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The Conflict of Northern and Southern Ireland.

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The Conflict of Northern and Southern Ireland General Background In Ireland there are two opposing sides: - The Nationalists (or Republicans) and the Unionists (or Loyalists). They both want different things. The Nationalists want Ireland to return to being one country instead of having a separate, divided Ireland. The Unionists, however, want Northern Ireland to stay part of the United Kingdom. The Unionists have no designs on extending the United Kingdom in to Southern Ireland but would wish to retain the present political dominance over the political parties that the Republicans support. There is a majority of Protestants in Northern Ireland and the Republican parties will never win a general election. The Republicans, however, wish to overturn the present situation by uniting Ireland and allowing one government to rule the country instead of the British Government ruling the north from Westminster. The political situation is made more complicated by the religious differences between the two sides. The Nationalists are generally Roman Catholic, whereas the Unionists are Protestants. Whilst both are supposedly Christian it has allowed the political conflict to become a sectarian war where people were murdered for nothing more than their religious beliefs. There are also different factions within the two sides; both have an extremist party and a more moderate political party as well as terrorist groups that support the opposing factions. ...read more.


Terrorist outrages involved such acts as the killing of a Catholic pop band, the Miami Showband, by Nationalists (who took them out of their van after a concert and shot them) to the blowing up of a young child at Warrington in Britain. The IRA could only have succeeded with support from the Catholic population. This support was fuelled by the events of Bloody Sunday. Enniskillen -The Protestant Tragedy On the 8th Novembver the BBC reported: 'A bomb has exploded during a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, killing 11 people. At least 63 people were injured in the blast, nine of them seriously. The device went off without warning at the town's cenotaph where people had gathered to pay their respects to the war dead. The dead included three married couples, a retired policeman and a nurse.' The War Memorial at Enniskillen In the aftermath of the bombing a tone of forgiveness was set by Gordon Wilson whose daughter, Marie, was killed and who was himself injured in the attack. "I bear no ill will. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie," Mr Wilson said. A group called Enniskillen Together was set up to further the cause of reconciliation in the area. The IRA lost support worldwide after the bombing. ...read more.


In the end, the Ulster Unionist, SDLP and Sinn Fein leadership welcomed the agreement. Several Unionist MPs defected from the party to oppose the Agreement. The final Agreement was posted to every household in Northern Ireland and put to a referendum on May 22. The result was overwhelmingly in favour of the Agreement: 71.2% of people in Northern Ireland and 94.39% in the Republic voted Yes to accepting the Agreement. In spite of what was seen as the success of the Good Friday Agreement, problems remain. The IRA have not handed in their weapons; there is still no working cabinet in Northern Ireland; there are still incidents of sectarian violence such as violence outside Catholic schools and there is continued mistrust of the police and the military. There is a cease-fire in place but the existence of the various splinter groups of terrorist organisations cause concern that the troubles may re-ignite. The troubles have lasted too long to simply end because of the Good Friday Agreement. Most people in Northern Ireland will know someone who has suffered at the hands of the terrorists. The resentment and distrust will take many generations to remove entirely. There are still instances of prejudice and discrimination in every part of Society and as a result Republicans will still strive for a united Ireland. It is to be hoped that they will do so by democratic methods rather than resorting to violence and terrorism. ...read more.

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