Ulster Says No

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Ulster Says No was the name and slogan of a unionist mass protest campaign against the provisions of the Anglo-Irish Agreement which gave the government of the Republic of Ireland an advisory role in Northern Ireland's government.

For British unionists (those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom), this was seen as foreign interference in the internal affairs of the UK. For Irish nationalists, those provisions were seen as a start at fixing the democratic problem of lack of political representation of the large minority of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Says No campaign was led by Unionist leader Ian Paisley in the mid 1980s.[1]

After the signing of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, Unionist leaders stated that the agreement to allow the Republic's government such privileges needed to be put before the people in a referendum and organised a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly to that effect.[2] Republican party Sinn Féin also objected (albeit for different reasons).[3] In the Irish Parliament, the main opposition party, Fianna Fáil also voted against.[2]

A large rally protested the move at Belfast City Hall. The numbers attending were estimated to be at least 100,000[2] while Unionist sources estimated over 200,000 in attendance.[4] Paisley and all the other Unionist MPs resigned from the British House of Commons in protest, but all except Jim Nicholson were subsequently re-elected in the resultant by-elections.