English / Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

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Autor:  anton  20 May 2011
Tags:  Northern,  Ireland
Words: 2415   |   Pages: 10
Views: 329

Northern Ireland:

• A part of the United Kingdom

• Lies in the northeast of the Islands of Ireland

• The population of Northern Ireland was estimated as being 1,710,300 on 30 June 2004.

• Not considered a country.

• Very related to Great Britain in economic matters, because they provide most of the import and export.

• Northern Ireland is considered as a problem on the financial front on the British Isles, caused by an unstable economic situation.


• Between nationalists (Catholics) and unionist (Protestants)

• The nationalists wants Northern Ireland to be unified with the Republic of Ireland and unionists wants it to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

• Unionists are in the majority, nationalists are significant minority.

• The protestants consider themselves British and Catholics sees themselves as Irish.

Nationalists Unionists

Catholic Protestant

Unify Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland Remain a part of the united kingdom

Are a significant minority Are in the majority

Consider themselves as Irish Consider themselves as British

The troubles:

• Popular name used about the campaigns of violence between Catholics and Protestants.

• Many aspects are involved in the background history such as: Economics, politics and social conditions.

The history background:

In the very beginning it started with English adventurers colonising parts of Ireland. The colonising lead to that the whole of Ireland eventually was brought under English rule. Already in 1640 Oliver Cromwell decides to oppress the people he considers to be primitive and brutal; the Catholics. Therefore a number of laws are made to use against the Catholics. In 1800 a law called “The Act of Union” is passed. It decides that England and Ireland are to be united, and the Catholics get a limited freedom of expression.

The English did not stop at that. To make sure they had a strong rule in Ireland they encouraged Protestants from England and Scotland to settle in Ireland. The settlers of course, established themselves in the most fertile areas in Ireland. It did not take long for the English to reach their goal; for the Protestants to outnumber the Catholics.

Over the years to come the Catholics are to lose their land, their right to vote, and do not have the opportunity to take higher education or have professional jobs. Ireland, that used to be a country of its own, is now under the English empires total control. In 1828 a Catholic parliament member chosen by the people is denied to execute his position. But not long after, in 1929, the law is changed so that also Catholics can be members of the parliament.

In 1917 a party called Sinn Fein is formed by Irish Nationalists. They get much political power in large areas of Northern Ireland. They have their big breakthrough in 1918, but in 1919 the IRA makes their entrance. 14 cops are killed and 20 hurt by a group of Republicans who call themselves The Irish Republican Army (IRA). The first “Bloody Sunday” occurs in November when the IRA shoots 14 more of the governments men. As a consequence the party Sinn Fein is now forbidden by the British Government.

But of course, the Irish people do not surrender, even after many long and hard battles. And in 1921 their reward comes; they become independent from British rule. Ulster however, remains in union with Britain.

Now that the Irish were free from British rule, they also needed their own parliament. It was placed at Stormont, and it was meant to look after the interests of both Catholics and Protestants. But the Protestants still outnumbered the Catholics and therefore they controlled Stormont and the government. The Catholics feel undermined by the Protestants and starts a campaign. They can hardly get jobs, or proper housing. And they are also treated badly by the police, who were armed and of course consisted only by Protestants.

The hope that has been lying in the background through all this years is now starting to fade. The hope that eventually whole of Ireland could be united. The Protestants have accepted that they are a separate Northern state united with Britain. And things are starting to look better for the Catholics social condition. The people living in Northern Ireland are actually starting to believe that Protestants and Catholics can create a new and fairer Ireland together.

But look out, because here comes trouble. “The Troubles” shatter the hopes of a better future for both Protestants and Catholics. The marches by Catholics were started because they felt the progress for their civil rights were going to slow. They wanted equal rights. The protests were meant to be peaceful, but ended in violence and bloodshed.

By 1969 the fights between Protestants and Catholics was out of control. The British government decided to send in their own troops to restore order. While the troops were meant to stay there only for a short period of time, they stayed for almost thirty years. The British did not think that the parliament of Stormont could control Northern Ireland it self. The IRA and the Protestant Paramilitaries were back on the streets and the situation reached a crisis point. The British decided to suspend Stormont in 1972. While they thought it would help to bring Northern Ireland under total British control again, the opposite happened.

Instead of bringing the situation under control, like it was suppose to do, it nearly added fuel to the fire. The IRA now started to plant bombs both in Ulster and on the British mainland that killed and injured many innocent. The Protestants on the other hand started to seek out and kill Catholics. The climax of the horrible situation occurred on the last Sunday of January 1972. The British were loosing control, and while the Catholics were having a demonstration for civil rights protest in Derry, the British troops fired and killed thirteen Catholics. The tragedy is forever to be remembered as “Bloody Sunday”.

Aspects involved

Many aspects are involved in the conflict between the Catholic Nationalists and the Protestant Unionists. Not only religious views, but also financial. Most Protestants are descendants of British settlers and they have had a much stronger economic situation ever since they first came to Ireland. Their economic advantage has also made the conflict a social matter, with the politics strongly in the background.

The peace process

For more than 25 years the conflict in Northern Ireland was stuck. Attempts to resolve it in any way was crushed by bombings or murders. The first years of the 1980’s was marked by hunger strikes among IRA prisoners and bombing campaigns on the British mainland. The Irish party, Sinn Fein, began to participate in elections. These actions forced the British government to sign an Anglo-Irish agreement with the Irish government in Dublin. The law stated that if the majority of Ireland wanted to have a united Ireland, laws would be passed to fulfil their wish.

Unfortunately, the minor peace that followed the agreement did not last long. Bombings and terrorist actions were still a part of the daily order, for many years to come. “The Troubles” seemed to be everlasting. In 1998 a breakthrough came for the people of Northern Ireland. All the parties sat down and tried to find a peaceful agreement. Easter, 1998, a peace agreement called “Good Friday Agreement” was established and signed. It was going to take Northern Ireland in to a new era. The agreement proposed devolution of central government power, like finance, education, health –and social services, economic development etc to a Northern Irish Assembly. De agreement was welcomed by the majority of the Northern Irish people, about 71 percent in a Northern Irish referendum.

Could this finally bring an end to The Troubles?

The answer is unfortunately no. The conflict did not resolve and the problems kept coming. To begin with an unstable government that was time after time suspended by British Authorities. On of the biggest problems was that they could not manage the IRA in the terms of disarming them. Local disputes were a big problem, especially because it affected children at schools. A group that called themselves the “Real IRA” was responsible for bomb attacks in London. In 2005 the disarming of the IRA was finally a success, and the Irish people could do nothing but hope that the 36 years long conflict that had claimed 3600 lives could stop.

Politicians involved in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Margaret Thatcher, the first and to this days date the only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland. Maybe not in a good way, but she was involved. Among other things she continued the policy of “Ulsterisation”, that meant that members of the British army should be disengaged in the battles, and be replaced with locally recruited soldiers. The reason being that the killings of British soldiers was greater than that on local security force members.

Also Bill Clinton, earlier President of The United States of America, has played his part in bringing Northern Ireland back to peace again. He has urged the parties to come to peace agreements, and maid many visits to Northern Ireland.

Last but not least the current Prime Minister of The United Kingdom deserves his share of honour after his help negotiating with the Good Friday Agreement from 1998.

Consequences of the conflict for the British Isles

Because of the IRA a series of bombs exploded in other parts of the British Isles. These bombs injured and killed many innocent British people. In episodes such as the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and the Maguire Seven innocent people were accused, tortured and sentenced simply because of their background. The police had a lot of pressure on them to find those responsible for the bombings, the people of the United Kingdom demanded that those guilty were found and punished. Later it has been proved by evidence that all of the people sentenced in these three cases are innocent. They spent a long time in prison, for something they did not do. All of them, claiming to be wrongfully treated, but not heard.

These three cases represent a disaster in the United Kingdoms court of law. Were the police used horrible techniques to make people admit to things they had never done. They also withheld important evidence that could have proven that they had charged the wrong men. It was simply a scandal in the police force and in the court of law, driven mostly by pride and panic. The police had to blame someone, or else they did not do their job properly.

The conflict in Northern Ireland lead to the IRA’s bombing in Britain, which lead to the killing of innocent people. Because of the killings and the pressure laid on the police force, many people were wrongfully accused and this lead to a scandal in the police force and the court of law.

In the name of the father

The movie “In the Name of the Father” that is based on the book “Proved Innocent” by Gerry Conlon gives an extraordinary view of the situation the innocent people in the Guildford Four case was in. In this case the IRA bombs a pub in Guildford, England and kills five people. The police who are under a lot of pressure from the public, arrests the people they thing most likely were a part of the bombing. Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill, two squatters are arrested. When Gerry’s father Giuseppe arrives to London to help his son, he and many members of his family are charged with participating in an IRA support network.

Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill are tortured by the police until they confess to the crime they never committed. They both get sentenced to life in prison while Giuseppe is given fourteen years after a trial with little evidence and many speeches from the police officers leading the case.

After fifteen years in prison they are released when evidence proving that they are innocent is found after help from lawyer Gareth Pierce. The evidence has then been held a secret by the police through all the years the Guildford Four has been locked up in prison.

The movie has many themes. Not only is the relationship between father and son an important factor, but it also a story about victims and battles. It is about how the IRA does not care who and how many are hurt by their actions. And about how it does not matter to the police who is convicted, as long as it looks like their doing a good job on the outside.

Consequences of the conflict for Northern Ireland

Because of the conflict Northern Ireland has had significant economic problems. They have had little investment, high employment and social disturbances. It has been a big problem to attract tourists to the country because of the conflict. Some American business men have invested large amounts in companies that can provide work in those areas that are most affected by poverty, like Belfast and Derry. In these areas unemployment rate has been up to 80 percent. The industry is fading, despite the British governments attempts to make it rise.

The conflict has also been a reason why Northern Ireland has not been able to keep its own self-government. Northern Ireland has for a long time been ruled directly from Britain.

Northern Ireland today

The conflict is not yet resolved, but it is getting better. Tourism is picking up because of Northern Irelands improved reputation, and that plays a big role in the local economy. The job market is also improving. Many big multi-national corporations are investing in the industry in Northern Ireland. A highly skilled work force and government subsidies attracts them.

But however, there are downsides. The society in Northern Ireland today is still divided. Protestants and Catholics live in separate neighbourhoods and the children go to separate schools. Some military groups are still active, but fortunately, they have very little power now compared to earlier.

Many people still hope that one day, the Protestants and the Catholics will live together in peace, and attempts have already been made by the establishment of some common schools. But the conflict has lasted for a long time, and it has of course left traces that will be difficult to erase.

Recently, on May 8th 2007 Northern Ireland got its own self-government. With the Protestant Ian Paisley as leader of the new government and Martin Guinness from the Republican Party Sinn Fein as second command it still remains to se if this new government can make it. The Government is looked up on with scepticism by many.

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