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Is there sufficient evidence in sources D to J to explain why the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969?

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Introduction

Is there sufficient evidence in sources D to J to explain why the Troubles broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969? By 1968 Protestants Unionists were controlling the government in Northern Ireland. They managed to stay in control due to the gerrymandering of the election boundaries. This meant that the Catholics were being treated unfairly- they were often left with the poorest housing and jobs. Catholics began to hold peaceful civil rights marches because they were unhappy about the slow pace of the reform which had been promised by the new Unionist government. During these protests violence broke out between the Catholics and the Protestants and in 1969 the British government sent in troops to restore order. The next few years became known as the Troubles as a result of the constant violence and conflict of which Bloody Sunday, 30th January 1972 was a major and tragic event. Source D is written by a Catholic woman describing her schooldays. The source was produced in 1969, at the beginning of the Troubles where emotions and tensions were likely to be very high between the Nationalists and the Unionists. This particular source very much emphasises strong Irish pride and Catholicism and therefore is likely to have bias. The writer talks about her Vice Principal, an educator who therefore could easily influence children with her opinions about the English/Protestants, teaching them also to have prejudices. ...read more.

Middle

The source is mocking the Catholics and therefore does have bias which could question its reliability. However, the bias of the source helps to identify why there was any conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants in the first place. The fact that it is a cartoon also questions its value as a reliable source and because it has very little explanation, there is not enough detail to give sufficient evidence to why the Troubles broke out. Source F is a map of Derry in 1966, when the Protestants Unionists ruled Northern Ireland. The government treated the Catholics unfairly, giving them the poorest housing and jobs, creating the Protestant armed police forced (B Specials) who were prejudiced against Catholics, and then gerrymandering the electoral boundaries to make sure they remained in control. In 1966 the majority of the population in Derry was Catholic and as the source shows, by moving the boundaries Catholic votes were split up (North Ward, Waterside Ward) resulting in the Protestants being the majority in each area. In 1966 eight Nationalists and twelve Unionists were elected, therefore keeping the Protestants in power. F is an entirely factual source (unlike D and E) making it more reliable/valuable. It suggests that gerrymandering and the fact that the Protestants remained in power brought about the Troubles because the Catholics felt they were being treated unfairly. ...read more.

Conclusion

However the source has no explanation for why Loyalists ambushed the Republicans at this particular march, therefore the source does not have sufficient evidence. Finally, the last source (J) is from the film, 'Bloody Sunday' which was produced in 1972 (in the midst of the troubles, therefore should be quite accurate and relevant). The film explains why the Troubles began in much detail- it shows that civil rights marches (in Belfast and Derry) were held because the Catholics were being treated unfairly and also shows how they ended in violence when Protestants would attack them. Although this films claims 'it is based entirely of British Government documents, interviews, eyewitness reports and court transcripts', there are other films made of the Troubles in Ireland which contradict. This film only looks at the conflict through the view of one Catholic family and therefore doesn't show the entirety of why the Troubles started. After thorough study of the sources it can be concluded that although they give some evidence to why the Troubles began in 1969, they are all insufficient in giving a full account. The majority of the sources are short and therefore lack detail and explanation into why the Troubles did start. Many of the sources (e.g. G) have some form of bias, which could question their reliability and value. However, together all of the sources do provide some basis for why the Troubles started, combining the history of the religious divide with the newer prejudices between the two groups. ...read more.

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