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The Northern-Irish conflict
Kort om konflikten i Nord-Irland.
The Northern-Irish conflict dates back to not only one, but probably several historical incidents.
In 1170, Henry 2 of England attemted to attatch Ireland to his kingdom. He did not succeed, but established control in a small area outside Dublin. For the remaining Irish clans, England now became their major enemy and threat, against their customs and way of life.
By the end of Queen Elisabeth’s reign, military conquests had established control in most parts of Ireland, with the exception of the northern province of Ulster. The Ulster clans had succeeded in creating an effective alliance against Queen Elisabeth’s armies, but was eventually defeated and brought under English rule. English colonists settled in these areas and by 1703 less then 5 per cent of the land of Ulster belonged to Catholics Irish. The native people of Ulster remained in the conquered areas, but were gradually expelled from the land that they used to own. The result of the settling of Ulster was the introduction of a foreign community, which spoke a different language, represented another culture and way of life. In addition, most of the newcomers were Protestants, while the native Irish were Catholic. This probably added a new dimension to the conflict.
The next two centuries, differences between protestants and catholics increased. The Irish monarchy, parliament and government based in Dublin, enforced several new laws against Catholics. In 1801, in an attempt to increase the direct control of Ireland, the irish government were abolished and it’s responsibilities taken over by England. During the 19th century several movements tried overthrowing the new government. Some using leagal measures, and some using physical force to achieve their goal.
During easter week an armed rising attempted to overthrow the government, but failed. Their leaders were killed, creating sympathy for the IRA and Sinn Fein, it’s political wing. In the 1918 election, Sinn Fein replaced the old irish parliamentery parties, and established it’s own Irish parliament. The following War of Independence between Britain and the IRA was eventually ended by a treaty signed in 1920. The treaty also confirmed the northern counties of Uslter as protestant land. Now, roughly speaking, the catholics lived in the southern parts of the country and the protestants in the northern.
By the 1950s there were growing signs that some Catholics were prepared to accept equality within Northern Ireland. This, despite of the unfair treatment they had received from the protestants during the last decades. In 1967 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was formed to state the catholic’s demands. The campaign copied the civil rights campaign in the United States, involving protests, marches and sit-ins. The government was unable to handle the growing civil disorder, and in 1969 the British government sent in troops to restore order. As a protest IRA began a campaign of violence against the army. By 1972 it was clear that the local Northern Irish government was unable to handle the situation and the Westminster parliament suspended the Northern Ireland government and replaced it with direct rule from Westminster. This situation continued into the 1990s. The violence reached a peak in 1972, when 468 people died. Since then it has gradually declined to an annual average of below 100.
Despite taking steps towards peace, the situation in Belfast have worsened since the IRA ceasefire in 1994, according to Northern Ireland academic, Peter Shirlow.
Nationalist: Wants a united Ireland. Most people living in catholic areas are nationalists. Not all Nationalists supports Republicans.
Republicans: Suppports violent groups fighting for a united Ireland
Unionists: Wants Ireland to be a part of Great Britain. Not all unionists support Loyalists.
Loyalists: Supports violent groups fighting to preserve Ireland as a part of Great Britain.
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