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Politics, International Studies & Philosophy: Primary Sources Focus: Northern Ireland 1921-1972

The Stormont Papers

Stormont papers in printThe Parliament of Northern Ireland was created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972. It was abolished under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

The Parliament was bicameral, consisting of a House of Commons with 52 seats, and a Senate with 26 seats.

The Hansard debates of both Commons and Senate were until recently available to search online via The Stormont Papers. This service is currently suspended.

Alongside the online access to Cabinet papers available to staff and students of Queen's (see below), the best way to access this content is by using the print collection

The Library at Queen's holds an extensive collection of Stormont papers. These are shelved in the Official Publications section on Floor 2 of the McClay Library. To browse, look for the bays at classification JZN4 - 

See below for some collection highlights - click on each title for location details.

Online resource : Northern Ireland: A Divided Community, 1921-1972 Cabinet Papers of the Stormont Administration

undefinedThe papers contained in Northern Ireland: A Divided Community, 1921-1972 are a complete digital facsimile of the Cabinet Conclusion files of the Northern Ireland Government, filed as CAB/4 at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

The Northern Ireland Cabinet was at the centre of the decision-making process and discussion of policy matters throughout the period of devolved administration from 1921-1972. It met fortnightly to discuss issues of security, finance or economics, and political matters regarding its relations with the British and Irish governments. The Cabinet conclusions and other memoranda, filed as CAB/4 at PRONI, provide an insight into the very heart of government and civil service activities. Their importance explains why the archive is the most frequently consulted of all the official records held at PRONI.

Click here for access.

Debates (Hansard)

undefined House of Commons and Senate Debates: The Hansard debates are the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both Houses and are as such an official record of debates in both houses. Find out more about Hansard here.

Although no general index exists, each session was indexed. These sessional indexes are bound at the back of each volume and include the content of all material recorded in Hansard, including debates, procedural motions and questions, and the names of all Members contributing to the Parliamentary business recorded in Hansard.

 

Search tips:

As there is no general index for the debates, the most efficient way to search these debates is to break your search down and focus on particular years / parliamentary sessions.  

Consult your secondary readings to build a background picture of the issue you are researching then consider:

  1. What are you looking for in the papers. What are the terms by which this would have been reported in parliament?
  2. When would this have been debated? What other key dates do you have in mind?
  3. Who was involved in this particular issue?  

Search indexes a the end of each session  by keyword, department or MP.

It is also well worth checking lists of Questions indexed. 

 

Browsing:

  • Senate Debates 1921-1972 are shelved at JZN4
  • House of Commons Debates 1921-1972 are shelved at JZN5

Census statistics: Registrar General Annual Reports

Prior to 1st January 1922, the Acts relating to Births, Deaths and Marriages, in Ireland were administered by the Registrar-General, Dublin, who annually submitted a report to Parliament.​

The transfer to the Government of Northern Ireland of the functions formerly exercised by the Registrar General, Dublin, was effected on 1st January 1922 by Order in Council dated 9th November 1921.​

Copies of the All Ireland annual reports from 1887 to 1921, and all the Annual Reports of the Registrar General Northern Ireland produced since 1922 are available online via the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

All census reports in Northern Ireland were presented to the Northern Ireland parliament as Command Papers. There was no census taken in 1921 in the new Northern Ireland state. Census were taken on: 1926, 1937 [none taken during war in 1946/7], 1951, 1961, 1971.

 

Browsing:

  • Print copies of the Registrar General Annual reports (1922-1956) are shelved at JZN 50.5 .A6
  • Command Papers 1-583 (1922-1974 - incomplete) are shelved at  JZN​17

Belfast Gazette

The Belfast Gazette is a periodical government publication that has been authorised to publish public or legal notices. It is usually established by statute or official action and publication of notices within it, whether by the government or a private party, is usually considered sufficient to comply with legal requirements for public notice​.

 

Browsing: 

  • The Belfast Gazette 1921 - 2012 (1921-1970 labelled at 1-50)  is shelved at qJZN1

Accessing the Stormont Papers in print

Rolling stacks in the McClay LibraryBound volumes of this print collection are available to consult from the Official Publications section on Floor 2 of the McClay Library.

This collection is shelved on rolling stacks to ensure accessibility. If you have any issues with moving these stacks please ask a member of staff to help.

These items are catalogued at title level only and there is no general index to content. See the information on this page for some tips on how to make best use of this collection.

 

If you would like further help using the Stormont Papers in print, or any other primary sources we hold at Queen's, please contact your subject librarian, Deborah Sherlock

Working documentation: Command Papers and House of Commons Papers

House of Commons Papers: These are the papers which result from the work of the House and its Committees or are otherwise necessary for its work. They include select committee papers,minutes of proceedings of public bill committees, estimates and appropriation accounts. Find out more about House of Commons Papers here.

House of Commons Papers are bound in numerical order and bound volumes are labelled as such. To find a particular paper you need the House of Commons reference number. This will be prefixed by H.C., eg H.C.1747.

Command Papers : Command Papers are a useful primary source as this category of publication includes a variety of content such as Government proposals for legislation (White papers) and related policy statements, and some annual reviews, Government consultation documents (Green papers), reports of some major Committees of Inquiry, and other Commissions and non-Parliamentary bodies, annual reports and statistics. Find out more about Command Papers here.

Command Papers are bound in numerical order and bound volumes are labelled as such, so to find a particular paper you need the Command Paper reference number. This will be prefixed by Cmd. eg Cmd. 499

 

Browsing:

  • House of Commons Papers from 1-2201 (1921-1972) are shelved at JZN15​ 
  • Command Papers 1-583 (1922-1974 - incomplete) are shelved at  JZN​17

 

Index

An index of papers produced by the Northern Ireland Parliament is available here. This indexes Senate, Commons and Command papers 1921-1972.

House of Commons Journals

Northern Ireland House of Commons JournalsThe Senate and Commons Journals are a record of daily proceedings compiled at the end of each parliamentary session by clerks.

The journals record the business of the houses such as the progress of legislation and papers received. They are not a record of speeches and debates.

There is a General Index for 1941 and an index at the end of each Session. 

 

Browsing:

  • Senate Journals 1921-1972 ​are shelved at JZN8
  • Commons Journals 1942-1972  are shelved at JZN10

Further reading

Buckland, Patrick. “Who governed Northern Ireland? The royal assent and the Local Government Bill, 1922.” Irish Jurist ns 15 (1980): 326-340.

CAIN: Northern Ireland Conflict, Politics, and Society

Dyas, Eamon. Federalism, Northern Ireland, and the 1920 Government of Ireland Act. Belfast: Institute for Representative Government, 1988.

Greer, Alan. “Sir James Craig and the construction of Parliament Buildings at Stormont.” Irish Historical Studies 31 (1999): 373-88.

Maltby, Arthur, The Government of Northern Ireland, 1922-72 : a catalogue and breviate of parliamentary papers. (irish University Press, 1974)

Moody, Theodore William, 1907-1984, Martin, Francis Xavier, 1922-2000 and Byrne, Francis John, 1934-. New history of Ireland, 9 : A companion to Irish history. Part 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Walker, Graham S.. “The Northern Ireland Parliament and Assembly at Stormont.” In A short history of parliament : England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scotland, Edited by Jones, Clyve, 1944-., 339-51. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2009.