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Unionists and Nationalists in Northern Ireland

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There have been many conflicts between the Unionists and Nationalists in Northern Ireland for hundreds of years. The reason for these problems is the complex history there is between the two different political groups. Both groups want different things; the Unionists want to keep Northern Ireland separate from the Irish Republic and linked to Britain, whereas the Nationalists want a united Ireland, independent from British rule. The two groups are also of different religion, the Unionists are mainly Protestants but the Nationalists tend to be Catholics. Hatred and suspicion have been passed down through the generations and with all people (not just the Irish) it takes a very long time for adjustment. There are many reasons for the Unionists to mistrust the Nationalists, many of them short-term and many of them long-term causes. The unionists are mainly Protestants and although they are in the minority in Ireland they own the majority of the land and power and have done since the 17th Century. They are pleased that they have great lands and fear that Catholics will seize it like they did in 1641 when the Catholics rebelled and 12000 Protestant settlers were killed. The Protestants fear this is going to happen again. This is a long-term cause. The Protestants have their Orange Order (an organisation formed in 1795-opposed to the Catholic Church) marches re-routed in order for them not to go through Catholic land. ...read more.


One of the most important short-term causes of the Unionists' mistrust is the Omagh bombing in 1998. It was horrific and inexcusable. People were appalled by the bombing which was outside a children's clothes shop and 29 people were killed. Although this was a horrific crime some Unionists saw it as a good sign as republican extremists lost most of their support. Although things in Ireland seem to be getting worse, some extremist groups do change. One of those is the IRA who were prepared to stop fighting and decommission but are now still causing violence and some of their bombs have killed Unionists which they are not happy about. A contrast is Ian Paisley who hasn't changed his views once. He is a hard-line Unionist who believes that Ulster should remain part of the United Kingdom. He is not willing to compromise, which prevents a rational debate about any form of power sharing. His son is now in politics and has the same views as his father. The mistrust is not a one-way thing the Nationalists distrust the Unionists just as much. Plantations are a long-term cause of mistrust. When the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, both Elizabeth I and James I encouraged English and Scottish Protestants to move to Ireland, which is called the 'Plantation' of Ulster, in 1603. ...read more.


Whilst studying Northern Ireland I have noticed that all the cause go back to the past and no one is willing to forget the past. It may be easier to forget the past if Northern Ireland wasn't so divided. There are many divisions in society including education, religion and employment. Children's parents are often very influential on them and if the child's parents do not associate with Unionists or Protestants, the chances are the child won't either. The problems are economical, political and enviromental. Another problem that became apparent to me was that one cause often caused something else. For example Bloody Sunday, which happened in 1972, is still under investigation today, so people will never forget what happened. When a certain group remembers a certain event they often want to take action against it, this action is usually violence. For example Protestants opposed Home Rule so they took action (Easter Rising). There have been times when Britain has tried to solve the troubles between Northern Ireland, The Good Friday Agreement, but this has just resulted in more violence and has not worked. I think the main cause for so much troubles in Northern Ireland, is the British. If they had not brought Protestants into Ireland, then there wouldn't be half as much bother. I have decided there will never be peace in Northern Ireland no matter how hard people to try, because not everyone will always be happy. We have to remember though, that although there is a lot of violence in Northern Ireland, there are also good things going on everyday. ...read more.

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