Northern Ireland Catholics Vs. The Protestants

Northern Ireland Catholics Vs. The Protestants

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The true causes of unrest are sometimes difficult to determine. Frequently, there are a mixture of political alliances, economic differences, ethnic feuds, religious differences and others: This paper looks at the unrest between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, "the troubles" are partly rooted in Catholic/Protestant differences, partly in political allegiances, and probably partly in hatreds that go back so far that the exact reason is lost in the mists of time.
Let's take a minute to look at the history of Ireland. Saint Patrick (c.389-461), the patron of Ireland, came from England to Ireland to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. At the time, the only Christian religion was Catholicism. He came to educate the people and succeeded beyond any rational expectation, as Ireland eventually became almost exclusively Christian, as well as a center of scholarship and culture. Even when the Protestant Reformation swept through Europe and England in the 16th Century, Ireland remained staunchly Catholic, thereby triggering the Catholic versus Protestant conflict that plagues Northern Ireland today.
The five monarchs of the 118 year Tudor Dynasty in England (1486-1603) particularly Henry VIII (r.1509-47) and his daughter Elizabeth I (r.1558-1603) -- had an enormous impact on Ireland and its people. In addition to imposing Poynings Law on Ireland, they ousted the Catholic Church and replaced it with a Protestant Church, thereby sowing the seeds for centuries of religious conflict in Ireland. They extinguished the "Kildare Supremacy" and established the principle that the King of England automatically became King of Ireland. They partially destroyed Irish culture through an "anglicization" program that imposed England's language, laws, culture and religion on Ireland; and they "re-conquered" Ireland by defeating the Gaelic lords at Kinsale, thereby extinguishing the old Gaelic order and paving the way for plantations and eventually for "union" with England.
The Battle of Kinsale, along with the "Flight of the Earls", marked the end of the old Gaelic order, and established England as conqueror of Ireland. What followed next -- the 17th Century "Plantations" -- were perhaps the most important development in Irish history since arrival of the Celts. They divided Ireland apartheid-like into two hostile camps.
Under these Plantations, the Ulster Plantation (1609), the Cromwellian Plantation (1652) and the Williamite Plantation (1693), 81% of the productive land in Ireland was confiscated from the native Irish (Gaelic-Irish and Norman-Irish alike, but invariably Catholic), and transferred to new immigrants (invariably Protestant) from Scotland and England.

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The Plantations impacted Ireland in two major ways. First, they introduced into Ireland a new community, eventually 25% of the populace, which differed radically from the natives not only in religion, but also in culture, ethnicity, and national identity. Second, in Ireland's overwhelmingly agrarian economy where land equaled wealth and power (and vice versa) the Plantations caused a massive transfer of wealth and power to non-native landlords, whose backbreaking rents then thrust 85% of the natives into crushing poverty and degradation. The Plantations are the root cause of the class warfare (rich landlord versus poor tenant) and religious/cultural clashes that have plagued Ireland since 1610.
Plantations were the medieval equivalent of "ethnic cleansing" in that -- in theory at least -- all occupants of confiscated land were to be evicted and resettled in Connacht where they would be less of a military threat. Anti-Catholic animus played a role in the Plantations, but other motivations were more important. For the new immigrants, the principal motivation was fertile land at bargain rents. For the Crown, Plantations would deprive dissident Irish lords of the land that was their only real source of power; and further, there would be established within Ireland a loyal non-Irish minority which would served as an unpaid police force to keep dissident Irish in check. Halfhearted attempts at plantation had been made under Mary in the 1550s, and under Elizabeth in the 1580s, but neither had instilled the pro-English mind set sought by the Crown. But after the "flight of the earls", the time seemed right for a serious plantation program.
Although nominally directed at the aristocracy, the Plantations also devastated peasants, who suffered the loss of their property rights under the ancient Gaelic law of gravelkind, which previously had virtually guaranteed them a decent, living from the soil. It turned out that peasants were needed for hard labor, so many of them, despite the original "resettlement in Connacht" plan, were allowed to remain as farm laborers or tenant-farmers, but at low wages or backbreaking rents that thrust them into abject poverty. Predictably, both in resentful peasants and in their Gaelic lords, there developed a 285 year obsession, sometimes violent, sometimes political -- to overturn or modify the confiscations via "land reform", a term which (depending on time and place) might mean anything from a complete reversal of the confiscations to a modest improvement in tenants' rights.
"Catholic versus Protestant" has been the convenient shorthand to describe divisions within Ireland, but this is overly simplistic. The important dividing line was between a conquering people (who happened to be British, English speaking and Protestant) and a vanquished people (who happened to be Irish, Gaelic speaking and Catholic). The conquerors then confiscated the land and wealth of Ireland, thus creating the class warfare, which has long plagued Ireland: rich landlord versus poverty stricken tenant. No one would deny that religion, ethnicity, language and culture were and still are important components in the mutual antagonism, particularly in segregating an individual into one of the two camps, but the sheer longevity of these hostilities is attributable to enduring disparities in power and wealth.
As indicate in the first paragraph and through this paper, I believe that perceptions and culture played a role in the ongoing unrest in Northern Ireland. Our perceptions of the universe represent our individual subjective reality.and culture strongly influence our subjective reality. Also, our behaviors are based on our perceptions. So how we react to our perceptions is a result of our learning and cultural conditioning. Another part of this is the beliefs, attitudes and values of a culture.
After reading the information, I believe the unrest in Northern Ireland has a long history and came to be due to the beliefs, attitudes and values of the cultures. I believe politics and the invasion played significantly into the culture and the attitudes of the people. I believe that ethnocentricity, the fact that the different cultures put their own culture and society as the top priority and having the most worth contributed as well.
If we look at Religion itself, the fact that a cultures beliefs about religion have caused conflicts throughout the ages and still does today that it is not hard to understand why the conflicts still exist in Northern Ireland today.
Is there a chance that this can be resolved? I don't believe so until the Catholics and Protestants learn to communicate with each other and accept that they are not like each other.

1. Communication Between Cultures, Authors Larry A. Samovar and Richard . Porter, 1991
2. "Humans and (in)Humanity" see:
3. "Religious" see:
4. "Desmond's Concise History of Ireland" see.
5. "Ireland in Brief" see:
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