Since I should not assume that everyone here is informed about the nature of the conflict in Northern Ireland, I will give you a quick history lesson. Although the death toll fell from 1972 to 1973 (480 to 255) it remained high throughout the 1970s, with over 2,000 having died by the end of the decade. This fighting left eight dead and almost 800 injured. In November of that year an agreement was signed between the major political parties (nationalist SDLP and the Unionist Party) in Northern Ireland, known as the Sunningdale Agreement. For nearly four decades now it has embittered relations between and within the communities living there and spoiled relations between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain, while also causing severe strains within the latter. Statistics are hard to come by but estimates of the total number of republicans imprisoned over the conflict amounts to 15,000 and estimates of loyalists imprisoned range from 5 to 12,000. Yet reminders of the Troubles still scar the majestic landscape and busy urban areas of Northern Ireland. It included an armed insurgency against the state by elements of the Catholic or nationalist population, principally waged by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) , though it also included other republican factions, with the aim of creating a united independent Ireland. The ‘Troubles’ were less bloody than the previous conflict (1916-23) in 20th century Ireland but much bloodier than any other internal conflict in Western Europe since 1945. The majority of the population of Northern Ireland support unification with Britain. In the mid-1970s, the IRA exported its fight against the British to Britain itself, where volunteers bombed military facilities, infrastructure, financial areas and even shopping districts. In only three years (1981,1982 and 1988) was the death toll over 100 and in 1985 there were only 57 deaths due to the conflict (see here). In the latest in our series of overviews, a summary of ‘The Troubles’, by John Dorney. There were also serious problems with the use of rubber and plastic bullets to control riots, the deployment of which was responsible for 16 deaths, mostly Catholics, and many more injuries. In the late 1700s, rising Irish nationalism called for greater autonomy for the Irish parliament. Just a few feet from where British soldiers gunned down civilians in 1972, the Museum of Free Derry houses images and artefacts of the early years of the Troubles. Catholics now form an almost equal proportion of the population to Protestants. The two week strike caused the Unionist Party to pull out of the Agreement, making it null and void. In April 1916, Republicans launched the famous Easter Rising, capturing the post office in Dublin and proclaiming an independent Irish republic. The RUC police force was disbanded and replaced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland which had had quotas for the proportion of Catholic officers. At the same time Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP as the nationalist party with the largest vote. This provoked a grim struggle within the prisons. The British military later characterised the ongoing IRA campaign as a move from ‘insurgency’ to ‘terrorism’, meaning that their actions henceforth were typically smaller scale and clandestine. In Belfast, the rioting developed into street fighting between Catholics and Protestants during which an entire Catholic street – Bombay Street – was burned out. Three Provisional IRA members were killed while preparing a bomb in Gibraltor in 1988. The IRA also continued to attack targets in Britain and further afield, attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Brighton in 1984 for example and blowing up 11 British soldiers on parade in London as well as Harrods department store. Loyalist groups also proliferated in the early 1970s with many Protestant neighbourhoods setting up paramilitary and vigilante groups. It left out three Ulster counties with large Catholic and nationalist majorities (Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan) but included two counties, Fermanagh and Tyrone with slight nationalist majorities. For instance at the Loughall ambush in 1987 an IRA ‘active service unit’ of 8 men was wiped out. URL: “Time of trouble such as never was” Daniel spoke of this latter fulfillment, saying, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. From January 1975 to January 1976 the IRA was persuaded by the British government to call another ceasefire. From 1922 until 1972, Northern Ireland functioned as a self-governing region of the United Kingdom. Paramilitary prisoners (about 450 people) who were affiliated to political parties which had signed up the Good Friday Agreement were all released in 1998. In 1966 elements of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, radical left groups and the Republican Clubs founded the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. This period, euphemistically known as the Troubles, would span more than 30 years and claim thousands of lives, both military and civilian. Loyalist groups also engaged in a number of internecine feuds, resulting in about 40 deaths up the mid 2000s. It is widely considered that nationalists gained more from the peace process than unionists, as the unionist character of Northern Ireland was undermined, strict majority rule abolished and discrimination against Catholics reversed by quotas. systematic discrimination in Northern Ireland, when a large quantity of guns, explosives and ammunition were destroyed, 2014 arrest of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for the murder of Jean McConville, Today in Irish History, The Burning of the Custom House, 25 May 1921, Scrapping: The Early Years – Dublin Boxing in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, The British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638-1660. Crown forces in the 1980s generally became much more careful to avoid killing civilians than in the preceding decade. Separation from Dublin did not end Northern Ireland’s sectarian problems. The troubles refers to the political conflicts in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998. Their aim was to end the discrimination against Catholics within Northern Ireland. To understand the Northern Ireland conflict, you need to know a little history. Concurrently loyalist killings also spiralled. The RUC also fired heavy machine gun rounds at the mainly Catholic Divis Towers flat complex killing a young boy. By 1968, Irish police forcefully put down a peaceful protest, leading to more protests, riots, and fighting back against the establishment. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, the country’s first significant independence movement, was formed in 1858. Currently Sinn Fein and the DUP share power in a restored Northern Ireland Authority. In 1973-74 the British Government tried to set up a power-sharing Agreement between unionists and nationalists. The violence of the ‘Troubles’ is still open to partisan interpretation. The violence never reached the most common currently agreed threshold of a ‘war’ – over 1,000 deaths in a year. Loyalist violence lulled in the early 1980s but picked up again after the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, in which the British government agreed to give the Irish government a consultative role in Northern Ireland. Publisher: Alpha History In 1976 internment without trial was ended but convicted paramilitaries were treated as ordinary criminals. Arrayed against the IRA were a range of state forces –the Royal Ulster Constabulary or RUC, the regular British Army and a locally recruited Army unit, the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). A further 236 deaths could not be confidently attributed to any party (the IRA, loyalist, rioters, undercover Crown forces). The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Despite these enormous challenges, many worked strenuously to find some common ground, compromise and resolution. There were talks between Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume and privately between republicans and the British and Irish governments. Most of the nation’s Catholics lived as poor tenant-farmers. In response the Northern Ireland government introduced internment without trial – imprisoning 2,000 people between 1971 and 1975, over 90% of whom were republicans and less than 10% loyalists. They never managed it and were faced with numerous rebellions.After some decisive victories over the Irish lords in the early 17th century, James I of England tried to solve the problem once and for all by moving the Catholic Irish off their lands and replacing them with Protestant settlers from England a… By 1972 both of these groups and others were killing significant numbers of Catholic civilians. Despite this, far fewer loyalist than republican militants were imprisoned. Political violence in Northern Ireland throughout the 1980s remained at a lower level however than in the 1970s. The series revolves around the resolution of the crises caused when a characters' Troubles are triggered, usually by emotional stress. In addition to Bloody Sunday, its treatment of the nationalist population was often very violent – killing 170 people, many of them civilians, from 1971 to 1974. Gordon Gillespie, historian. Repressive and discriminatory Penal Laws kept Catholics out of education, prestigious professions and government. There was also a lack of official recognition of Irish nationality in Northern Ireland. There was an ineffective, mostly southern-based IRA guerrilla campaign against Northern Ireland from 1956 to 1962, but with little nationalist support within the North and faced with internment on both sides of the border, it achieved little. This was a period of political instability and conflict as a result of the two separate ideologies in Northern Ireland fighting for their particular ideology. Northern Ireland’s future remains uncertain. Belfast, where once only the bravest traveller might have ventured, now hums and bustles with tourists. The Irish language and Irish history were not taught in state schools. By 1969, the Provisional IRA (PIRA) was formed, a breakaway f… The Hunger Strikes ended up reviving the IRA’s flagging support in the nationalist community and across Ireland. There were however many allegations of targeted killings of IRA fighters – a so called ‘shoot to kill’ policy. The IRA and loyalists called ceasefires in 1994. However no political progress ensued and this had little appreciable effect on the level of political violence as republicans still killed 125 people and simply meant that IRA attacks were usually claimed with adopted names. The Agreement was passed by referendum in Northern Ireland and a concurrent referendum in the Republic accepted the deletion of the claim to Northern Ireland from the constitution. Protracted firefights were common. The British Army’s relationship with the nationalist population quickly soured as a result of its efforts to disarm republican paramilitaries – notably the Falls Curfew of July 1970 in which it cordoned off the Lower Falls area of Belfast, engaging in several hours of gun battles with the Official IRA, killing four civilians and clouding the area in tear gas. For more information, visit Alpha History or our Terms of Use. The Troubles, also called Northern Ireland conflict, violent sectarian conflict from about 1968 to 1998 in Northern Ireland between the overwhelmingly Protestant unionists (loyalists), who desired the province to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nationalists (republicans), who wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the republic of Ireland. Impoverished Irish Catholics suffered tremendously during the Great Famine of the 1840s. However it was the Provisionals who would go on to dominate. There would be no further internal political agreements until 1998. Despite importing significant quantities of heavy weapons from Libya in the mid-1980s, the IRA was able only to modestly increase the intensity of their campaign by the end of the decade. [See Terror in Ireland, p153-154], [3] The Basque conflict caused the deaths of about 1,000 people from 1968 to 2010, roughly 800 killed by the separatist organisation ETA and roughly 2-300 by Spanish state forces, in an area with a comparable population to Northern Ireland. However the Official IRA called a ceasefire in May 1972, leaving the title of the IRA mainly to the Provisionals. But it was 2007 before the parties could agree on a stable programme for self-government. [2] However compared to comparable low intensity conflicts in Western Europe in the late twentieth century, such as the Basque Conflict, the Northern Ireland conflict was much bloodier.[3]. In the initial sweep no loyalists at all were detained. It was re-established in May of that year but remained fragile and collapsed again in 2002. On the other side of the line, Unionists interpreted the civil rights movement as a threat to their heritage, privileged position and political dominance. Although the Troubles mostly took place in Northern Ireland, at times the violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England, and mainland Europe. In August, rioting in Derry exploded into a fully-fledged street war – the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ – between Nationalists, Loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland were given their own parliament, executive government and judiciary. Yet another source of violence was spasmodic feuding between the rival republican factions. However, as in the 1970s most of their victims were unarmed Catholics. A Brief History of “The Troubles” Brendan McAllister, founding director of Mediation Northern Ireland, also attended EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute in 1996 and ’98. Unlike previous IRA campaigns internment was not introduced in the Republic of Ireland, leading unionists to allege that the southern state sympathised with republican paramilitaries. Bombings of civilian targets, particularly the Enniskillen bomb of 1987 in which 12 Protestants attending a war memorial service were killed, also damaged their popular support. On January 30th 1972, British paratroopers opened fire on civilian protesters in Derry, killing 14 civilians. State forces were responsible for 368 deaths (including 6 by Irish state forces) and loyalists for over 1,000. The loyalist paramilitaries also became increasingly indiscriminate in the period 1974-1976 in which they killed over 370 Catholic civilians. Date published: September 10, 2020 Republican paramilitaries killed significantly more people than any other actor (some 2,000 of the 3,500 deaths). Just a year later, the United Kingdom had to send soldiers to keep Northern Ireland peaceful. This led to increasingly bitter rioting between the Catholic population, especially in Derry, and the RUC. The formation of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in 1967 gave this movement organisation and leadership. They also took to bombing British cities. The London government tried to defuse nationalist militancy with a series of reforms of Northern Ireland. The first significant violence of the Troubles erupted in Bogside, Derry in 1969. The Northern Ireland conflict was a thirty year bout of political violence, low intensity armed conflict and political deadlock within the six north-eastern counties of Ireland that formed part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It triggered a crisis in the north-east, where Unionists formed a paramilitary group (the Ulster Volunteers) and threatened to take up arms to resist Home Rule. In Western countries like the United States, South Africa and Australia, racial and religious minorities were mobilising and crying out for rights and equality. for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" (KJV). It was immediately deferred, however, due to the outbreak of World War I. Caught in the middle was the British government, eager for reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland but unsure how to achieve them. Support for Irish unity among Protestants is very low – at about 4%. Belfast endured 40 years of virtual war, known as The Troubles. Compared to the earlier conflict in 20th century Ireland (1916-1923) the violence was somewhat less intense. Derry, once an anarchic place wracked by violent riots, is now a UK City of Culture. They were to be housed, not in the Prisoner-of War type camp at Long Kesh but a purpose built prison – the Maze – situated next door. As a result, two disparate populations, with differing interests, found themselves living in a small island side by side. Two more hunger strikers were voted into the Irish Dail. The Stevens Enquiry report of 2003 stated that it had found evidence of high level collusion between state forces including police, army and intelligence and loyalist groups. Their strategy was to try to undermine the IRA’s claim that they were fighting a war of national liberation by two means. The other faction, known as the Officials favoured building a left wing political party and fostering unity among the Catholic and Protestant working class before attempting to achieve a united Ireland. Cross border bodies were established but the Republic gave up its territorial claim to Northern Ireland. Political violence went on throughout the 1980s but in spite of the IRA’s attempts to up its intensity, never reached the levels of the 1970s. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "irregular war" or "low-level war". But there were too many compromises in the Good Friday Agreement for it to please everyone. Various ‘dissident’ groups have attempted to mount armed campaigns to the present day. The Unionist Party formed the government, located at Stormont, outside Belfast, for all of these years. Origins. Their voting strength was diluted by ‘gerrymandering’ –where Catholics were grouped in one constituency so they would elect a smaller number of representatives in proportion to their numbers. In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Loyalist paramilitary roadblocks  on all main roads prevented even those who did not support them from going to work. Loyalists too formed paramilitary groups to protect their communities and suppress Catholic and Nationalist discontent. The Provisionals believed they were on the verge of victory by the summer of 1972, or at any rate British withdrawal, when the British government opened direct talks with the IRA leadership. To outsiders, the Troubles in Northern Ireland appeared a sectarian quagmire, a horrific media parade of bombings, civilian casualties, bloodthirsty assassinations, retaliatory killings and destructive riots. This led to sustained protest by republican (and initially, some loyalist) prisoners for political status. Loyalist violence’s stated aim was to halt republican violence against the state but in practice their main target was Catholic civilians. This massacre gave massive impetus to militant republicans. The IRA in Belfast and Derry never regained the momentum they had had in the previous decade and were heavily infiltrated by informers. [1] In which ‘Both the Official and Provisional wings of the Irish Republican Army (OIRA and PIRA) fought the security forces in more-or-less formed bodies. The conflict period damaged its economy greatly and also coincided with de-industrialisation in Western Europe which decimated its ship-building and linen industries. Their actions produced the deaths of more than 3,500 people, many of them civilians and innocent children caught in the crossfire. The central plank of the Agreement was that the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would be decided only by the democratic vote of its inhabitants -known as the ‘consent principle’ – but that people from Northern Ireland would be entitled to both British and Irish citizenship. Their strategy was popularly known as the ‘Ballot Box and Armalite’ strategy after a speech by Danny Morrison. Bloody Sunday, as it became known, caused outrage across Ireland and indeed the world. Home Rule was bitterly opposed by Anglo-Irish Protestants, however, most of whom were clustered in the north-east in what they called Ulster. In the earlier period roughly 4-5,000 died over an 8 year period and almost all but the 500 who died in Easter week 1916, died between 1920 and 1923, Moreover in the earlier period British state forces killed significantly more civilians than non-state forces, a pattern that was reversed in the Northern Ireland conflict. In 1973 a major effort was made by the British government to find a political solution to the conflict. Trouble had, in fact, been brewing in Northern Ireland for generations. Though not the principle focus of their campaign, republicans also killed significant numbers of Protestant civilians. In August 1969, the UK government sent troops to impose control. However no political agreement was reached – the IRA proposed no terms other than a united Ireland – and, after a standoff with the British Army and loyalists in the Lenadoon area of Belfast flared up into violence, the ceasefire was called off. O’Neill also proposed reforms within Northern Ireland. Date accessed: December 11, 2020 In response the British Army began dismantling its fortified bases across Northern Ireland and withdrawing from active deployment there. The IRA called a ceasefire in 1994, followed shortly afterwards by the loyalist groups, leading to multi-party talks about the future of Northern Ireland. Republican groups killed 88 Protestants civilians in the same period. Throughout the 1980s the conflict sputtered on. Northern Ireland’s future remains ambiguous. Most Unionists and Nationalists set aside their domestic concerns to concentrate on the war against Germany – but radical Republicans, impatient with the lack of political change in Ireland, decided to act. Even those opposed to violence, such as the SDLP, walked out of the Stormont Parliament and led their supporters in a rent and rates strike. Two governments are vying for control of Libya. The organisation’s rural units in places such as South Armagh and Tyrone took on a greater importance through their continued ability to attack British forces with weapons such as mortars, improvised mines and heavy machine guns. The riots marked a watershed. ‘, [2] In 1919-21 the IRA was responsible for 281 of the 898 civilian fatalities, with British forces being responsible for 381. In 1971, the secretive and well-drilled Provisional IRA declared war on British soldiers and RUC officers, doing its best to drive out the British and make Northern Ireland ungovernable. Despite this, Home Rule legislation was passed in September 1914. The IRA broke its ceasefire in 1996 with a massive bomb in London, as a result of Sinn Fein not being allowed into negotiations before the IRA gave up its weapons. Their actions included pub bombings such as the McGurk pub bombing in 1971 in which 15 were killed and the abduction and shooting of random Catholics. In the late 1970s, the British government, despairing of a political settlement, tried to find a security solution to reduce political violence to ‘an acceptable level’ in the words of one Northern Secretary. After the Unionist Party voted to ratify power sharing with nationalists in May 1974, mass protest rallies were organised Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party and Vanguard led by William Craig. The second strand was ending internment without trial – viewed to have been a public relations disaster – in 1976, and phasing in non-jury trials for paramilitaries. The B Specials (auxiliary police in theory but in practice a unionist militia) were disbanded, electoral boundaries were redrawn to reflect Catholic numbers and housing and employment executives were set up to deal with discrimination. Copyright: The content on this page may not be republished without our express permission. Importing large amounts of semtex explosive enabled them to detonate massively destructive bombs in commercial districts of London in the 1990s. The aim was to have no ‘political’ prisoners but only prisoners convicted of criminal offences. The old unionist dominated Northern Ireland has been swept away but it is far from clear what the long term future of the region will be. On the other side, Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority had endured decades of political and economic marginalisation. ( Irish: Na Trioblóidí ) was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland s. Some cases aided by British Army and Celtic charm National Liberation Army INLA... There was widespread rioting in August 1969 the earlier conflict in Northern Ireland comprised six north eastern counties Ireland... 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