In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland

Fionnula O. Connor, Author
Fionnula O. Connor, Author Blackstaff Press $18.95 (393p) ISBN 978-0-85640-509-9
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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With the new initiatives taken by the British and Irish governments to bring Sinn Fein into the peace process and find new solutions, this book may help readers understand the hopes and fears of Northern Ireland's Catholic population. The author, a Belfast-born Catholic journalist who is married to a Protestant, interviewed 50 Catholics for this book and although these subjects are strangely anonymous and interchangeable, their ideas and opinions are fascinating. The most startling revelation--in numbers that must be alarming to Protestants--is the growing Catholic middle class: Catholics make up 42% of the population; 35% of the civil service; and most startling of all, 50% of Queen's University--which was 70% Protestant in 1969. O Connor goes on to examine the attitudes of this emerging Catholic middle class as they confront the complex political realities of the time, looking at their traditional distrust of Britain; their attitudes toward the Republic; the continuing power of the Church; and the love-hate relationship with the IRA (some insist that they no longer have any support; others like to have them around just in case of a ``pogrom''). Add interesting profiles of such diverse individuals as SDLP's John Hume, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, and Cardinal Cathal Daly and readers will find this a timely, insightful and surprising book that challenges long-held assumptions about how Catholics in Northern Ireland view their country and themselves. (July)
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