Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Case Study - Coleraine University Controversy

(edited from scchis.googlepages.com)
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.)