The Conflict in Northern Ireland Essay

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The Conflict in Northern Ireland

The conflict in Northern Ireland is in many ways a paradox. The region has adequate resources and, although it has been a rather marginal area of the British Isles, is nonetheless quite affluent compared to most of the rest of the world. The people are invariably described as friendly and hospitable and to outsiders they seem to form a homogeneous community. The United Kingdom, of which Northern Ireland is a part, is a functioning democracy where it might be argued there is no need for violence in order to bring about political change. What kind of problem can make people with this background engage in a thirty-year violent struggle against their neighbors and produce some of the most effective
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In the early years of the twentieth century the demands for independence became overwhelming following the Easter rising of 1916. In 1921, after a nationalist revolt, the major part of the island became a separate state under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. This confirmed the partition of Ireland into the largely Catholic Irish Free State and Northern Ireland where the majority Protestant community wished to remain part of the United Kingdom. Until recently, colonial history continued to influence the attitudes of the English and the Irish towards each other and to dominate relationships between the two governments. At the extremes of these intercultural relations the English displayed an underlying sense of superiority towards the Irish, who in turn struggled to overcome a sense of inferiority and impotence at their inability to prevent the partition of the island.

Over the centuries the communities living in the northern part of Ireland have found it difficult to coexist. Suspicion and hostility have been a significant feature of their inter-communal relationships. Although there are many examples of co-operation and good neighborliness, mutual distrust has fed the conflict and in turn provided numerous experiences of hurt and grievance, which have reinforced hostilities. The two communities are distinct in their backgrounds and in their religious and cultural

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