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The core of the Irish problem since 1886 was the Ulster issue. Both British and Irish political parties had vested interests in denying this reality until the advent of coalition government in the Great War. Lloyd George had always supported excluding Unionist Ulster from Dublin’s domination but postponed addressing the Irish problem until 1919. By then the 1918 election had led to Sinn Féin’s displacing the Home Rule Party and had also made Lloyd George dependent on the Conservatives. His response was the Government of Ireland Act 1920 which gave the Ulster Unionists what they wanted: a monopoly of government in what became Northern Ireland.
Ronan Fanning is Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University College Dublin, and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. His other books include a definitive history of the Irish Department of Finance and a biography (co-written with Michael Lillis) of Eliza Lynch, lover of the 19th century Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano López, which has just been made into a drama-documentary for television. He is also an editor of Dictionary of Irish Biography and of the multi-volume series Documents on Irish Foreign Policy.