religion :: hate is a global issue
|Northern Ireland moves toward a lasting peace|
by Matt Moody
Northern Ireland moves toward a lasting peace
On Oct. 28, a statement from the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister’s office announced the “full and final closure” of the Northern Ireland conflict in response to an Irish Republican Army, or IRA statement which confirmed their “commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means” of protest.
This peace comes after hundreds of years of conflict between Irish and Catholics, which intensified from 1969 to 1998 in a violent period known as “the Troubles.” Frequent bombings, shootings, riots and other violent acts that claimed the lives of more than 3,500 people makred the period..
By the end of the 17th century, England controlled all of Ireland except the northern province of Ulster.
Under Queen Elizabeth’s rule, England defeated the resistance in Ulster and proceeded to transplant a Protestant society on top of a Catholic Irish society, at first greatly restricting the Catholics’ freedom. By the early 1900s, there had been many uprisings and in 1921, Britain divided the island into Northern Ireland, which remained under British rule, and the southern part of the island which was granted independence.
During the 1960s, a civil rights movement focused on bringing equal rights to the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. The movement garnered much support prompting England to send in troops in 1969 to stop the violent acts that were occurring because of the resurgence of paramilitaries, most notably the IRA or Irish Republican Army.
In 1971 a campaign of internment, arrest and imprisonment without trial, began to curb the insurrections. In January 1972, police opened fire on peaceful Catholic protestors killing 13 in an incident known as “Bloody Sunday.” A power-sharing agreement was made in 1973 which was protested against by Protestant workers in the 1974 Ulster Workers’ Council strike.
Prisoners held in internment began hunger strikes in 1981 which resulted in the deaths of ten men but succeeded in bringing Catholic support to IRA activities and brought about much international sympathy for the Republican movement.
Violence reigned during the period of the Troubles. Murders, bombings and riots occurred on both sides, but mainly from the Catholic Republicans. Some 3,523 people died in the conflict between 1969 and 2001.
In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement brought a ceasefire to the main parties of the conflict. Violence however continued because of splinter organizations including the Omagh bombing four months after the agreement that killed 29 people.
The violence has now tapered off and the Protestants and Catholics are
living in a fragile peace under joint rule in the Executive. The IRA continues
to meet disagreements with peaceful actions rather than the bloody violence
that characterized the years of the Troubles.