Northern Ireland, born of a 100-year-old conflict, erupts again with political violence
On April 7, 2021, Northern Ireland protesters burned the Gates of Peace in Belfast. Built in the 1990s, Belfast separated the city’s wartime Protestant and Catholic communities. The Charles McKillan / Getty Images Sectrian Riot is back in the city of Northern Ireland. I’m ashamed of the 100th anniversary of British territory for just a few weeks. Young protesters loyal to British rule, boosted by Britain’s anger at Brexit, police and alienation from Britain, fired at the entire Belfast capital and clashed with police for several nights. .. The score was injured. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for calm, saying, “The way to resolve the difference is not through violence or crime, but through dialogue.” But Northern Ireland was born of violence. The deep division between the two identity groups, broadly defined as Protestant and Catholic, has dominated the country since its inception. Northern Ireland, now upset by Brexit, seems to be moving in a darker and more dangerous direction. Plantations of Ireland With the northernmost tip of Ireland just 13 miles from Britain, the island of Ireland has been competing for territory for at least the 9th century. Britain has long stared at the colonial ambitions for its little Catholic neighbor. The invasion of Anglo Norman in the 12th century brought the first neighboring British to Ireland. Dissatisfied with the continued resistance of Irish indigenous peoples in the late 16th century, Protestant England implemented an aggressive plan to completely colonize Ireland and eradicate Irish Catholicism. Known as a “plantation,” this social engineering exercise “planted” tens of thousands of British and Scottish Protestants in a strategic area of Ireland. Plantations provided settlers with cheap forests and abundant fisheries. In exchange, Britain established a base loyal to the British crown, not the Pope. England’s most ambitious plantation strategy was implemented in Ulster, Ireland’s northernmost state. By 1630, Ulster had about 40,000 English-speaking Protestant settlers, according to the Ulster History Foundation. Despite being exiled, Ulster’s indigenous Irish Catholics did not convert to Protestantism. Instead, two divided hostile communities, each with its own culture, language, political loyalty, religious beliefs, and economic history, shared one region. Who is Ireland? Over the next two centuries, the division of Ulster’s identity turned into a political battle for Ireland’s future. “Unionists” (mostly Protestants) wanted Ireland to remain part of Britain. “Nationalists” (mostly Catholics) wanted Irish autonomy. These battles were fought by political debate, media, sports, pubs, and often street violence. In 1886 British soldiers subdued the riots in Belfast. Halton Archive / Getty Images By the early 1900s, the Irish independence movement was active in southern Ireland. The national struggle for Irish identity only intensified the struggle in Ulster. The British government proposed splitting Ireland into two parts in 1920, hoping to appease the southern nationalists while preserving the interests of the Ulster Unionist Party in the north. Southern Irish nationalists rejected the idea and continued armed campaigns to separate it from Britain. Eventually, in 1922, they gained independence and became the Irish Free State, today called the Republic of Ireland. In Ulster, unionist powers reluctantly accepted partitions as the best alternative to the rest of Britain. In 1920, the Government of Ireland Act created Northern Ireland, the latest member of the United Kingdom. Problematic History In this new country, Irish native Catholics have become a minority, accounting for less than one-third of Northern Ireland’s 1.2 million people. The nationalist stabbed in the partition refused to recognize the British state. Catholic school teachers, backed by church leaders, refused to receive state salaries. And when Northern Ireland was seated in the first parliament in May 1921, nationalist politicians did not take the seats elected by the parliament. The Northern Ireland Assembly became Protestant in nature, and its pro-British leaders pursued a variety of anti-Catholic practices, including discriminating against Catholics in public housing, exercising voting rights, and hiring them. .. By the 1960s, Northern Ireland’s Catholic nationalists had been mobilized to demand more equitable governance. In 1968, police responded violently to the peaceful march and protested the inequality in the allocation of public housing in Delhi, the second largest city in Northern Ireland. In a 60-second unforgettable television image, the world saw a water cannon and a baton-wielding police officer attacking an unprotected march without restraint. On January 30, 1972, during another civil rights movement in Delhi, British soldiers fired at unarmed marches and killed 14 people. This massacre, known as Bloody Sunday, marked a turning point. A non-violent movement for a more comprehensive government has overthrown that government and transformed it into a revolutionary campaign to unify Ireland. The Irish Republican Army, a nationalist paramilitary organization, used bombs to target assassinations and ambush in pursuit of independence from Britain and unity with Ireland. The city of Delhi became a de facto war zone in 1969. Independent News and Media / Getty Images) A long-standing paramilitary organization in collaboration with pro-British political forces responded kindly. These groups, known as Loyalists, colluded with state security forces to defend Northern Ireland’s coalition with Britain. Euphemistically known as “trouble,” the violence killed 3,532 people between 1968 and 1998. Accord. The Good Friday Agreement established a power-sharing arrangement between the two sides and gave the Northern Ireland Assembly more power over internal affairs. The peace agreement made history. However, according to my research on Northern Ireland’s risk and resilience, Northern Ireland remained deeply fragmented by identity politics and paralyzed by dysfunctional governance. Since then, violence has occurred on a regular basis. Protesters and police will face off in Belfast on April 8, 2021. CharlesMcQuillan / Getty Images Then Brexit came out in 2020. Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union through negotiations created a new border in the Irish Sea, and Northern Ireland moved economically from Britain to Ireland. Taking advantage of the instability caused by Brexit, nationalists have renewed their call for a formal referendum on Irish unification. It represents an existential threat to union members who pledge allegiance to Britain. Young Loyalists born in trouble are especially afraid to lose their British identity, which has always belonged to them. Recent street disability cramps suggest that violence protects its identity, if necessary. In some areas, young nationalists are fighting their violence. In that 100-year year, Northern Ireland wobbles on the edge of a painfully familiar cliff. [You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter.]This article has been republished by The Conversation, a non-profit news site aimed at sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by James Waller of Keene State College. Read More: Brexit Refuses Good Friday Agreement for Peace in Northern Ireland From Certain Wars to Uncertain Peace: Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland Turns 20 James Waller is George J. Mitchell Global Peace Security at Queens University in Belfast, a visiting research professor at the Institute of Justice.