The Disadvantages Faced By Catholics In Northern Ireland In The Mid 1960’s

1731 words - 7 pages

The Disadvantages Faced by Catholics in Northern Ireland in the Mid-1960’s

Since the partition of 1921 the Catholics and Protestants in Northern
Ireland had been unable to live on equal terms together. The North
became Northern Ireland and the south the Republic of Ireland. It was
not really an event, for decades Britain had resisted Home rule but by
1919 the attitudes were altering. A majority of Northern Ireland were
Protestants, the Catholics only made up 33% of the population, and the
66% left were Protestants. The Protestants wanted to remain a part of
Britain but the Catholics wanted to become independent and separate
form Ireland. This abhorrence between Catholics and Protestants
resulted in the Catholics having a number of disadvantages. The
tension steadily rose to a high in the 1960’s. Catholic hopes for
strong Unionist opposition hindered better conditions in their lives.
The mainly protestant police saw a wave of violence through clashes
which erupted badly in 1968. This was the start to all the troubles,
which are still experienced today.

The political disadvantages faced by Catholics were caused mainly by
the structure of the elections. There were three types of elections
throughout Northern Ireland. The first was a General Election where
each adult, whether Catholic or Protestant had one vote each. Then
there was the Stormont Election. The Stormont Parliament was meant to
look after not only the interests of the Protestants but of the
Catholics as well. But as the Protestants were a majority of the
population, the Catholics were neglected. This election was where you
could only have two votes if you owned a business or attended
university-this included mostly just Protestants as Catholics did not
own businesses due to education and most students were Protestant.
Then possibly the most important election was the Council Election
where you could only vote if your property was worth over £10(most
Catholics didn’t have that money) or if you were a tenant of a public
authority houses you were allowed to vote -but 2/3 of Protestants
lived in these public authority houses- or if you owned a business or
a company you were entitled to a second vote but most companies were
owned by Protestants. This was important because any Catholic
representing party would have some power in the Stormont Election and
the General Elections, which would mean Catholics, had some say in the
way the area was run. Because the Council Elections were so important
the government used a deceiving tactic called Gerrymandering. When
there were more Catholics than Protestants in one council election
area, the government would move the borders so that the Protestants
would be elected because they would then outnumber the Catholics. We
can see that this happened in Londonderry (Derry) where there was

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