Explain the nationalist and unionist response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement
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 reaction to the Agreement.
Level 2 Answer: The answer will discuss how the Agreement was viewed but will concentrate on either the unionist reaction or the nationalist reaction but not both.
Level 3 Answer: The answer will reflect fully on the varied reactions of both nationalists and unionists to the Anglo Irish Agreement.
In November 1985 an agreement was signed by Margaret Thatcher the British Prime Minister and the Irish Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald which has become known as the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It was officially lodged with the United Nations and it recognised the right of the Irish Republic to have a say in the affairs of N. Ireland. Unionists were very opposed to the Agreement and nationalists supported it.
Comment: Level 1 Answer
John would get a level 1 for this answer. Much of his answer is mere description. There is no need to include narrative. The candidate needs to get straight to the point of the question - how did nationalists and unionists view the Agreement and how did they react to it. The candidate merely refers to these points in his concluding sentence.
The Anglo Irish Agreement signed in November 1985 was heavily criticized by many unionists. They felt the British government had betrayed them by allowing the government of the Irish Republic to have a say in N. Ireland affairs. Unionists were not reassured by promises that N. Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom as long as the majority of the population desired it. They believed that Mrs Thatcher had given in to Provisional IRA violence and they felt that a United Ireland would soon be established. As a result they organised a number of demonstrations to protest against the Agreement.
Comment: Level 2 Answer
Mary would get a level 2 for this answer. The candidate has produced a reasonable answer. All of her answer is relevant to the question but it lacks balance. She comments well on unionist reaction to the Agreement but ignores completely the nationalist response.
Unionists and nationalists reacted very differently to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Unionists had not been informed in advance of the Agreement and were surprised and greatly angered by it. They strongly objected to giving the Republic of Ireland any say in the affairs of N. Ireland and believed that by doing so Margaret Thatcher was making concessions to Provisional IRA violence. Unionists organised an "Ulster Says No" campaign which involved numerous street demonstrations. All 15 unionist MPs at Westminster resigned their seats in protest. The Alliance Party was the only pro-union party to give its support to the Agreement
The Nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party welcomed the Agreement. They argued that the interests of nationalists in the north of Ireland would now be protected. The Workers' Party also expressed some support but Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA were very hostile to an Agreement which they believed guaranteed partition, for the Republic's government had officially recognised for the first time the state of Northern Ireland. Attitudes to the Agreement were divided in the South of Ireland. The Agreement was approved by the Dail by 88 votes to 75 but it was opposed by the Fianna Fail party and by leading political figures such as Mary Robinson, later president of Ireland.
Comment: Level 3 Answer
William would get a level 3 for this answer. The candidate has produced a high quality answer. He is aware of how controversial the Agreement was and deals fully with the varied responses of nationalists and unionists.