The Great Famine was when the potato crop failed and the Protestant landowners wanted money before they gave them any crops. The Catholics paid in corn but their land went bad. This resulted in at least one million deaths. To escape the famine 1.5 million people emigrated. This caused further tension between Catholics and Protestants.
July 12th is the most important date to the Orange Order because it marks the anniversary of the victory of the Battle of the Boyne. The banner they carry has the slogan ‘No Surrender’ written across it, this shows that the Protestants are proud of who they are. Also this slogan implies to the Catholics that the Protestants will never back down. This slogan is a constant reminder to the Catholics of how they have been treated like second class citizens and how the Protestants will never treat them as equals.
All the events I have just discussed give the Orange Order marches a greater chance of conflict because they are just showing off in Catholics faces of how they are better than them in every single way and that they won’t back down. This would provoke the Catholics into retaliating.
The Orange Order parade causes so much conflict in Northern Ireland because it is the Protestants reminding the Catholics of the political, religious, economical, housing, educational divisions between the two religions where Catholics have been treated as second class citizens. In the next few paragraphs I will discuss why these issues have caused so much conflict between the two religions.
There have been divisions between Protestants and Catholics politically. Protestants will vote for the Ulster unionist party or the democratic unionist party, where as Catholics will vote for Sinn Fein or the SDLP. This causes divisions between the two religions because they disagree on what should happen politically.
Religion is one of several factors that divide unionists from nationalists. 16th century Britain turned Protestant while Ireland stayed Catholic. Some Ulster Protestants believe that the Catholic Church wants to take over the world. Protestant preachers, like Paisley, say that the Protestant way of life will be threatened in a united Ireland. After 1922 the Dublin government have tried not to pass laws that the Catholic Church doesn’t like. Divorce has been made illegal in the Republic. Many Protestants fear that similar catholic laws will be passed in a united Ireland. The churches have great power over education in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. These factors caused more resentment between the two religions because they have disagreed on a lot of things.
Economics is another factor that divides Catholics from Protestants. During the 17th century in Ireland Protestants came to get better farms. They were given land taken from Catholics. During the 18th century penal laws stopped Catholics from gaining power e.g. good jobs or buying land. In the 19th century some Ulster Protestants got rich and thought that they could only stay rich by keeping links with Britain. After Ireland separated in two, Catholics in the north found it hard to get jobs and find housing. Lower benefits were paid to the south, another reason why unionists wanted to stay British. In Northern Ireland today unemployment is high, but it is a lot harder for Catholics to get a job. Economics caused more conflict just because if someone was Catholic they would be less well off than if you were Protestant.
The education system in Northern Ireland encourages the division between Catholics and Protestants to stay the same or get worse. The majority of children in Northern Ireland either go to a Catholic or Protestant school. The education curriculum differs between the two type of schools e.g. Catholic learn Irish but Protestants don’t, Catholics play Gaelic sports but Protestants play British sports (cricket etc.). When looking at someone’s application they can make a snap judgement on someone depending on what school they went to. Both churches dislike the idea of mixed schooling, but especially the Catholic Church. Since 1981 parent have set up a few mixed schools in Northern Ireland. This schooling system automatically puts a label on you, so to mix with the other group/religion would be unnatural (out of order) many would feel.
Housing is the last factor that causes divisions between the two religions. Lands have been divided between Catholics and Protestants since the 17th century. This was when the Protestants came over, took the best land and built new Protestant towns. Catholic areas started to develop as more Catholics starting working there. The unionist councils were more reluctant to let Catholics get decent council houses. This was a major contributing factor to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. In 1969 Catholics in Protestants areas of Belfast were persecuted via having their houses torched. In the present time there are very few mixed areas. There is no reason to mix between different areas because most district’s have everything you need for a normal life e.g. shops, schools etc. An enormous wall has been built in Belfast. This ‘peace line’ is meant to stop violence between Catholics and Protestants. The idea of mixed housing has little chance of happening in the near future. The housing system promotes divisions and bad feeling between the two religions because the Protestants get the best land and they never mix.
The partition of Ireland in the north and south has been crucial in sustaining the divisions. The separation between south of Ireland (Catholics) and north of Ireland (Protestants) encourages the division because they never mix.
The bad feeling is mainly about the two religions, but other factors are tagged to this and therefore they become a part of what religion you are e.g. economics.
The nationalists want a united Ireland because it is their Ireland, it was the British who invaded them and it would be full of Catholics. However the loyalists would want Northern Ireland to remain a part of the United Kingdom because Britain has lots of money and in case of a war they have allies in Northern Ireland to fight with and Ireland won’t be used as a base for enemies. This is the fundamental basis of the conflict between Protestants and Catholics.
All the divisions between the two religions have been a big contributor to any conflict that happens at an Orange Order march because the march is just reminding the Catholics of how they have been treated badly and given unfair treatment just because they are Catholic. This is likely to cause a violent reaction to some Catholics during a Orange Order march.
The Easter rising was an attempt by some revolutionary nationalists to take control of Ireland and make it the Republic. This attempt failed and hardly anyone supported it. The British government decided to execute the leaders, this therefore lead to them becoming martyrs. After World War 1, there was big support for revolutionary nationalists, Britain solved this by dividing Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The partition of Ireland in 1941 caused many effects in Northern Ireland over the years. 1963-67 the new unionist government promised Catholics fairer treatment. 1967-68 the Catholics get impatient at the slow pace of the reform. Then the Civil Rights movement begins. October of 1968-July of 1969 fighting breaks out between Protestants and Catholics at Civil Rights marches. In August 1969 British troops are sent in to keep the peace. Later on that year in November the I.R.A. provos start their fight against the British and unionists. During the whole of 1969 the unionist government brings in changes to the police, housing, elections and jobs. In August 1970 ordinary Catholics decide to oppose the violence and set up a new political party, the SDLP. A year later internment happens which is where the unionist government starts to imprison suspected terrorists without trial. Next month the Protestants set up the UVF and the UDA. In January 1972 Bloody Sunday happens which is where British troops shoot at Civil Right marches. Later on that year in March the British government scraps the Northern Ireland parliament and begins to rule Northern Ireland directly from London.
The battle of Bogside happened on the 12th of August 1969. This was when the Protestant Apprentice Boys marched to commemorate the siege at Derry. A battle broke out between Catholic and Protestant youths. During this incident CS gas was used for the first time. Lynch calls for a U.N. peacekeeping force to be sent to the north. On August the 14th British troops are sent in to keep the peace and enforce security. Catholics see this as a win and Protestant hope for the unionist rule to be removed. The British search Catholic areas looking for arms, 4 people are shot dead during this search. Three soldiers are shot by provisionals from a Belfast pub. In Derry the army shoots dead two unarmed rioters.
Bloody Sunday happened on Sunday the 30th of January in 1972. It started with the Civil Rights Association (Catholics) planning a march to Derry. A British Battalion is brought in to aim to control any conflict. The British shoot dead thirteen people. The troops defence to this action was that they claimed they were being fired on. The British were accused of being ‘trigger happy’ and were shooting at innocent people. Later the Parachute Regiment Commander (Colonel Wilkinson) is awarded an O.B.E.
Catholics won’t trust security forces much after Bloody Sunday and Bogside because they shot and killed innocent Catholics so why should they trust the security forces because they shot at innocent people and now Catholics will expect them to shot at anyone who is Catholic.
The events at Bloody Sunday still cause controversy today because the leader of the troops got an O.B.E. instead of being punished for what happened, the action of him getting an O.B.E. is justifying what happened on Bloody Sunday.
The events at Bloody Sunday and battle of Bogside are recent events that are very clear in people’s memories. In these events many people have lost loved ones and these memories of these events are still bitter in many people’s minds. This gives the chance of conflict happening at Orange Order marches a much greater chance because the parade brings back painful memories of these events.
In the contemporary events marches have become the focus of conflict between Catholics and Protestants especially at Drumcree. This is the violence the Orange Order parade has caused from 1995-2000. Protestants blocked many roads, burnt many cars, damaged property and a Catholic taxi driver was murdered. Catholics threw over 8000 petrol bombs in the worst outbreak of rioting for over 25 years. In 1997 petrol bombs, stones and bottles were thrown. Police armoured vehicles pushed nationalists back which led to violence from nationalist. During the period between 1995 and 1997 nearly £4000000 worth of damage was caused. During 1998 three young Quinn brothers were killed in an arson attack just because they were Catholics and the arsonists did this to support the right to march. There were more than 130 arson attempts on Catholics, 10 overnight attacks on Catholics churches with three being destroyed and twelve Catholic schools were set on fire. The LYF is suspected. In 1999 rocks and missiles were thrown at the police. In 2000 21 police and a few soldiers were injured during rioting. The security forces were attacked by petrol bombs and fireworks. Vehicles were hijacked and set on fire, also there were arson attacks on two churches. There was also a bomb attack on the R.U. (sanction by the real I.R.A.), no injuries just structural damage.
During the period of 1995-2000 there were many different events that happened, in the next paragraph I am going to discuss what events took place which related to the Orange Order march in Drumcree. In 1995 the police blocked the Orangemen’s parade from going into a Catholic village, this lead to a three day stand-off, after the stand-off they finally let them through. In 1996 the chief constable ordered the Orange Order parade to be rerouted away from Garvaghy road. This used to be a country lane until it turned into a Catholic village. The residents of the estate see such parades as Protestant triumphalism and are likely to react violently to these parades. In 1997 the RUC cleared the road and allowed the parade to go down Garvaghy road. In 1998 they banned the parade from marching down Garvaghy road even though they have marched this route since 1807, they have cut the number of parades going down that road from 10 to 1, they have walked quicker and marched in silence. The security enforced to support this ban was greater than ever. This included 1000 troops, barricades of razor wire, road blocks and a ditch filled with concrete bollards. They expected 50000 to appear but the turnout was small and the protest soon petered out expect for the odd few. The three Quinn’s death brought a turning point because it put into perspective what the parade is worth. William Bingham and David Trimble realise that a road isn’t worth their lives. In 1999 similar security measures were put in as were put in the year before. In 2000 Protestants demonstrated on the roads of Northern Ireland forming many road blockades because they couldn’t complete their march through Drumcree.
The events at Drumcree remind people of all their different attitudes about why they want to march or why they don’t want the march to happen. This march reminds people of deep feelings that go way back through their generations. These are differences that not only separate the two religions but separate communities in them. These differences can affect how they think they should get their point across of whether they think the parade should go ahead or not. These differences are whether they resort to violence or do it peacefully. This leads to a greater chance of violence occurring at an Orange Order marches because some people will only think acts of violence will get their view across and this can lead to other acts of violence whether retaliating or just following the example set.
The peace process for Northern Ireland began in 1993 with the Downing Street Declaration. These were talks that involved the U.K. Prime Minister, the Irish Prime Minister, representatives from loyalist and nationalists parties. The talks involved the British government stating that it had no selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland. Also the other main point is that if any changes occur in Ireland then it will be decided by its people. Hard liners were outraged at this. Ian Paisley called the Declaration a sell-out to Dublin. The more moderate Ulster unionist were willing to consider the document. The agreement said that if Sinn Fein got the I.R.A. to agree to a cease-fire they could join talks on the future of Northern Ireland.
The I.R.A. has announced a ceasefire after 25 years of what it called its "armed struggle" to get the British out of Northern Ireland. This has raised hopes that all the bombings and shootings will end which lead to more than 3000 deaths in the last quarter of a century. The statement from the I.R.A. read that there would be a "complete cessation of military operations". The loyalists were suspicious of this cease-fire, but Catholic areas celebrated this. The I.R.A had many different reasons for agreeing to this cease-fire. Firstly through the 1980s the Catholic Church put pressure on Sinn Fein to look for a peaceful arrangement. In 1991-93 loyalist killings were of a higher number than the I.R.A.’s. After Bill Clinton was elected president in America in 1993 he put pressure on the I.R.A. to announce a cease-fire. The Downing Street Declaration also put pressure on this cease-fire if they wanted Sinn Fein who are own their side to have any say of what happens to Northern Ireland. Seven weeks later after this cease-fire loyalist terror groups announce a cease-fire.
In February 1996 after seventeen months of cease-fire the I.R.A. explode a bomb at Canary Wharf which killed 2 people and many are injured. The British government put up a new barrier to talks after this event. Peace talks were at a stand still now after the I.R.A. proved untrustworthy. In May 1997 a new cease-fire has been agreed.
The Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 was marked as historic agreement. This agreement has been stated as the best chance for peace since ‘the troubles’ began. This agreement was more popular with Catholics than Protestants, but there was a low percentage of people in the Republic who voted for the agreement which shows that it affects them less, however there was a higher percentage of people who voted for it in Northern Ireland which shows that it affects them more. In this agreement there are both points that Catholics and Protestants don’t like. Neither of the two religions will like the fact that bombers and gunmen will be released because they are criminals who can easily kill again.
After I have discussed all the past events that have happened in the peace process I am now going to write about some of the recent events which have occurred in the last two years. On the 28th July 2005 the I.R.A. formally ordered an end to its campaign of terror and says it will act in peaceful means now. In March 2006 a lack of trust between the two major political parties in Northern Ireland has brought an impasse to the peace talks. The British and Irish Prime Ministers announce they are restoring the Northern Ireland assembly established by the Good Friday Agreement on the 6th of April 2006. On the 6th of September an independent report says that the peace process in making progress. Next month another independent report says that in Northern Ireland the Provisional Irish Republic Army has forsaken terrorism and violence in favour of peaceful political means. At the beginning of December the U.S. receive news of recent progress by the Irish and British government and local political factors on sharing power in Northern Ireland.
As time goes on and the peace process gets stronger the chance of violence occurring at Orange Order marches gets less. The chance of peace happening in Northern Ireland gets better every day because peace is the main aim for the political parties. There have been breaches of cease-fires but the future in Northern Ireland looks better than it ever has done at this moment in time.
Not all Orange Order parades cause conflict, but when violence occurs as a result it is because the Protestants are reminding the Catholics of the past. The Protestants are reminding the Catholics that they are the winners and the there will be ‘no surrender’. This implies to the Catholics that they will always be treated as second class citizens, this can provoke them into violent actions. If the march at Drumcree isn’t allowed to be complete it can cause violence, on the other hand if the march is allowed to be complete it can cause violence. Northern Ireland has caused lots of division’s not just the two religions. The two religions only mix when Protestants feel the right to march. As long as this happens there is always going to be violence, on the other hand the peace process is moving in the right direction so there is a possibility that there will be a way to stop violence occurring that suits both sides.