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Terence O'Neill 1963-69


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    Explain the reasons for the downfall of Terence O'Neill.

    Teacher's notes: This question is worth 6 marks in the exam. Give yourself 7 - 8 minutes to answer it.

    Mark Scheme: In History you are marked by levels. The higher the level the more marks you get and so the higher grade you will achieve.

    Level 1 Answer: The answer will be general providing some information related to the question but it will not adequately explain the reasons for O'Neill's resignation.

    Level 2 Answer: The answer will discuss some of the reasons for the downfall of O'Neill but lack sufficient depth.

    Level 3 Answer: The answer will show that the candidate is aware that O'Neill had lost the support of both nationalists and unionists and it will clearly outline the reasons for this.

    Answer 1

    Paul's answer

    Terence O'Neill was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1963 to 1969. He led the Unionist Party during these years. He brought in many reforms which did not really satisfy nationalists who wanted major changes. There were protest marches and street violence during the years 1968 and 1969 and as a result O'Neill resigned in April 1969.

    Comment: Level 1 Answer

    Paul would get a level 1 for this answer. The candidate's answer is too general. Some reasons for O'Neill's downfall have been included but these needed to be explained more fully.

    Answer 2

    Glenn's answer

    Terence O'Neill was forced to resign in 1969. He had lost the support of nationalists and unionists over his government's handling of the Civil Rights Movement and the protest marches which they had organised. Although O'Neill had brought in a Five-Point Reform programme and had sought to improve relations with the Republic of Ireland, nationalists felt his reforms did not go far enough. Following some bomb explosions in 1969 he resigned.

    Comment: Level 2 Answer

    Glenn would get a level 2 for this answer. The candidate has provided an answer of reasonable quality but it lacks balance. It provides some reasons to explain why nationalists were unhappy with O'Neill's leadership but fails to explain why many unionists were also dissatisfied.

    Answer 3

    Nuala's answer

    Terence O'Neill resigned in April 1969 having lost the support of many nationalists and unionists. As early as 1965 Dr. Ian Paisley, following O'Neill's meetings with the Irish Taoiseach Sean Lemass, had started an "O'Neill Must Go" campaign. Many unionists had become increasingly unhappy with O'Neill's reforms which they saw as concessions to nationalists and they felt he was taking N. Ireland closer to a United Ireland. He had major critics, Faulkner, Craig and Chichester-Clark within his own Party, who disagreed with him over his reforms and resigned from his government.

    O'Neill was also heavily criticized by nationalists for his reluctance to bring in reforms such as "One Man, One Vote" and for his Government's handling of the civil rights marches in October 1968 and January 1969 when marchers had been attacked.

    His growing unpopularity was clearly revealed by the limited support shown for pro-O'Neill candidates in the February election of 1969. Following some UVF explosions at water pumping stations in the spring of 1969, O'Neill decided to resign.

    Comment: Level 3 Answer

    Nuala would get a level 3 for this answer. The candidate has produced a high quality response. It clearly outlines how O'Neill had alienated many nationalists and unionists and reveals that the campaign to oust him had started as early as 1965. It also explains how the lack of support for O'Neill had become very evident in the early months of 1969.


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