Censorship and propaganda in Northern Ireland during the Second World War

  • Conor Campbell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines propaganda and censorship in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. Press control is an underexplored route through which to investigate Ulster unionism in the mid-twentieth century, as most media studies of Northern Ireland focus on the period of the troubles or inter-war period. This thesis seeks to redress this gap, and to provide a novel route through which to understand and analyse the behaviour of the Unionist government and nature of unionist political culture during the war. This research is based primarily on governmental records and focusses on printed propaganda and newspapers. It demonstrates that the Northern Irish government developed and professionalised their publicity machinery in the period leading up to and during the conflict. This publicity machinery has been largely neglected in histories of Northern Ireland, and this thesis explores its creation as well as how it operated. It highlights how the government’s publicity machinery, originally designed to enhance the trade prospects of Northern Ireland, was gradually altered to reinforce the province’s constitutional position and to positively promote its industrial,
agricultural, and military output in the United Kingdom and further abroad. This research also demonstrates the nature of the Unionist government’s relationship with the British government in regards to the operation of devolution and the introduction of British administrative bodies into Northern Ireland. It challenges the perception that Ulster unionists were inarticulate in this period, while also highlighting the severity of their local censorship legislation and arguing that the government discriminated against local minorities in its application. The extent of Unionist self-belief in the righteousness of their cause is explored, as is the nature of the Northern Irish government’s relationship with external figures who propagandised on their behalf or with their encouragement. This research also offers broader insights into unionist culture, the nature of devolution, and the functioning of Northern Irish democracy
under the Stormont regime in the mid-twentieth century.
Date of AwardJul 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership
SupervisorFearghal McGarry (Supervisor), Keith Jeffery (Supervisor), Marie Coleman (Supervisor) & Manu Braganca (Supervisor)

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