The Son Of Capt.A O'neill Capt.Terence O'neil And The Role He Played As P.M. Of Northern Ireland

1834 words - 8 pages

Captain Arthur Son of O'Neill MP; educated at Eton College. His father was the first Westminster MP to be killed in the First World War. He served in the Irish Guards in the Second World War, in which both his elder brothers were killed.After a succession of junior offices, Captain O'Neill, as he was known, became Minister for Finance in 1956 and in 1963 succeeded Brookeborough as Prime Minister. His policies were new: to attract investment to the ailing shipbuilding and linen industries, to forge new links with the trade unions, to bring Protestants and Catholics into working relationships, and to end sectarianism and the long injustice of Protestant rule. A historic event was the visit of ...view middle of the document...

During the crises of the Cold War, however, they found it difficult to arouse international interest.Then in 1949 the Taoiseach, John A Costello, announced that Eire would become the Republic of Ireland. Brooke seized the opportunity to strengthen Unionist representation in an election, and the raising of money in the south at chapel gates for Anti-Partition League candidates reinforced his warnings that the Union was in peril.Prime Minister Clement Attlee gave him the guarantee he sought in the Ireland Act of 1949 that 'in no event will Northern Ireland cease to be part of his Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the parliament of Northern Ireland'. The IRA launched a campaign in November 1956 against barracks and other installations along the border. It continued fitfully until February 1962 without achieving any major objective - indeed it strengthened Brookeborough's argument that the Union was always in danger.Following criticisms that he was not doing enough to stimulate Northern Ireland's economy, Brookeborough resigned in 1963. Captain Terence O'Neill, who had been Minister of Finance, replaced him. O'Neill stated at Stormont that his principal aims were 'to make Northern Ireland economically stronger and prosperous... and to build bridges between the two traditions within our community'.Dedicated though he was to the constitutional status quo, O'Neill was the first Northern Ireland prime minister to state clearly that reconciliation was a central part of his programme. He went out of his way to visit Catholic schools. to be photographed in the presence of nuns, and to make mould-breaking gestures of conciliation. He was fortunate in being able to launch his economic programme at a time when world-trading conditions were buoyant, and when the Republic of Ireland was not only transforming its economy but also seeking friendlier co-operation with the United Kingdom.Sean Lemass, Taoiseach since 1959, abandoned the overt irredentism of previous governments; his view was that the best way to end partition was to raise living standards in the south so markedly that northern Protestants would be eager to reunite the country. He knew that better relations with Britain were vital to the success of his economic strategy. That must include a rapprochement with Northern Ireland, but Brookeborough flatly refused to touch the hand of friendship offered on several occasions.O'Neill was so entirely different from his predecessor that it was he who invited Lemass to Stormont. O'Neill informed his colleagues of the visit only on the morning that Lemass arrived in Belfast on 14th January 1965. The Taoiseach broke his silence only in the lavatory of Stormont House by saying; 'I shall get into terrible trouble for this'. In retrospect it was O'Neill who was taking the greater risk.That evening on television the Prime Minister justified the meeting, observing that north and south 'share the same rivers, the same mountains, and...

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