The History of Northern Ireland

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The History of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has had a volatile and tortured history. In 1969

began the conflict, which today is known as "The Troubles", but

Northern Ireland's troubled history roots back to a much earlier

period of time.

The seeds of partition were really sown in the mid 19th century when

the notion of two separate nations took root in Ireland. The Young

Ireland movement of the 1840's promoted a new racial ideology

emphasising the Gaelic origins of Catholics. Protestants in Ulster

bought into the idea of being Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic and laid

claim to the virtues of thrift, hard work and respect for the law.

Towards the end of the 19th century the Gladstone government responded

to demands in southern Ireland for Home Rule. Unionists believed a

Home Rule parliament in Dublin run by Catholic farmers would be bad

for Protestant businesses and by 1886 began to lobby for the

predominantly Protestant northern counties. They believed Catholicism

was an oppressive, backward religion and feared that Home Rule would

result in Rome Rule. The House of Lords began to introduce Home Rule

Bills, one in 1886 and the other in 1893.

Asquith's Liberal government introduced the third Home Rule Bill in

1912. Dublin Unionist MP Edward Carson threatened armed resistance if

Ulster was governed from Dublin. Between 1912 and 1914 Unionists

signed the Solemn League and Covenant and formed the UVF, an armed

Protestant militia to fight against Home Rule. The spectre of civil

war hung over Ulster. The Bill was passed in parliament but suspended

for the duration of the Great War.

The possibility of Home Rule stemmed th...

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... first time in Stormont. This looked as though it could be the year

of peace but numerous obstacles such as decommissioning, prisoner

releases, continued violence and distrust still stood in the way.

On the 15th July 1999 the Northern Ireland power - sharing executive

should have been set up; instead the Ulster Unionists boycotted the


On the 1st December 2000 full power was transferred from Westminster

to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The next day the Republic of Ireland

abandoned its claim to the territory of Northern Ireland. This was a

historic moment.

The problems in Ireland still continue today, but the level of

violence has decreased by far. The republic of Ireland abandoning its

claim to Northern Ireland territory surely shows that we are now

slowly working towards a successful peace process.
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