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Why has it been so difficult to bring peace to Northern Ireland?

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Why has it been so difficult to bring peace to Northern Ireland? Introduction When there are two such opposing, extreme views, there is no room for compromise, neither side wanting to give in, as this would show weakness. The Nationalists and Unionists, both refuse to give way, both adamant that their sides are the martyrs. It is this resolute refusal to admit they were/are wrong, linked with the grudges they bare from the past is what makes it so difficult to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The troubles stem from over 300 years ago when Protestants were planted in Ulster; it is this which stared the volatile divisions between Protestants and Catholics. The Nationalists, who are mainly Catholic, want Ireland to be united and free from Great Britain, whereas Unionists, mainly Protestants, wish to remain part of the UK, who they feel protect them. Both sides are adamant that their beliefs should be upheld, meaning a huge power struggle ensues. This makes it hard to find a middle ground to bring peace to Northern Ireland. After years of violence and antagonism between the two sides, in recent times progress has finally been made with the Good Friday Agreement. This progress, however, has been limited as in October 2002 the peace process was suspended, mainly due to the IRAs refusal to disarm; consequently the unionist paramilitaries refuse to disarm. ...read more.


"The Great Famine" as its known, occurred between 1845 - 51, during this time England controlled Ireland, many Catholics were forced to leave Ireland due to the poverty inflicted by the failure of the potatoe crop. These Catholics strongly feel that if it weren't for the British controlling the land this poverty could have been avoided. They dismiss the fact that the English tried to send aid and only see them as greedy landlords who caused poverty and the death of over 1 million people. They use these deaths as justification to join the IRA, they think the British caused the deaths of their people, whilst Protestants remained wealthy, they think that this means they have the right have the right to seek vengeance on the British people. Both Protestants and Catholics use history as reasons to hold grudges and bear resentment against eachother, an excuse to retaliate to an event which happened well in the past. It is the dismissal of relevant parts of history that creates "street history" a distortion of the true facts of the past, making one side seem superior to the other. If it weren't for this street history being passed along from generation to generation, grudges would not be rekindled and it would be far easier to gain peace in Northern Ireland. ...read more.


Both paramilitaries sparked of eachother in a 30-year period of tit for tat violence, each side justifying their actions for those of the other, in a continuous vicious circle. It is the formation of the provisional IRA that caused the extreme violence in this period; they branched of from the IRA, believing that only brutal force could win. Bloody Sunday 1972, in which 13 men were shot dead by British troops during civil rights marches, intensified the Catholic hatred of the British, they retaliate with bombing campaigns on London and Northern Ireland. Both paramilitaries hold their own communities in fear, with punishments such as knee capping, and tarring and feathering to keep control. Their own communities scared into submission; too afraid to stand up to them. It has been so difficult to gain peace due to the fierce intensity of the hatred between Unionists and Nationalists, 30 years of animalistic violence serving only to deepen this hatred further. Sinn Fein, is seen by many as the political wing of the IRA, many of its members being ex IRA, Unionists refused to become part of an assembly in which ex IRA members were sitting, leaving very little room for an essential compromise. It is only because the people of Northern Ireland are so tired with the 30 years of violence and bloodshed (over 3000 people have been killed in this time) that compromise has finally been made in the form of the Good Friday Agreement. History Coursework Lucy Adler ...read more.

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