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troubles in northern ireland

Free essay example:

Ellie Wilmshurst                10NC

Miss Holdaway

History Coursework

Troubles in Northern Ireland

Is There Sufficient Evidence in Sources D-I to Explain Why the Troubles Broke Out in 1969?


Throughout history England has ruled Ireland. For Over 300 years there has been conflict between Catholics and Protestants. The whole conflicts was rooted in religion, but within the last centaury the troubles have escalated to include political and economical issues for example; in 1921 Protestants set down things like the penal laws in the 17th centaury,  Catholics were excluded from politics; they were treated as if they were below Protestants. Problems like this have led Catholics fighting for what they believe is right and for their equality, they have shown this in non-violent and violent forms one example is bloody Sunday in 1969. In 1918 Ireland was partitioned into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Ireland was split into three separate parties; Nationalists were home rule and to be part of the British Empire, Unionists were to be completely ruled by Britain, Sinn Fein were to be entirely independent with their own government and rules.

In the following essay I am going to describe and evaluate sources D-I in telling us why violence erupted in 1969. I will be exploring the sources reliability, accuracy, whether it is fact, whether it is biased and basically discussing whether they are reliable evidence to show us exactly why the trouble did brake out in 1969.

Source D

Source D is an adaptation written by a Catholic civil rights spokes person named B Devlin in 1969. B Devlin based this piece of writing on how a young Roman Catholic school girl described her days. Source D tells the reader about how the vice principle of St Patrick’s Academy, Mother Benignus felt towards the English and protestants, as well as how she gave her opinion to the students of her school. Mother Benignus’s opinion was that protestants may have been powerful but they certainly were not Irish. This woman was brainwashing her students into learning about the ‘greatness’ of Catholics and Ireland and the ‘wonderful’ history behind it, making them believe that protestants and the English are horrible.

Does Source D Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

Source D is biased therefore comes across as ‘anti-protestant’, there are no other point of views about protestants in this source. Because of this we can not trust B Devlin’s adaptation, it is not reliable; containing more of someone’s opinions rather than factual dates, times or places. The source does tell us that B Devlin adapted this source giving us evidence that she may have taken this source from a school girl but then possibly changed the source to create an even more anti-protestant view therefore making it biased. We know this could be true because B Devlin was a Catholics Civil Rights spokes person. This source shows no violence, however because the students were being brought up with an anti-protestant attitude this could lead to a future violent scene. My opinion is that this source is unreliable there are no dates apart from when it was written, and the source contains no factual proof.

Source E

Source E is a nineteenth century protestant cartoon. It was drawn by a protestant artist. The cartoon shows Erin, the lady of Ireland dressed in rags; she holds her head down as if she is ashamed and also looks upset. Erin has been tied up in rope by the Catholic priest; she is being punished. The Catholic priest is dressed smartly, he looks angry and in control of the situation. This source symbolizes the religious tension between Catholics and Protestants during that time period, giving the effect that Catholics have taken charge of all the churches.

Does Source E Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

This source is biased towards the protestant point of view. The cartoon shows a protestant’s view on how the Catholics treated them, how they took control of all Protestants. They achieve this by giving the effect that protestants are innocent, also that Catholics are rich, evil people who try to make protestant’s lives a misery.

 During the time this source was drawn, Catholics were against Protestants and were ruling Ireland. This source does not contain violence however it could lead to violence

because Catholics would want revenge for the ‘image’ they are known as. I would not trust this source considering that it was drawn by a protestant and effectively tells us that all Catholics are out to get Protestants.

Source F

Source F is a map showing the Gerrymander in 1966. A Gerrymander is to divide an area into election districts in such a way, as to give one political party an electoral advantage. The map tells us that in 1966 the population of Derry was 30376 people; it goes on to tell the reader that 20102 were Catholics and only 10274 were Protestants, telling us that during 1966 Derry was a catholic dominated area.

Does Source F Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

Source F is a reliable piece of information because it is a map. From this we know that all the data that is written, is known as fact. The source uses accurate pieces of data involving numbers of the population and dates, as well as giving us a clear view certain roads in Derry; this includes Strabene Road, Irish Street and Urrivady Road.  Although this map does not show any signs of violence, it is because of sources like this that we understand why there were Catholic protests in 1969, two years after this source was created. The map contains some writing telling us that more Protestants than Catholics became boundary commissioners because most Catholics refused. A piece of the paragraph then says, ‘The boundaries of the constituencies favored Protestants’ this tells us that the Protestants have Gerrymandered the Catholics. I believe because the catholics refused to become boundary commissionaires, this meant that the Protestants took over their jobs making them more powerful. Because of this, Catholics lost the right to vote, be represented or even buy a house. By 1969 Catholics were tired of Protestants having all the power so they wanted Civil Rights.  They showed this by violent and non-violent protests. Concluding my theory this is a truthful source that could lead to violence.

Source G

Source G is a protestant’s view of Catholics attacking Protestants from 1641. The image shows Catholics dressed in clothes carrying swards forcefully pushing the shamed Protestants that have been stripped of all clothing. The scene shows violence, as there are bodies lying on the floor looking as though they are either in great pain or dead. There are some strong words above the picture;  The Catholics are forcing the English Protestants to be Irish ‘turned into the mountains,’ ‘whereof many hundreds are perished,’ The Catholics are testing the Protestants, to analyze whether they are strong enough to become Irish. It goes on to say ‘Now you are wild Irish men as we’ this tells us that the writer believes that Catholics feel so strongly towards their religion that they will do anything for it.

Does Source G Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

This source is unreliable because it is a drawn picture that only shows a biased point of view. However this does give us a possibly exaggerated image of how the Protestants were treated by Catholics. Source G shows violence drawn 330 years before the troubles of 1969. This source could lead to violence because the Protestants may want revenge, and considering that there were many pictures like this one drawn in the 1600’s we have to understand that these images could have been used as propaganda against the Catholics. It is small things like this that helped toward the outbreak in 1969.

Source H

Source H is a photograph of Royal Ulster Constabulary offices trying to take charge of an out of control civil rights march on the 5th of October 1968, in Derry.  The photo shows a couple of Catholics so they may have been the hard to deal with trouble makers who took it too far, but they are shielding their heads and trying to run away whilst the RUC (Protestants) are in charge. From the source we know that the Protestants used violence to stop this march. But were they forced into using violence? Was it the only way they could get to the Catholic protesters? However from the source we are led to understand that the Catholics are weaponless, and that they are not fighting back.

The Catholics have obviously started this march because they are unhappy about the way that they are treated.

Does Source H Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

Because source H is a photograph we know that it is a fact. However from it, like any photos, we have a ‘snapshot’ from only a few seconds of the whole civil rights march we do not know what happened before or after this photograph was taken. Because of this we can only guess why the RUC had to lead to violence. No one is going to understand who started the fight from this source, or why it lead to what looks like horrific violence. From what we know source H contains violence and as it was taken in 1968 just one year before the outbreak in 1969 this source could of definitely lead to violence. I would say that this source is accurate to some extent but because it is just a few moments worth it is still fairly unreliable. In comparison this photograph is pure fact no matter how much information it can give us.

Source I

This source is a photograph of a peaceful civil rights march in 1968. underneath the source it tells us the economic demands of the protestors ‘One house, one man, one job’.  By this time period all Catholics wanted an equal, civilized society. The picture shows police standing calmly as it seems that there is no trouble to be expected. From the source we can see that the march is a well organized non-violent protest.

Does Source I Show Why Violence Broke Out in 1969?

Because this is a photo we know that it is a fact, however this photo contains the very opposite to source H. Although the scene looks like a peaceful civil rights protest it could have stormed into violence at any minute, therefore I cannot trust this source. If this protest was created after the march in source H the conditions would have improved; but personally I believe that Source I was taken before source H. I feel this way because after the Catholics had tried to protest in a peaceful manner they were still not listened to, so they would have got impatient and therefore turned to violence to show that they are serious. My theory would also explain why this source the could of led to the trouble in 1969. This source is accurate yet unreliable because we do not have enough data.


I believe that although not all the sources were entirely reliable, they would all be somewhat useful towards why the troubles broke out in 1969. The only source that I found entirely reliable was source F because it gives us stated facts containing accurate data. Sources H and I are both photographs and although they are both also facts, they contain image proof and dates and to me they show the clearest ideas as to what happened, they are however fairly unreliable because as I mentioned earlier we do not know what happened before or after the photo was taken. Sources D, E and G are all biased, therefore they are not bound to be truthful and are exaggerated facts. Although because of these sources we now know how people were made to think about Protestants and Catholics. We understand that biased points of views were spread about the two different religions as if it were propaganda, this could have also led to some of the violence in 1969. Personally I feel that sources D, E and G show how people have spread thoughts and feelings and brainwashed the rest of the country into civil war, as well as clearly showing the religious tensions that has lead to riots, bombing terrorism and violence. Overall on their own these sources did not give sufficient evidence to tell us why the trouble broke out in 1969, we needed more evidence about why the Easter Rising corrupted. In comparison I feel that when combined the sources are rather reliable.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Northern Ireland 1965-85 section.

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