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.