POPULATION 1.9 million (density 339/sq.mi) Michigan=9.9 million (density=174/sq.mi) 30% of the island of Ireland’s population Capital = Belfast Ethnic Composition 99.1% White (with 91.0% Northern Ireland born) ECONOMY After several decades of deindustrialization, economy is making a strong recovery resulting from the “peace dividend” of recent years GOVERNMENT Member of the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and NI) A devolved government within a constitutional monarchy (Elizabeth II) Legislature Northern Ireland Assembly located in Belfast Since Good Friday Agreement (1998) it has been largely self- governing in most internal matters.
Internationally, NI is probably best known as the site of a violent ethnic, sectarian, nationalist, and political conflict – the Troubles – between the nationalists, who see themselves as Irish and are predominately Roman Catholic, and the unionists, who consider themselves British and are predominately Protestant (additionally, there are also people from both sides who consider themselves as Northern Irish) Simply put, the unionists want NI to remain as part of the UK (“ loyalists ”), while the nationalists want NI to reunify with the Republic of Ireland, independent of British rule (“ republicans ”) Since 1998, nearly all of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles (e.g. IRA and UDA) have ceased their armed campaigns.
A Brief History of the Troubles: Early 1600s The Plantation of Ulster refers to the organized colonization of Ulster – a province in northern Ireland– by Protestants from Scotland and England. Private plantation by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while official plantation controlled by the Parliament of Scotland began in 1609. All lands owned by Irish chieftains in Ulster (along with those of their supporters) were confiscated and used to settle the colonists. The counties of Ulster (modern boundaries) that were colonized during the plantations - shaded area
1688 – William of Orange British Protestants invite William of Orange, a Protestant prince from the Netherlands, to rule England and Scotland. When he arrives in Britain James II - the ruling Catholic king - is deposed and flees to Ireland. In 1690 William defeats James at the Battle of the Boyne, in north-eastern Ireland (present-day North Ireland) after battle the Protestants who fought alongside William are known as Orangemen. The battle is commemorated every July 12 with Orange marches. Battle of the Boyne (12 July 1690)
1690 – a system of Protestant English rule is imposed which is designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters This system extended again during the 18 th C. and parts of it continued up to 1998. 1801 – Act of Union the entire island of Ireland becomes part of UK 1905 – Sinn Féin political party is established by Catholics with the intention of freeing Ireland from British rule 1913 – Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) a paramilitary group created by Protestants who oppose the concept of Irish Home Rule.
1916 – The Easter Uprising, April 24 Political and sectarian conflict over whether Ireland should remain part of the UK culminates in the Easter Uprising, when Irish Catholics seize strategic buildings in Dublin, notably the general post office. An est. 20,000 British soldiers enter the city and fire on the rebels. The fighting lasts for five days and the rebels are forced to surrender. Seventy are sentenced to death and 15 are executed, fuelling support for Sinn Féin – the political party representing the nationalist cause. Catholic rebels become known as the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
1919-1922 – War of Independence & the Partitioning of the Ireland Following the Easter Rising, Sinn Féin won a majority of seats in Ireland and set up the First Dáil (Irish Parliament) in Dublin. Ireland essentially seceded from the UK. The Irish War for Independence followed, leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State. In Ulster, however, and particularly in the six counties which became Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin fared poorly in the 1918 election, and Unionists won a strong majority.
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 partitioned the island of Ireland into two separate jurisdictions, Southern Ireland (comprising the 26 southern counties – each with a Catholic majority) and Northern Ireland (comprising the 6 Ulster counties – each with a Protestant majority), both as devolved regions of the United Kingdom. This partition of Ireland was confirmed when the Parliament of Northern Ireland exercised its right in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 to opt out of the newly established Irish Free State. Violence escalates as Catholics oppose partition.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty provided for a self- governing Irish state in the south, having its own army and police. However, rather than creating the independent republic, which was favored by nationalists, the Irish Free State would be an “autonomous dominion of the British Empire” with the British monarch as head of state, in the same manner as Canada and Australia.
1922-26 - The Irish Civil War waged between two opposing groups of Irish nationalists: the forces of the "Provisional Government" that established the Free State in December 1922, who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and the Republican opposition, for whom the Treaty represented a betrayal of the Irish Republic. The war was won by the Free State forces. The Civil War claimed more lives than the War of Independence against Britain that preceded it, and left Irish society further divided and embittered. National Army soldiers during the Civil War
1948 - Irish Free State is granted full independence from Britain and formally becomes the Republic of Ireland.
1967 – the 19 th C. anti-Catholic laws remain on the books as a result of the Northern Ireland parliament being dominated by Protestant unionists. NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) is formed with the aim acquiring full political rights for Catholics in NI. 1968 – Duke Street March – a demonstration by NICRA is attacked by the police, or the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). RUC is comprised entirely of Protestants.
1969: The Troubles in Northern Ireland RUC attacks a Catholic civil rights march, at Burntollet, outside Derry/Londonderry in January. Widespread violence erupted after unionists march through the Catholic nationalist Bogside area of Derry/Londonderry on 12 August. RUC is overwhelmed by the violence and the British Army is called in to keep the peace. Frustrated by what they see as the passivity of the IRA's leadership, some members form a new group, which they call the Provisional IRA (PIRA).
1971-72: Internment and Bloody Sunday Nearly 2,000 people are interned and held without trial, in a bid to prevent further attacks on British troops. After internment is introduced, in August 1971, violent protests follow that leave 17 dead. The move increases support for the IRA. On Jan 30, 1972 British soldiers kill 14 and injure 14 others during a civil rights march in Derry/Londonderry against internment in what will become known as Bloody Sunday. Thousands of people join the IRA. Amid increasing violence, the Stormont Parliament in Belfast is suspended and Northern Ireland is ruled directly from London. Mural by Bogside Artists depicting all who were killed by British soldiers
Nov-Dec 1974: The Birmingham bombings Twenty-one people are killed in November when the IRA bombs two pubs in the city of Birmingham. The British government responds by introducing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows suspects to be held without charge for up to seven days. A bomb also explodes at the House of Commons in London, injuring 11 people. In December, the IRA calls a ceasefire in the belief that the British are about to pull out of Northern Ireland. However, armed violence soon resumes.
The 1980s: Hunger Strikes Bobby Sands (IRA leader held at the Maze prison) dies after refusing food for 66 days. Nine others die of starvation between May 12 and August 20 1981. Many believe them to be martyrs to the struggle for independence. An est. 10,000 people attend Bobby Sands' funeral. Support for Sinn Fein increases rapidly.
1993-94: Independence declared & another ceasefire British government issues a declaration that the people of Northern Ireland should be free to decide their own future. Sinn Fein is offered a seat in parliament as long as IRA violence ends. The IRA declares a complete cessation of military activities on August 31 1994.
July 1995 - Riots over Marches Violent protests spread across Northern Ireland when police block a key Orange Order parade near Portadown, an Orange stronghold. Police back down after four nights of Protestant riots across Northern Ireland The parade passes through Portadown's main Catholic district, triggering three nights of Catholic riots and IRA gun attacks.
February 9 1996: Ceasefire collapses The IRA bombs London’s Canary Wharf after the British government insists that decommissioning of paramilitary organizations occurs as a precondition of talks on NI’s future. Two people are killed and millions of pounds worth of damage is caused.
July 1997 - Ceasefire Restored The IRA announces another ceasefire, allowing Sinn Féin to join multi-party talks. Talks are hindered by paramilitary killings on both sides, but they continue until April 1998. April 1998 - The Good Friday Agreement An agreement on NI governance is finally reached. It includes a devolved parliament and a role for the Republic of Ireland in Northern Ireland affairs. Many Unionists oppose the deal as giving too much power to Catholics.
July-August 1998 -Violence Continues Britain grants a Catholic-Protestant commission new powers to restrict Protestant parades Police and British troops in July block Portadown's Orangemen, who abandon a week-long standoff only after three young Catholic brothers are killed in an arson attack. On August 15 a car bomb kills 29 people in Omagh. The Real IRA, a breakaway group, claims responsibility. 2001 - RUC is replaced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which is comprised of ½ Catholic and ½ Protestant officers.
2005 The IRA and PIRA announce that they have formally abandoned their armed campaigns. A UVF mural in Belfast
2005 September 5 - A UVF-directed mob on Shankill attacks police again following more police raids. September 10 - Rioting erupts at several Orange protests at key roads and intersections and on the main highway running through Belfast. Orangemen and supporters scuffle in streets with police backed by British troops. Up to 50 police officers are wounded in two nights of rioting.
2011 - Tommy English a politician and former commander in the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) was killed by what are believed to be members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as part of a loyalist feud between the two organizations. In Sept. ten men were put on trial for the murder of English based on testimony from an informant (or “Supergrass”) However, nine were acquitted of all charges, while the tenth was convicted only of "possessing items intended for terrorism". Following the acquittals, loyalists riots ensued threatening actions against the informant who was involved in a number of UVF murders in north Belfast in the 1980s.
“Five Minutes of Heaven” Impressions? Parallels to USA’s conflicts over civil rights? What does it take to reconcile two people who have hurt each other so badly? “ Some Mother’s Son ” Impressions?