Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Repeating old canard about Terence O'Neill

IN his article on Terence O'Neill (DebateNI, November 4), Marc Mulholland repeats the old canard that the former prime minister's "last act was to deny the leadership to his old rival [Brian] Faulkner".

Faulkner himself believed that O'Neill had engineered the succession of his very distant cousin, James Chichester-Clark, but he did so without good reason – as I made clear in my entry on the late Lord Moyola for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

In fact, the two men were not close; O'Neill was on better terms with his future successor's younger brother, Robin Chichester-Clark, then Westminster MP for Londonderry, but he fell out with him when Robin Chichester-Clark declined to persuade his brother not to resign from the cabinet in the spring of 1969.

It is even more odd that Dr Mulholland claims that it was O'Neill who forced through local government franchise reform.

Dr Mulholland may not know that it was the Chichester-Clark brothers who drew up a list of reforms in the autumn of 1968, but even he should be aware those reforms were not implemented until after James Chichester-Clark became prime minister.

CDC ARMSTRONG

Belfast

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