A People Under Siege: The Unionists of Northern Ireland, from Partition to Brexit and Beyond
In Northern Ireland’s centenary year, military and political historian Aaron Edwards, a native of Belfast, explores the profound challenges facing Unionists, as extraordinary uncertainty hangs over the future of the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Since the Brexit referendum of 2016, extraordinary uncertainty has hung over the future of the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, creating a crisis for the unionist community. A referendum that began on the question of sovereignty quickly degenerated into cries of betrayal over a redrawn border in the Irish Sea, and has led to unionists becoming more insular again, resurrecting ethnic and nationalist notions of what constitutes the Union.
In A People Under Siege, historian Aaron Edwards, a native of Belfast, explores the profound challenges facing the community and, in the process, articulates what is really meant by unionism. He explains key developments within unionism over the past turbulent century and examines how a people who believe themselves to be once again under siege are viewed by others beyond their community. In doing so he confronts the narrow, sectional beliefs and prejudices of unionists and loyalists, as well as outlining their more positive and forward-thinking aspects. By embracing these, Edwards explains how divisions could be healed and a position reached of mutual acceptance, tolerance and understanding that will benefit the entire population.
Prologue: In a Little World of Their Own?
- A State Born in Violence
- The People of Independent Thought
- Masters of Our Own House
- Whipping Up the New Recruits
- Responsible Members of the Community
- An Ulster Divided Against Itself
- A Regime Under Fire
- A Very Loyalist Coup
- Prisoners of the IRA’s Strategy
- The Duisburg Formula
- An Image Problem
- Lifting the Siege
- Ulster’s Answer to Leaderless Resistance
- The Changing of the Guard
- A People Under Siege (Again)
- Toppling the New Tower of Babel
- Circling the Wagons
- Political Unionism and the Greater Good
About the Author
Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester. He is the author of several books, including Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire (2014), UVF: Behind the Mask (2017) and Agents of Influence (2021). His work has been featured in The Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph, Belfast News Letter and The Irish News.