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In this essay I am going to try and decide whether the cause of the Northern Island troubles were long term or short term.

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In this essay I am going to try and decide whether the cause of the Northern Island troubles were long term or short term. Some people believe that the troubles in Northern Ireland began hundreds of years ago - that the current conflict was started by religious differences and has continued to the present day. The other viewpoint is that the disturbance today only began when tensions started building at the time of the Civil Rights movements/marches during the 1960s. This viewpoint claims that earlier events had no bearing on the struggles of today, they were simply used to make a point of whom out of the Nationalist or the Unionists were right. View One Many people believe that the conflict really began in the 1530s when Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and set up his own Protestant Church in England. Although Protestantism was now the major religion in England most of the Irish people remained Catholic, so Henry declared himself King of Ireland. He tried to anglicise the Irish so they would no longer appear against the English. This could be a major religious cause as it created the two separate groups of people in the first place - making it an important factor in bringing about the difficulties. Catholics could feel like they were alienated from the start - and the fact that King Henry just declared himself king of Ireland could strengthen some Nationalist arguments. When Queen Elizabeth defeated Irish Catholic rebels in 1601 she rewarded her Protestant supporters and gave them lands taken from the rebels. This was taken further by King James I. He began a full scale 'Plantation of Ulster' in 1609. Scottish and English Protestants were encouraged to settle on land taken away from Catholics. All they had to do was to take an oath of loyalty. This pushed the Catholics out and made them resent the Protestants. ...read more.


That is the reason Louis XIV supplied former King James with troops and ships. James though he could use the fact he was Catholic to gain Irish support and get his throne back. Already the war doesn't sound at all religious. On top of this Williams 'protestant' army had several catholic regiments and was even supported by the Pope. Huge celebrations were held in Rome after Williams' victory. This could show us that perhaps it is not the history that is the problem - perhaps it is the way it is used by the modern groups looking for powerful historical symbols to justify the actions they take today. Another example of this is Wolfe Tone. The myth of Wolfe Tone goes as such: 'Dublin Lawyer, Theobald Wolfe Tone, sets up the Society of United Irishmen, inspired by the French Revolution in 1789 and campaigns to overturn the Penal Laws which are very harsh on Catholics. He fled to America to avoid arrest, but returned in 1796 to try and get support for an uprising in Ireland. The uprising began in 1978, but the rebels were defeated at the battle of Vinegar Hill in June 1978. When Wolfe Tone was captured he slit his own throat. The British then decided that it was too dangerous to allow Ireland to have it's own Parliament and it was therefore united to England by an Act of Union in 1800. Wolfe Tone soon became a symbol of resistance for all Irish Catholics.' However, this isn't the full picture. Before we even start to contradict the story, Wolfe Tone wasn't a celebrated Catholic hero until the late 19th century. Tone was also a reformer, as opposed to being a revolutionary. He saw resistance as a last resort and only fought back after his poor treatment by the British government. He wasn't even only answering to the plight of the Catholics; he also fought the harsh judgement forced on the Presbyterian Protestants. ...read more.


So, on the afternoon of August 15th 1969 the British army came onto the streets of Belfast - and they would still be there 30 years later. Conclusion With the complicated history that Ireland has it's easy to see why people's views differ as to why it all led to violence. I believe that the real violence that actually was between Nationalists and Unionists only began really in 1968 with all the civil rights marches. However, to discover the reasons for the civil rights marches you have to go back a few years to when Catholic discrimination began, and then you might go back a few more years to try and discover the reason for that. From my point of view it's just one long messy chain of events until 1969. It appears that there was always a little bit of resentment between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland (seemingly caused by either British monarchy or British politicians). Even though street history tends to make things that little bit worse, like the Protestants idolising William of Orange, or the Catholics idolising Wolfe Tone, regardless of what actually happened, I think that if there wasn't a little bit of hatred between them in the first place these stories would not have come about. I think the more important causes of the troubles in Northern Ireland were early, like when Henry VIII created Protestantism. When he tried to force this on the Irish. When King James I took land away from Irish Catholics and gave it away to British Protestants. Factors such as these triggered a separation that has lasted centuries. I believe that the separation that this caused eventually led to the partitioning of Ireland, which in turn, led to discrimination and violence in 1969. In conclusion, though the violence in 1969 seemingly was caused by the tensions in the 1960s and the civil rights marches, the tensions wouldn't have existed if it weren't for all that came before it. Which was more important in bringing about the troubles which broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969 - long or short term causes? ...read more.

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