Stormont Election

Category : Wars and Conflict


Stormont Election

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

Stormont Election

Category: Wars and Conflict