“No idle sightseers”: The Ulster Women’s Unionist Council and the Ulster Crisis (1912-1914)
This paper examines the role of the Ulster Women’s Unionist Council (UWUC) during the Ulster Crisis. When the UWUC was founded in 1911 dominant gender norms constituted the organization as an auxiliary of the male-dominated Ulster Unionist Council. However, within a year of its establishment the UWUC was the largest women’s political organization in Ireland. Yet the literature related to Ulster unionism and twentieth-century Irish politics and history has constituted the UWUC as a marginal Ulster unionist organization. This paper seeks to contribute to redressing this. It argues that the UWUC was not an “idle sightseer”, or passive observer, of the Ulster Crisis; rather it played a significant role during the Ulster Crisis and in constituting Ulster as a distinct and united polity.
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