The Beginnings of Devolved Government in Northern Ireland

Date: 28/05/2015 11:55

With the future of the Northern Ireland Assembly currently uncertain, we look back to 1921 and the beginnings of devolved legislature for the region with this newsreel that marks the opening of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in June of that year.

This was an event of  huge importance, of symbolic significance, but also a pivotal moment in the Irish War of Independence, with the King, George V, using the occasion as an opportunity to appeal for peace, "to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget".

The King informed James Craig that his entourage had not encouraged him to attend. Indeed, the train carrying the King's cavalry was attacked the next day resulting in four deaths. The IRA agreed a truce a fortnight later on 11th July 1921. This led to talks involving de Valera and the formal negotiations between October and 6th December between Dail plenipotentiaries and the British government.

The newsreel itself depicts the Royal parade down High Street - the Albert clock in the background - soldiers holding back the crowds that throng the streets, the buildings dressed in bunting, flags and banners. An intertitle harks back to darker days, 'Recalling the Terror before the Truce', Black and Tan soldiers seen in the back of a jeep travelling down a city street.

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