, the Earl of Granard and the Provost of Trinity College Dublinmarker gained appointment to the President of Ireland's advisory body, the Council of State. Most Irish Unionists, however, simply withdrew from public life, and since the late 1920s there have been no self-professed Unionists elected to the Irish parliament.

The present day

Distinctions exist between several different types of contemporary Southern unionism:
  • The broad unionist tradition, comprising those with a strong cultural or ethnic identification with Britain but not entailing any concrete commitment to unionist politics. This continues to be a small but significant element within Irish society.
  • Partitionist unionism, corresponding with the position of unionists in Northern Irelandmarker. This favours the maintenance of Northern Ireland's political connection with the United Kingdommarker, and hence entails opposition to a united Ireland.
  • Neo-unionism, the aspiration for the whole of Ireland to be reintegrated into the United Kingdommarker. The extent of support for this is widely regarded as negligible both in the Republic of Ireland and in Britain.

Today, the Reform Movement, the Irish Unionist Alliance, and the Loyal Irish Union are active Irish Unionist or Neo-Unionist organisations in the Republic of Ireland.

While southern unionists in many ways identify with their Northern counterparts, one respect in which they differ is describing themselves as Irish unionists. Some northern unionists no longer like to regard themselves as Irish at all because of a perception that the discourse of Irishness has become associated with a narrow and politicised Gaelic cultural nationalism. They prefer the term Ulster Unionist. Southern unionists contend that Irish does not necessarily imply Gaelic, and the term Ulster unionist is both geographically incorrect (over one third of Ulster is in the Republic of Ireland) and excludes unionists from the rest of Ireland.

Southern Irish unionists are sometimes referred to as Anglo-Irish, an often incorrect term as many Irish of English descent, such as Theobald Wolfe Tone and Roger Casement, were staunch nationalists. A more pejorative term for them, and for other Irish people seen as being unduly influenced by Britain and British culture, is West Britons or West Brits, and amongst older working class communities with traditional Protestant inhabitants (north inner-city Dublin) shoneens.


See also

Unionism in Northern Ireland


Wider interests

Unionist political parties



Books and reports


The following Unionist parties have contested at least one election in Northern Ireland since 2001 and produced online manifestos (all PDF format):
Conservative and Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)





Analytical sites do not necessarily imply support for political causes:


Lambeg Drum competition in Tyrone on 12 July
Cultural sites do not necessarily imply support for political causes:

Integrationist (with Great Britain)


A number of Acts of Parliament and other laws provide a legal framework for the union:

Political parties

Southern Ireland/Neo-Unionist


Some official agencies and organisations at a national level have developed specific structural links as part of the union. These links reflect the responsibilities of the agency or organisation to the citizens of Northern Irelandmarker and the other UK regions. However, they do not indicate support for political unionism as the UK Civil Service is regulated by strict laws on impartiality. In addition, Northern Ireland is nowadays part of a web of co-operative links with the Republic of Irelandmarker (north-south), the United Kingdommarker (east-west), the European Union and the United Statesmarker.


Central Government




Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address