Movies / Documentary →RTE - Partition 1921 (2021)
RTE - Partition 1921 (2021)
English | Size: 872 GB
The Irish Question, which had plagued the British establishment from the early 19th century, essentially became the Ulster Question in the 1910s. How could Irish demands for self-government be reconciled with Ulster unionists' desire to remain British? The answer was the creation of a Unionist-dominated state, leaving independent "Ireland" as what was left over after Northern Ireland was established.
It's a story of unswerving support for the Unionist cause from the British political and social establishment, the Church, the army and the press. Claiming the moral high ground as the oppressed Irish minority community, Ulster Protestants, quite simply, had friends in high places who came to see Home Rule as a threat not only to Irish Protestants under the mastery of their hereditary enemies, the Catholics, but also to the Empire.
From the King of England to high-ranking ministers and army generals, the most powerful people in the land were willing to subvert the Liberal government's Home Rule policy out of loyalty to Ulster Unionism. And when it came to ending the War of Independence, Ulster was the key. Provided the integrity of Northern Ireland remained intact, the British establishment was willing to be flexible, short of granting Sinn Féin an independent republic. In the words of staunch Unionist Andrew Bonar Law, "I would give the South anything or almost anything, but I would not attempt to force anything on Ulster."
Michael Portillo unravels a web of mystery and intrigue woven by the British ruling classes for whom the essential issue was defending Ulster.
In his concluding piece to camera on the grounds of Westminster, he reflects on statements by two crucial characters on the road to partition. David Lloyd George believed he had found the answer to the 'Irish Question' - the creation of Northern Ireland. But his belief was tempered with caution. "I am not going to say that we have found the specific at last. This has been said too often. But we must try; at any rate I can see nothing better."
Michel also references the minorities - Northern Ireland's nationalists and Catholics, as well as the Protestants and unionists left in the Irish Free State - quoting Winston Churchill's statement of 24th May 1922, that these groups must be 'left to stew in their own juice'. As one of Churchill's successors as Britain's Secretary of State for Defence, Portillo considers the consequences of his predecessor's remarks.
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