For centuries in Northern Ireland there has been conflicts, mainly as a result of religious and political tension. More recently, dispute and conflict has occurred as a result of disagreement over the nature of Northern Ireland’s relationship with the UK and whether they should remain part of it. The Protestant Unionist community feel it should remain part of it whilst other, mainly being the National Catholic community want to leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland.
In 1969 there was a lot of unrest and violence as a result of Catholic civil rights marches and counter-protests by Protestant loyalists – loyalists meaning those being ‘loyal’ to the british crown and the UK. This conflict meant that help was needed, so British troops were sent over to Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, these troops soon came into conflict with the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army). As the situation worsened, Northern Ireland’s parliament was suspended and direct rule imposed from London.
As the years went by, right into the early 1990s, paramilitary groups waged violent campaigns to pursue their goals. The IRA carried out deadly bomb and gun attacks in Britain and Northern Ireland that targeted police, soldiers, politicians and civilians. Loyalist paramilitaries targeted Catholics in “tit-for-tat” killings. Police and British forces tried to keep order, sometimes amid controversy, such as the alleged co-operation of some undercover units with loyalist groups.
After a lot of negotiation and discussion, IRA and loyalist ceasefires held and in 1998 the “Good Friday” agreement was signed. This agreement was to set up a power-sharing executive as to neutralise the chance of a dictatorship and prevent further violence. A referendum vote, by the people of Northern Ireland, made the agreement legitimate as it had the public support to go ahead.
Problems remain as devolution has been suspended several times since it began and violence seems to exist, although not as often as it had been in the past. On January 5th 2013 disruption and violence has occurred in Belfast over the decision to fly the union flag only on designated days. About 100 loyalists attacked officers with bricks, bottles, fireworks and smoke canisters and a 38-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Some loyalist even claimed that the attacks were provoked by republicans. To date, more than 40 police officers have been hurt, several politicians have received death threats and homes and property have been damaged.
When the issues in Northern Ireland end? Or are the troubles already over? Leave your opinion below.
Thanks for reading,