Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland

Britain first got involved in Ireland because, it was believed that it was an excellent military stronghold for the Catholic enemies of Britain (France and Spain). So the British monarchy invaded and encouraged the loyal Protestants from England and Scotland to settle there. “Plantations” were set up by these Protestants. They were given the best land and all the important jobs in Government. Catholics were forced to work on these “Plantations” because they could not get a job anywhere else. These events were the main catalysts in the rebellions that followed.

Beliefs of the Republican/Nationalists

The Republicans/Nationalists are from Southern Ireland, or Eire. Most of the people that live here are Catholics and most of these want to see all of Ireland reunited again as one country. Also, there are a lot of Catholic people living in the North that also want Ireland to reunite so that the fighting and bloodshed stops.

Small terror groups had been set up to rebel against the British. A small minority of Catholics joined the IRA (Irish Republican Army), and until very recently have been prepared to use violence and terror to force the British out of Northern Ireland and reunite the country. Political parties like Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) back the Nationalists.

Southern Ireland first gained its independence from Britain in 1921, when the Isle was partitioned into two. The North remained part of Britain, whereas the South became a separate, independent country. There flag is different to the Union Jack. It has three colours which are Green, White and Orange. People often give the stereotype to Republicans as all terrorists, but this is completely untrue as it is only a small minority of Catholics and extreme Nationalists that choose to use violence to show their opinion.

Beliefs of Loyalists/Unionists

Like Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland is part of the UK. About, 2/3 of the people that live here are Protestant Unionists. The term Loyalist is used to describe the group because they are loyal to Britain and the monarchy. They also believe that being part of Britain is good for the economy of Northern Ireland.

The most outspoken leader for Unionists in Northern Ireland is Ian Paisley. He is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). He wants Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain and for it to be governed by Britain. He has been fighting for many years for the independence of Northern Ireland to remain.

The Republic of Ireland is not solely responsible for the violence in and around Northern Ireland. The Ulster Defence Force (UDF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) are also “terror” groups on the Unionist side. The main Political parties are the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

The Unionist flag is the Union Jack, and the main reason they are against a reunited Ireland is that they will be discriminated against by the Catholics as they have not been “faithful” to Ireland.

Both sides in effect want the same thing but both have different ways of trying to get it. This difference of opinion of achieving this goal is what is causing the problem. Both sides want there to be peace between them and for both religions and beliefs to be able to live among each others community and not be discriminated against. But there is one small problem; the Unionists want to remain as part of Britain, whereas the Nationalists want Ireland to reunite, therefore causing, at present, an unbreakable barrier to a political agreement.

There are two ways of trying to resolve this problem. The first is the political and most humane way. The Republican parties like Sinn Fein and the SDLP use politics to try and reunite Ireland, whereas the UUP and the DUP use politics to try and stop this from happening.

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On the other hand, both sides have terrorist movements that use violence to get their point across. The IRA and the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) represent the Nationalist through violence and terror, whereas the UDA and the UDF counter this for the Unionists. Some people think that Sinn Fein secretly back the IRA and fund their weapons.

Until very recently the IRA have been terrorising Northern Ireland. They have been bombing and shooting innocent people just to prove a point. However, recently the IRA has claimed that they have completely decommissioned their weapons. Most people believe this ...

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