This book considers the politics of the Protestant Unionist Loyalist population in Northern Ireland during and following the peace process, and the political positioning of the main organizations representing them as they inch towards a post-conflict society. One central question remains: how, if at all, unionism has changed following the political accord and the establishment of devolved government. McAuley sets out in detail how senses of identity and political processes are understood within unionism and how unionists and loyalists interpret these as a basis for social and political action.
This forms the basis for an investigation of the extent to which the political settlement has been grounded within unionism, and how in turn unionist hegemony has reconstructed around the interpretative frame of the DUP. Drawing on collective memories in a particular way has enabled the DUP to convince broad strands of unionism that they have been able to best identify and resist major threats to the Union, arguing that it was their strategy which finally brought Irish republicanism to account. That reasoning justified their entry into a coalition government with Sinn Féin. This in turn has again brought to the fore the cry of ‘sell-out’ from other unionists, this time aimed directly at the DUP leadership.
Table of Contents
Preface and Overview
1. Understanding Contemporary Unionism
2. Framing Ulster Unionism
3. The Struggle for New Unionism
4. (Re) Claiming Unionism
5. The Politics of New Loyalism
6. Transforming Loyalism?
7. Unionism, Fragmentation and Loyalism
8. Unionism and Loyalism in a Settled Peace?
About the Author
James W. McAuley is Professor of Political Sociology and Irish Studies, and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Huddersfield. He has written widely on various aspects of Northern Irish society, especially unionist and loyalist politics, paramilitarism and community-based politics.