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The conflicts in Northern Ireland since 1960 were caused purely by religious factors.

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Introduction

The conflicts in Northern Ireland since 1960 were caused purely by religious factors. The conflicts in Northern Ireland are explained, by many, as being rooted in "purely" religious issues. However, to say that religion is the sole cause of problems since 1960 is a gross simplification. The problems of the 1960s onwards are deep-rooted and stem from long term causes such as the Elizabethan plantations and penal laws of the 1600s, the Act of Union of 1801 and the partition of Ireland in 1921, and also short term causes such as All these actions, by successive British monarchies and governments, sought to deprive the native Irish population, the majority of whom happened to be practising Catholics, from having a democratic say in their lives. These Catholics had been victims of centuries of bigotry and political, social and economic discrimination. Between 1968-69, a new generation of educated middle-class Catholics became a militant political force and campaigned for equality and civil rights, which in many cases, had also been denied to their Protestant counterparts. ...read more.

Middle

Between 1945 and 1967 the local authorities in Fermanagh built 1,048 houses of which 18 per cent were allocated to Catholics and 82 per cent were allocated to Protestants. This is an example of the discrimination Catholics faced in the allocation of council housing, showing that at this time Catholics were considered second-class citizens. Voting in Northern Ireland was determined on the basis of property. Elections were gerrymandered so that the government was not proportionally representative as those that did not own a property could not vote, and those that owned several properties were granted several votes. The working-class population, which had a Catholic majority, therefore suffered misrepresentation. For example, in Londonderry, 8 Nationalist councillors represented 14,000 Catholics whereas 12 Unionist councillors represented 9,000 Protestants. With the free education offered to all in post-World War II Britain, an independent generation of middle-class educated Catholics were looking for better lives than that offered to their fathers who suffered political, social and economic discrimination in the form of gerrymandering, unemployment and housing. ...read more.

Conclusion

From 1968 onwards, Catholics politics changed and different tactics were applied. Both the Dungannon, Londonderry and People's Democracy marches displayed non-violent protest from the marchers, made violent by outraged Loyalists, who saw the marchers as Republicans, eager to reconnect to the Republic. The Marches attracted mass media attention and portrayed Northern Ireland as an oppressive, intolerant state; this embarrassed the British government and forced them to take action. In August 1969, the British Army arrived on the streets of Belfast, unaware that their presence would still be required 30 years later. Many Protestants saw the Civil Rights Movement as a plot to destabilise Northern Ireland and were reluctant to become involved. Gusty Spence, leader of the UVF paramilitary group acknowledges that "with hindsight, everyone should have been in the civil rights movement...to bring enlightened policies which would make life better for all." Many working-class Protestants resented Catholics as the media gave the impression that only they suffered hardships while a privileged Protestant community looked down on them, a Protestant housewife argued "it was always the Catholics... living in poverty and us lording it over them... with the damp running down the walls and the houses not fit to live in." ...read more.

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