Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


History and Philosophy

Committee Member

Jesse Kauffman, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Robert Hendershot, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Knight, Ph.D.


Taking as a starting point the framework that the Northern Ireland Troubles were largely fought on confessional sectarian, ethno-national grounds, this essay will analyze the internal and external forces that incited Ulster Protestant political responses from the premiership of Terence O’Neill, beginning in 1963, to the 1985 signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Through an extrapolation of socioeconomic class dynamics, and geographical imperatives informed by such source material as population demographics, election results, distribution of political violence, as well as numerous Protestant organizational publications, it is clear that throughout the early Troubles Protestant Northern Ireland increasingly undertook strategies of various modes of political extremism in order maintain their provincial autonomy. Under the constant pressures of drastically reoriented institutional circumstances disputes between elite Protestant politicians, their constituent bodies, and grassroots working class paramilitary bodies emerged as the single largest ideological cleavage that defined the trajectory of Ulster Protestant political action.