Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles
(Irish Academic Press, 315 PP, £17.99)
Tablet bookshop price £16.19 • tel 020 7799 4064
Books on Northern Ireland’s Troubles can be both depressing and depressingly predictable. There are exceptions, however. Simon Prince is an English historian who has been trying for years to move beyond the biased histories, both Unionist and Nationalist. His Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles, originally published in 2007, has been updated and re-released to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Troubles.
In 1968 the Ulster Unionist Party was ruling Northern Ireland from the devolved local parliament at Stormont. The picture Prince paints is of a stale sectarian regime with few ideas, despite some enlightened elements such as Prime Minister Terence O’Neill. The Stormont Government sensed, however, that time was running out on the one-party state, a forgotten backwater in British politics since the Partition of Ireland in 1922. Harold Wilson’s Labour Government was taking an ever-greater interest in the flagrant discrimination against Catholics then rife in Northern Ireland.