History of Northern Ireland

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History of Northern Ireland

Post  kosovohp on Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:50 pm

Northern Ireland was created as a division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and until 1972 it was a self-governing jurisdiction within the United Kingdom with its own parliament and prime minister. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War and Belfast suffered a bombing raid in 1941. Conscription was not extended to Northern Ireland and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland as volunteered from the south. One, James Joseph Magennis, received the Victoria Cross for valour.
Edward Carson signing the Solemn League and Covenant in 1912, declaring opposition to Home Rule "using all means which may be found necessary".

Although Northern Ireland was largely spared the strife of the civil war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes of inter-communal violence. Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom, whereas unionists, mainly Protestant, wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. The Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the Government of Northern Ireland (elected by "first past the post" from 1929) was controlled by the Ulster Unionist Party. Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fueled by practices such as gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment.[56][57][58]

In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist counter-protests.[59] The government's reaction to confrontations was seen to be one-sided and heavy-handed in favour of unionists. Law and order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased.[60] The Northern Ireland government was forced to request the British Army to aid the police, who were exhausted after several nights of serious rioting. In 1969, the paramilitary Provisional IRA, which favoured the creation of a united Ireland, emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army and began a campaign against what it called the "British occupation of the six counties".

Other groups, on both the unionist side and the nationalist side, participated in violence and a period known as the Troubles began. Over 3,600 deaths resulted over the subsequent three decades of conflict.[61] Owing to the civil unrest during the Troubles, the British government suspended home rule in 1972 and imposed "direct rule" from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. There were several ultimately unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically, such as the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973. In 1998, following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Belfast Agreement was concluded and ratified by referendum across the entire island. The Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of power-sharing between the two communities. Violence decreased greatly after the signing of the accord and in 2005 the Provisional IRA announced the end of its armed campaign and an independent commission supervised its disarmament.[62] The power-sharing assembly was suspended several times but was restored again in 2007. In that year, the British government officially ended its military support of the police in Northern Ireland and began withdrawing troops.

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