Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anti-Vietnam War Movement

Check out 3 short video clips on the Anti - Vietnam Movment. 1. News Reel . 2. from RTE's Reeling in the Years. 3. Anti-Vietnam Music protest.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nixon - I'm not a crook !

One of my students explained to me that he used to have a key ring with a button on it and when pressed it had Nixon's voice saying "I'm not a crook". Here is the actual video footage of this as promised!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kim Phuc's Story

If you are interested in finding out more about the story of the young girl, Kim Phuc, who was burned by napalm in the clip below, see the link for a summary and some primary source material.

History of theVietnam War - Part 3

This third clip in the series of the History of the Vietnam war focuses on 'The chemical destruction' of Vietnam and it's painful effect on Vietnamese people. It also examines the effect of the war on US soldiers. Very disturbing and violent scenes in places, so please be aware of this if you chose to watch it. (especially at the beginning of the clip - images of dead babies kept in a lab, with congenital abnormalities resulting from the chemicals sprayed - and at the end of the clip - the violent shooting of a young man and the famous footage of a young girl running on a road, her back burned by napalm bombs).


What is the significance of the Coleraine University Controversy in the history of Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s?

According to John Hume the decision to locate the University in Coleraine “electrified the nationalist side……and was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement” in Northern Ireland. It allowed for unrest to build up within the Nationalist communities which eventually spilled out into the Troubles.

Catholics had always felt alienated in what they considered a protestant state. They deeply resented the Special Powers Act and the B-specials. They felt completely let down by the Northern Ireland constitution, whether they were on welfare or in the public service.The location of the university was seen as biased in favour of a Protestant town. Yet another way of undermining the Nationalists was keeping the Belfast-Coleraine-Portadown triangle economically strong at the cost of catholic communities. As Hume said “to cause a migration from the west to east Ulster, redistributing and scattering the minority so that the Unionist Party will not only maintain but strengthen in position.”

John Hume was a leading figure in this controversy. He was part of the University for Derry Committee which was established after Coleraine had been decided upon. He organised a protest meeting with O’Neill and his Minister of Education. A protest rally to Stormont was arranged while in Derry, pubs and shops closed in protest. He was one of the newly emerging educated middle-class Catholics along with Austin Currie and Bernadette Devlin who founded the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in 1967. They had five basic demands: one person one vote, end to gerrymandering, laws against discrimination, repeal of the Special Powers Act and an end to the B-Specials. No longer was there a demand for an end to partition; now Catholics insisted that if they were part of the UK, they should be afforded the same rights as all other citizens in the UK. They staged numerous civil rights marches to protest on housing allocation, accesses to employment and the West of the Bann Policy. The NICRA was mainly aimed at a local level, improving the city of Derry in a peaceful way. He became a founding member of the SDLP party in 1971 and succeeded Gerry Fitt as its leader.

O’Neill was the Northern Ireland PM throughout this controversy. It was said that “nameless, faceless men from Londonderry” had met O’Neill and Falk (min.of Ed) to advise them against Derry as the location for the university or indeed any further industrial or social development. Patrick Gormley, a Nationalist MP backed up this claim and said that these “faceless men” believed that such development in Derry might affect the Unionist control of the City Council. Division within the Unionist party developed with two members voting against their own party. O’Neill’s government won the vote to accept the Lockwood Report by 27 votes to 19. O’Neill now attempted to ease mounting tensions by introducing moderate reforms. Violent disturbances continued. An ambush at Burntollet in Jan 1969 led O’Neill to set up commission to enquire into the disturbances. A series of bomb attacks by loyalists aimed at provoking a government response against Republicans was too much for Unionist MPs and they forced him to resign. It was later said that he was “quite literally blown out of office”.

The University of Ulster, Coleraine, officially opened its doors in Oct 1968. By then the tensions between Nationalists and Unionists had dramatically escalated, leading to the outbreak of the troubles which would carry on through the 1970s and beyond. The marching season in July resulted in rioting by Protestant militants. In August the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry led to ferocious rioting by Catholics. The police began to use CS gas for the first time. They were assisted by the much hated B-Specials. This further angered Catholics. The British Army now entered Northern Ireland. The IRA split into the Official and Provisional IRA in 1970. The British Army became the focus of IRA aggression which was seen as defending Orangeism. Northern Ireland was now on its way to thirty years of violence.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Why did the Power-Sharing Executive collapse in May, 1974?

The main reason for the collapse of the Power-Sharing Executive (PSE) was that a clear majority of Unionists opposed the Agreement and supported the Ulster Workers Council (UWC) strike. Many of the strikers worked in electric power stations where the majority of workers were protestant. They called a strike on 15th May 1974. They cut electricity output and as a result people couldn’t cook, factories closed, sewage plants could not work and hospitals were threatened. The loyalist paramilitaries supported the strikers. They blocked roads and threatened workers who wanted to work. The RUC and army did not get involved. They did not believe it was there duty to stop a strike. Support for the strike grew stronger when PM Wilson accused the Northern Irish people of sponging off the British people. The Executive now feared a break-down in society so they resigned.

In Britain, PM Heath lost the general election and Wilson with a Labour government returned to power. Merlyn Rees was appointed Northern Ireland Secretary. He was a hesitant and indecisive man. He failed to order the British army to dismantle the barricades during the UWC strike. Many believed that Rees did not want to go against the majority of Protestants who opposed the PSE. Nationalists believed that his hesitation to act against the strike meant it was too late when it took off for earnest. He probably hesitated for the following three reasons: the general election had showed that a majority of Unionist opposed the Agreement. The army did not want to take on the Loyalists. Finally, the Agreement had been put in place by the Conservatives which meant the Labour party were less likely to be concerned about its fate.

Unionist opposition to the PSE was immense. The Ulster Unionist party had split between those Pledged to the White Paper who supported Faulkner and the Unpledged led by Harry West. Faulkner was forced into a resignation in January 1974 when his party called for a motion against the PSE. Harry West took over the leadership of the Party. Rev Ian Paisley was the founder of the DUP. He was extremely vocal about his opposition to the PSE. He made numerous demonstrations both within and outside Stormont to protest against it. The Vanguard was a group led by Craig who had split much earlier from the Ulster Unionist Party because of their discussions at Sunningdale with Nationalists. Followers of the Orange Order were also leading the anti-PSE move. These various Unionist groupings formed the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) to oppose the PSE in any way it could. They treated the general election like a referendum. They put forward anti-Agreement candidates in all 12 of the Northern Ireland constituencies. They won 11 seats. This result completely undermined the PSE. Paisley, Craig and West all won seats.

The Unionists feared the Council of Ireland would force them into a United Ireland. The Boland Case in Dublin compounded these fears as did talks of Irish re-unification in the South. The Council would have strong powers. It would include members of the Dail and the Assembly and deal with important issues like policing. Faulkner was promised that Cosgrave would acknowledge the right of Northern Ireland to exist as long as the Unionists wanted it (however the Boland Case had stopped this from happening). Faulkner was left with little room to manoeuvre. It proved just too difficult a concept to sell to the Unionist Community.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Visit to Belfast - Tuesday Dec 1st 2009

See below photos of our visit to Belfast with 5th and 6th year History students. An excellent educational trip - very useful for bringing the new prescribed topic on 'Northern Ireland' to life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The 'Cold War'.

I found this quite useful short video, summarising some of the background to and key flashpoints of the 'Cold War'. I think it is a bit 'simplistic' in places but nevertheless a good starting point and includes interesting primary source footage. Let me know what you think of it.

Vietnam War Maps

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Vietnam War - Warfare and Tactics

This clip includes interesting observations on the tactics of warfare from different viewpoints - a US General who was Chief of Staff of US Airforce and the main Vietnamese General and leader.(Warning - some disturbing scenes towards the end - dead bodies)

The US General observes " We dropped 6 and a half million tons of bombs on Vietnam and still lost the war".

Question to consider - Why did the most powerful country in the world suffer defeat in Vietnam?

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Summary of The Sunningdale Agreement and Power-Sharing Executive 1973-1974

~ 1972- Whitelaw(Northern Ireland Secretary) calls a meeting for all parties
~ Border Poll to ease Unionist worries: boycotted by Nationalists but Unionists
99% support for remaining part of the UK
~ White paper from Whitelaw has 4 key components: 1) Assembly 2) Executive 3) Council of Ireland 4) Guarantee that Northern Ireland remains part of UK as long as majority want it.
~ Split in Unionists: Faulkner leads Unionist Party supported by moderates and agree to White Paper must pledge their support now called “Pledged” Unionists”
~ Those Unionist against: Paisley and DUP, Craig and his Vanguard party, Orange Order and the “Unpledged” Unionists led by Harry West.
~ The Nationalist welcome White Paper with caution support from SDLP
~ Republicans reject it as it reinforces partition
~ Election results: 64% in favour of Power-Sharing, 36% against
~ All factions of Unionists results: 26 seats for anti-White Paper 24 seats for pro-White Paper
~ Faulkner now in a difficult position to unite Unionists within his own party and the more extreme Unionists.

~ Whitehall has great skill and patience as a negotiator
~ Faulkner wants a Unionist majority in the Executive
~ Council of Ireland agreed on and would have influence on policing and representatives from the Dail.
~ SDLP agree to end rate strike against internment
~ Whitelaw called back to London and replaced by Francis Pym, ( no experience)
~ 6th Dec. meet in Sunningdale, Berkshire
~ Liam Cosgrave, Taoiseach along with Garret Fitzgerald and Conor Cruise O Brien attend
~ John Hume from SDLP good negotiator for Nationalists- gets real power for the Council of Ireland which could open doors for a United Ireland at a later date
~ Prime Minister Heath chairs the meeting and quickly gets impatient with Unionists.
~ Irish Government agrees to give a verbal agreement on Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK as long as the majority wanted it.
~ Conference ends 9th Dec and that was the Sunningdale Agreement

~ 1ST JAN 1974, Faulkner as Chief Minister and Gerry Fitt (SDLP) as Deputy, power-sharing begins
~ Orange Order, DUP, Vanguard and Unpledged Unionists led by Harry West unite to form the United Ulster Unionist Council ( UUUC) is created to resist power-sharing and a Council of Ireland.
~ Faulkner resigns as leader of the Unionist party after a motion on the Council of Ireland fails to pass at a meeting. He is replaced by Harry West.
~ Faulkner sets up the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland
~ IRA and Loyalist attacks continue
~ Election called by Heath against the advice of the Executive who said it was bad timing
~ UUUC use election as a referendum on Sunningdale and put forward one anti-Agreement candidate in each constituency
~ UUUC win 11 out of 12 of the Westminster seats (Paisley, Craig and West all win)
~ Gerry Fitt the only pro-agreement candidate to win a seat.
~ In Britain, Heath (Conservative) loses the election and Wilson becomes PM (Labour )
~ Pym replaced by Meryln Rees as Northern Ireland Secretary (indecisive and not as committed a party)
~ Assembly remained despite violent and abusive behaviour from anti-agreement members

~ Northern Ireland industries employed predominantly protestant workers.
~ The Ulster Workers’ Council was a group of loyalist workers who worked in shipbuilding, engineering and electricity generation.
~ 15th May 1974, they called a strike
~ Loyalist paramilitaries became involved and workers were ‘persuaded’ not to return to work.
~ Road blockades were established and youths armed with clubs turned back lorries delivering milk, groceries or petrol.
~ Strikers managed to cut electricity out-put by 60% and more factories were forced to close.
~ The British Army and Police stood by and did nothing.
~ Many Protestants supported the strike.
~ The UWC did not alienate their own and made sure needed supplies got through to Protestant areas.
~ Loyalists were strongly suspected as being involved in bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan in May.
~ The Executive was isolated and had no control.
~ Rees the Northern Ireland Secretary failed to stop the strikes.
~ Faulkner tried to get the Dublin government to reduce the powers of the Council of Ireland and despite them agreeing to hold off implementing it was too late.
~ Hospitals were about to close and the Executive resigned.
~ The Power-Sharing Executive had ended in failure.

~ Northern Ireland Secretary Rees was unwilling to use the police and army to stop the strike.
~ The Labour party under Wilson who were in power were not as keen as the Conservatives about the Agreement.
~ The UWC strike brought the North to a halt.
~ The Council of Ireland was greatly feared by the Unionists as they believed it would lead to a United Ireland.

Vietnam War - the background

Check out this clip, exploring the background to the Vietnam War. Warning - some disturbing scenes (Buddist monk sets fire to himself as protest)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Some significant moments in the Civil Rights Struggle
1948 - Truman signs law to desegregate in the armed forces
1954 - landmark case, Brown vs Board of education - unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
1955 - NAACP member Rosa Parkes refuses to give up her seat in a bus in Montgomery, leading to a successful year long bus boycott by the black community.
1956 - Victory for the bus boycott and desegregation of buses in Montgomery
1957 - 'Little Rock Nine' students are blocked from entering a formerly 'white only' Central High School by State Troops. US president Eisenhower sends in The National Guard to support the students action.
1960 - Student sit ins at Lunch counters and public places
1961 - 'Freedom Riders', on interstate buses in the South, test out the new laws prohibiting segregation.
1963 - Protests marches against segregation in Birmingham get international attention when the police use police dogs and hoses against civil rights protesters.
1963 - March on Washington - Martin Luther King delivers 'I have a dream speech'
1964 - 'Freedom Summer' - civil rights movement to register black voters.
1964 - Civil Rights Act comes into law , prohibiting discrimination in public places..
1965 - Selma to Montgomery March to support voting rights. Attacked by police. 'Bloody Sunday'
1965 - Voting Rights Act passed. Tests used to restrict black voting are made illegal.
1968 - Martin Luther King is shot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Civil Rights Movement in the US

Video clips 1. the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 2. The Civil Rights Movement. 3. Trailer for the film Mississippi Burning

Questions to consider.
1. How significant was the Montgomery bus boycott for the development of the Civil Rights movement?

Case Study - Coleraine University Controversy

(edited from
1961: Robbins Committee set up to report on future of higher education in Britain
May 1963: Stormont government decides to establish a committee to investigate needs of higher education in NI.
Autumn 1963: Sir John Lockwood will be secretary to committee, consisting of eight people with expertise in different aspects of education, four based in England and none Catholic.
June 1964: Lockwood Committe draws up its shortlist – Magee is not included.
14th Jan 1965: O'Neill controversially receives Lemass in Belfast.
30th Jan 1965: Basil McFarland, former mayor of Derry, says he doubts Lockwood report will “do Derry much good” leading to foundation of University for Derry Committee (also known as Action Committee).
8th Feb 1965: Large protest meeting at Guildhall in Derry.
9th Feb 1965: O'Neill is first NI PM to visit Dublin since 1921.
10th Feb 1965: Lockwood Report published recommending Coleraine as site for new university and Magee College to be closed down.
18th Feb 1965: Two-minute silence in Derry with many shops and businesses closed in protest. Opposition is cross-community. 2,000 vehicle motorcade to Stormont led jointly by Derry's Unionist Mayor and a Nationalist MP.
Mar 1965: Lockwood shocked at bitter reaction to his decision and at length and scale of parliamentary debate (three days). Despite heated discussion and defection of two Unionists Mps, O'Neill's government wins the vote 27:19.
May 1965: Magee trustees agree to compromise whereby the college will become a constituent college of Coleraine University, with full degree courses – not honoured.
May 1965: Unionist MP Robert Nixon makes his “faceless men” allegation, backed up by Nationalist MP Patrick Gormley – that hardline Unionists had approached O'Neill and advised him against any future development for Derry (educational, economic or otherwise) so that an increase in Catholic voters would not materialise and Unionist control of Derry would not end. Nixon expelled from UPP and a petition of 15,000 names fails to move the government to investigate the matter.
1969: Magee College absorbed into new University of Ulster.
Context Questions
1. Explore the significance of this controversy in the context of 'west of the bann' policy.
2. Explore the significance of this in relation to subsequent events in Northern Ireland to 1969. (claims that this was a key catalyst in the development of the Civil Rights Movement.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Case Study - The Sunningdale Agreement and the failure of Power Sharing

The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to get unionists to share power with nationalists. The Agreement had three parts—an elected Northern Ireland Assembly, a power-sharing cross-community Northern Ireland Executive and a cross border - Council of Ireland. The Agreement was signed in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on December 9th 1973. Unionist opposition, violence, a loyalist 'Ulster Workers' Council Strike" and inaction by the British Government contributed to the collapse of the Agreement in May 1974.

Context questions to consider.

1. What events/circumstances lead to the creation of the first Power Sharing agreement?
2. What caused the collapse of the Power Sharing executive?
3. What was the significance of the Sunningdale Agreement and Powersharing executive?

Play from about 5 mins onwards of the first clip. Includes most of the second clip

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland

Check out this section of 'The Troubles ' focusing on the Civil Rights Movement.


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