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The formation of the Ulster Home Guard

  • William Butler (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This article explores the problems encountered in the formation of the Ulster Home Guard, supposedly a direct equivalent to its well-known British counterpart, as part of the paramilitary Ulster Special Constabulary in Northern Ireland, during the Second World War. Predictably, the Ulster Home Guard became an almost exclusively Protestant organisation which led to many accusations of sectarianism from a variety of different national and international voices. This became a real concern for the British government, as well as the army, which understandably wished to avoid any such controversy. Though assumptions had previously been made about the numbers of Catholics in the force, this article explores just how few joined the organisation throughout the war. Additionally, the article investigates the rather awkward constitutional position in which the Ulster Home Guard was placed. Under the Government of Ireland Act, the Stormont administration had no authority on matters of home defence. It did, however, have the power to raise a police force as a way to maintain law and order. Still, the Ulster Home Guard, although formed as part of the Ulster Special Constabulary, was entrusted solely with home defence and this had wider implications for British policy towards Northern Ireland throughout the Second World War.

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Corresponding author
*School of History, University of Kent, W.M.Butler@kent.ac.uk
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Irish Historical Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-1214
  • EISSN: 2056-4139
  • URL: /core/journals/irish-historical-studies
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