This article draws on the recent academic literature on territoriality and power to analyse territorial strategies for the maintenance of public order in the north of Ireland. It argues that these strategies were shaped decisively by the distinctive relationship between the informal internal ethnonational boundaries that were a central focus of Frank Wright's work and the external boundary of the Northern Ireland state. As a consequence, the 'internal' issue of policing was immediately and inextricably bound up with the outer boundary of the state, even at the level of everyday policing practices. It traces the way in which the state in Northern Ireland adopted particular territorial strategies to secure the external border and adapt to internal territorial unevenness from the outset. It argues that order was necessarily maintained through a limited recognition of the distinctive ethnonational character of particular areas within the state, and by distinctive territorial strategies for the maintenance of order in such areas. Internal unevenness in sovereign control strictly limited the possibilities for internal territorial homogenisation and hindered the related naturalisation of the external boundary and the state itself.