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Why was there a change in the levels of tension between Unionists and Nationalists between 1968 and 1998?

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Introduction

Why was there a change in the levels of tension between Unionists and Nationalists between 1968 and 1998? There were several key factors which changed the levels of tension between Unionists and Nationalists between 1968 and 1998. Some historians may argue that the politic events in Northern Ireland during this time period caused the greatest change in tension, whilst others may argue that the relationship between London and Dublin caused the greatest change in tension. Others may argue that the role of the people in Northern Ireland was a bigger factor. However, I would argue that the violence in Northern Ireland resulted in the greatest change in tension. This is because the violence in Northern Ireland led to even more hatred between the two groups. This hatred resulted in even more violence which would have led to the Unionists and Nationalists having a greater fear of each other. This would have led to an increase in the levels of tension. One of the key factors which led to a change in the levels of tension between Unionists and Nationalists was the sending of British troops to Northern Ireland. Following the Battle of the Bogside, the Nationalists felt as though that they could no longer trust the RUC. This was because it was alleged that the RUC helped the Unionists in the riot after the Apprentice Boys' march. ...read more.

Middle

An obvious but major factor which changed the levels of tension was the role of the paramilitaries. Throughout the troubles, the paramilitaries used violence against the other side. Source 14 (page 96) is an extract from a novel. It says in the novel "The only thing you're [The paramilitaries] doing is making people hate each other worse than ever." This source shows us that the violence caused by the paramilitaries resulted in greater hatred between the Unionists and Nationalists so, in this way, there would have been even more violence. This increased violence would have led to an increase in the levels of tension between the Unionists and Nationalists. However, some historians may argue that this source is unreliable as it was written in a novel, which was a work of fiction. However, I would argue that this source is indeed reliable as, even though this source was written in a novel, there have been many cases in history where violence leads to more hatred. For example, in the USA, the Black Panthers used violence which resulted in more hate for black people. Therefore, in my opinion, this source is reliable and so it is fair to say that the violence used by paramilitaries increased tension and led to even more violence and hatred between the two sides. Another key factor which changed the levels of tension between Unionists and Nationalists was the reforms passed by O'Neill in 1968. ...read more.

Conclusion

This increase in violence would have increased tension. Some historians may argue that the IRA was also angry with the introduction of the Power-Sharing executive. This is because, as explained in the previous paragraph, the IRA may have just been fighting for their existence, so the introduction of the Power-Sharing Executive would have led to the IRA becoming angry as their existence was threatened. This would have increased the risk of violence, and so tension would have increased. In conclusion, I would argue that the violence and the role of the paramilitaries in the Northern Ireland led to the greatest change in the levels of tension. All of the other factors (politic, role of the people and relationship between the UK and Dublin) resulted in the same thing: a change in the levels of violence or a change in the risk of violence. In my opinion, if these factors had not led to a change in the levels of violence, the levels of tension would have not changed. In fact, if there was no increase in tension because of violence, the other factors would not have taken place. For example, the Power Sharing Executive was introduced only to reduce support for the IRA, and thus to reduce violence. Had there been no violence, the Power-Sharing Executive would not have been introduced, as there would have been little tension. Therefore, I believe that violence was almost certainly the cause for the changes in the levels of tension in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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