The Story of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was declared a republic in 1916 by Patrick Pearse. This was the start of the rebellion against Britain and British rule. The Irish Citizen Army was a socialist group that engaged in conflict with the British along with the Irish Volunteers who were to become the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Ultimately, they were not successful and much of the bitter resentment remained. The Ulster Union members were able to reach an agreement in which some counties were excluded from British rule. Peace was not to remain however, and it was not long before the anger of the population led to renewed fighting and conflict.

War of Independence

The IRA started a conflict in 1919 with the aims of achieving full independence from the UK. This conflict became known as the “War of Independence”. Clashes continued between the IRA and British forces until about 1921 when an uneasy truce was made. In 1922 an Irish Free State was formed due to the treaty agreement. In the northern regions though, the fighting continued. Conflict carried on and off throughout the years and the IRA bombed London. In 1949 The Ireland Act was signed that decreed that the Republic is not a British dominion. However, Northern Ireland was to stay a part of the UK.

The Troubles

Northern Ireland has clearly endured some very disruptive and difficult times. Conflict was ongoing and at one stage during the late 20th century there was much conflict and violence.  This time period became known as the “Troubles” and was a time of intense and bitter fighting in Northern Ireland. This conflict lasted three decades from 1968 to 1998 and really involved a clash between Protestants who wanted to remain with the United Kingdom and the Catholics who wanted independence.

A civil rights march in 1968 was the trigger that started the conflict and the Catholics became increasingly frustrated by the overwhelmingly union Protestant parliament of Northern Ireland. The conflict became very severe with over 3000 people killed and 1000s more injured. At one stage Britain had to intervene in the conflict. Various paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland believed that violence was the only way to achieve their goal. These groups included the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and Ulster Defense Association (UDA). Over 10,000 people were injured during the conflict that occurred over the 30-year war. Britain became embroiled in the conflict as well and in fact there was even a mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991. This attack was the work of the IRA.

An Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was reached and signed in 1985 with the aim to resolve the conflict. However, this agreement did not work since only a few of the organizations and groups in Northern Ireland supported it. Another agreement was reached in 1998 with a sharing of power. However, this did not work out and direct rule had to be implemented again from 2002 until 2007. There are still some disagreements over how Northern Ireland should be governed to this day.