Englishmen and Irish Troubles
British Public Opinion and the Making of Irish Policy, 1918-1922
Since October 1968, the British people have watched with dismay and disbelief the re-emergence of a problem which they thought had vanished forever.For the first time in nearly half a century, Irish questions began to make headlines in the British press, and a catalog of expressions with which past generations were only too familiar—“loyalist," "separatist," "Ulster Volunteer Force," and "Irish Republican Army"—once again became the everyday reading of the British public, to their dismay and disbelief.
This book analyzes British attitudes about the Irish question between 1918 and 1922, examining the part played by public opinion in the formulation of government policy during this period. It begins with the general election of December 1918, when Lloyd George and his coalition colleagues asked for, and received, a mandate to introduce a measure of self-government to Ireland. The ensuing conflict is traced and the theme pursued up to June 1922, when the British Government accepted the draft constitution of the Irish Free State, thus initiating the Irish civil war.
The author has drawn on a wide range of British newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, and other literature, as well as on private papers of the leading protagonists. His investigation helps to elucidate the complex issue of British involvement in Ireland and the historical processes leading to the crisis which began October 1968. On a broader scale, the book is a fascinating examination of the relationship between public opinion and government policy in a democracy.