Following a year that had ended in civil unrest and the world media spotlight, 1969 would be no easier for Prime Minister Captain Terence O'Neill. Civil rights protests were increasingly ending in violent clashes and he was under pressure from the British government to introduce reforms quickly. However, the Northern Ireland Premier was being met with opposition from within his own party.
In January 1968, a People's Democracy march from Belfast to Derry had resulted in violence at Burntollet. Civil rights marches at Newry and Armagh had also ended violently. The Reverend Ian Paisley was jailed for his part in events at Armagh. But within the Unionist Party, there was opposition to ideas of reform. When O'Neill established the Cameron Commission to investigate the civil unrest since 5 October, it was denounced by members of his party and sparked the resignation of two government ministers.In late January 1969, when 12 Unionist backbenchers met and demanded that Captain O'Neill be removed from party and government leadership, O'Neill responded by dissolving parliament and calling a general election.
As well as highlighting the split in Unionism, the election saw the emergence of a new generation of politicians. Presented here is some of RTÉ's coverage of the events leading up to the election, the campaign trail and the winners and losers. 'A Divided House' also presents the views of both sides of a divided community as represented by residents of the Falls Road and the Shankill Road.
The accompanying image shows Stormont, the Parliament Building for Northern Ireland. The photograph was taken for use in RTÉ News bulletins.
The photographer was Peter Dorney
© RTÉ Stills Library 2142/060
The resignation of Brian Faulkner, Minister for Commerce, from the Northern Ireland government put pressure on Terence O'Neill and highlighted the division within the Unionist Party.
Minister for Health William Morgan also quit in the wake of Faulkner's resignation, putting further pressure on Captain O'Neill.
Prime Minister Terence O'Neill gives a speech following the resignation of two government ministers.
William Craig talks about the motivations of 12 members of the Unionist Party in writing an open letter to Terence O'Neill calling for a change of leadership to end disunity within the party.
Reverend Ian Paisley says why he thinks that former minister William Morgan is a good candidate to be Prime Minister.
Following a meeting at a Portadown hotel, 12 Unionist MPs call on Captain O'Neill to resign. William Craig explains why.
Brian Faulkner sees no reason for a general election as the differences within the Unionist Party are about leadership not policies.
Ian Paisley says, "My campaign policy is progressive Protestantism, civil and religious liberty, justice for all. Hard-working MPs who will do the job and will do it well."
When asked for his opinion on Bunting and Paisley, Fitt replies, "I have always regarded these two particular men as two eejits" and doesn't think they should be taken seriously at all.
Captain O'Neill explains why he called Ian Paisley a dinosaur and rejects Paisley's accusation that he was afraid to hand in his nomination papers.
Barry Linnane reports on the launch of the Unionist Party manifesto and on press conferences held by Terence O'Neill, Sam Napier of the Northern Ireland Labour Party and Ian Paisley.
Brian Faulkner hopes to benefit from Catholic votes and says that they would be welcome in the Unionist Party.
In Cullybackey, Captain Terence O'Neill and his wife go door to door looking for votes.
Former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Basil Brooke is critical of Captain O'Neill for his meetings with Taoiseach Jack Lynch and his predecessor Seán Lemass.
Chief Whip Roddy O'Connor outlines the Nationalist Party position at the launch of their election manifesto.
Gerry Fitt, Republican Labour Party MP, is critical of the Nationalist Party attitude to partition.
Austin Currie MP seeks to unite those opposed to Unionism.
Ian Paisley accuses Captain O'Neill and the Unionist Party of looking for Catholic votes.
John Taylor, an anti-O'Neill official Unionist candidate in South Tyrone, is critical of the civil rights campaign for having "many out-and-out republicans and anti-partitionists" within the movement.
At a press conference, Captain Terence O'Neill is asked if he now regrets having met with an Taoiseach Seán Lemass in 1965.
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Captain Terence O'Neill, hopes the range of election candidates will revitalise democracy.
Captain Terence O'Neill is greeted with jeers while canvassing in Derry.
Bernadette Devlin campaigns in Tobermore, Co. Derry, where opponents throw coins and jeer while on a Belfast street, pro and anti-O'Neill campaigners meet.
RTÉ News follows a number of candidates on the eve of the General Election.
Captain O'Neill is asked for a comment on southern Minister for Agriculture Mr Blaney's claim that the "Irish people of the six counties" should withhold their votes from candidates who stood for union with Britain.
Kevin O'Kelly sets the scene in Northern Ireland prior to the general election in February 1969.
Kevin O'Kelly speaks to Alex Scott, his family and friends, all of whom live on the Shankill Road. They give their views on the Pope, Catholics, civil rights, the Northern Ireland government and keeping their own religion.
Over on the Falls Road, Catholics Peter Fusco, Martin Blake and their families speak to Kevin O'Kelly.
On his re-election in Larne, Co. Antrim, former Minister for Home Affairs William Craig tells reporter John Ross that Captain Terence O'Neill must now be replaced as party leader and prime minister.
Ivan Cooper talks about his victory in Mid-Derry, where he stood as an independent candidate and defeated Nationalist Party candidate Patrick Gormley.
Captain O'Neill answers questions about the People's Democracy, Ian Paisley, Eddie McAteer, the Catholic vote and north-south relations.
Bernadette Devlin stood as a candidate for the People's Democracy in South Derry, a Unionist constituency.
Eddie McAteer, leader of the Nationalist Party, speaks after losing his seat to John Hume.
Ministers leaving the cabinet meeting were evasive about the future leadership of the Unionist Party.
Roy Bradford announces the results of the Unionist Parliamentary Party vote reaffirming Captain O'Neill's leadership as Prime Minister.