The Columba Press
A huge number of books have been written about the Northern Ireland troubles. There are far fewer covering the first half century of the northern state's existence.
Of those few, Enda Staunton's study of the political history of northern nationalists is among the most important.
Staunton begins with the 1918 election in which Sinn Fein swept the board throughout Ireland including much of the North. In the Belfast constituency of the Falls, however, Eamonn De Valera was to be defeated by Home Ruler Joe Devlin.
This event underlined the internal differences within nationalism, both between North and South, and within the North Itself.
Devlin would later describe the creation of a separate northern Parliament as 'the greatest and last of all calamities.'
Staunton's book is above all a detailed account of how the various strains of northern nationalism, constitutional, republican and labour, tried to cope with that calamity.
Staunton notes that few northern nationalists took the republican side during the Irish Civil War, an ironic fact given that the most hardline remnants of the anti-treaty side would provide the political antecedents of the Provisional IRA.
He follows the vicissitudes of northern nationalism through Michael Collins' northern initiative, the Boundary Commission, the Second World War, the Anti-Partition League, the Border Campaign, the Civil Rights Movement and the onset of the Troubles. An epilogue takes the story up to the peace process.
It is a story that makes for grim but valuable reading. Stauntion takes issue with many of the arguments used to justify the neglect of northern nationalists by Dublin in particular.
In terms reminiscent of Eamonn McCann, he argues that a genuine sense of inequality, rather than republican ideology was always the driving force within northern nationalism, and it is this reality that made the peace process possible.