Faulkner, Brian

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Faulkner, Brian

Brian Faulkner (fôk´nər), 1921–77, Northern Irish politician. A Protestant businessman, he was elected to the Northern Ireland Parliament as a Unionist in 1949. As minister of home affairs (1959–63) he became known as a hard-liner in his efforts to end Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorism. He served as commerce minister (1963–69) and minister of development (1969–71), winning passage of reforms to end discrimination against Roman Catholics. Increasingly identified as a moderate, he succeeded Chichester-Clarke as prime minister in Mar., 1971. By then the British army, sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 to act as a buffer between Protestants and Catholics, had alienated many Catholics and was increasingly attacked by the IRA. In Aug., 1971, Faulkner began interning suspected IRA members; this and the "Derry massacre" of Jan., 1972, when British troops fired on an illegal Catholic demonstration in Londonderry (now Derry), killing 13, increased the political polarization. In Mar., 1972, the British cabinet suspended the Northern Ireland government, and Faulkner and his ministry resigned. He cooperated in the establishment (1973) of a new provincial legislature and executive board and became head of the board—a coalition of Protestants and Catholics—in Jan., 1974. When a Protestant general strike crippled the province in May, Faulkner resigned and the government collapsed, resulting in the reimposition of direct British rule. In Sept., 1974, he organized the Protestant Unionist party, heading it until Aug., 1976. He was created Baron Faulkner of Downpatrick in 1976.

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