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Who talked about Unionism and justice?

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Ireland - Ireland FAQs and Trivia
Written by Hugh McManus   

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009 18:54

Who made the following statement and in what context? "Unionism armed with justice will be a stronger cause than Unionism armed merely with strength."

Answer, Terence O'Neill in his "Ulster at the Crossroads" speech on December 9, 1968.  O'Neill served as prime minister for Northern Ireland until May of 1969.  The speech was delivered in response to escalating tensions in the North.  It was televised on BBC Northern Ireland and on UTV.  It did generate some controversy within his own party.  William "Bill" Craig, the Home Minister who was sympathetic to recently announced the unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia, was critical of the speech.  He was fired on December 11, 1968.

An excerpt follows:

Ulster stands at the crossroads. … Our conduct over the coming days will decide our future. … These issues are far too serious to be determined behind closed doors or left to noisy minorities. … For more than five years now, I have tried to heal some of the deep divisions in our community.  I did so because I could not see how an Ulster divided against itself could hope to stand.  …

There are, I know, today some so-called loyalists who talk of independence from Britain—who seem to want a protestant Sinn Féin.  These people will not listen when they are told that Ulster's income is £200 million a year but that we can spend £3000 million a year because Britain pays the balance. … Rhodesia, in defying Britain from thousands of miles away, at least has an air force and an army of her own.  Where are the Ulster armored divisions and the Ulster jet planes?

… Unionism armed with justice will be a stronger cause than Unionism armed merely with strength. … What kind of Ulster do you want?  A happy and respected province in good standing with the rest of the United Kingdom?  Or a place continually torn apart by riots and demonstrations and regarded by the rest of Britain as a political outcast?

 

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