Since 1972 the British Government has tried a number of solutions to the crisis in Northern Irelan

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Last updated: November 9, 2019

The crisis in Northern Ireland is about two sides trying to get their point across in whatever way they can. On one side you have the Catholics (Nationalists or Republicans), one religion that wants a united Ireland free of British rule. But there are many different categories of this side and they each have different ways of achieving their goal. Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA, a paramilitary organisation that has used violence on many occasions to cease the British rule in Northern Ireland. Another political party is the SDLP (Social Democratic Labour Party), they too want a united Ireland but are opposed to IRA violence.

On the other side of this argument we have the Protestants (Unionists or Loyalists), who want to continue being ruled by Britain. Two Protestant political parties are the UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). The UUP are the most powerful Protestant party. They, like the SDLP are opposed to violence. The Rev.

Ian Paisley founded the DUP in 1971; they are not opposed to violence but will not condemn it. The Ulster Democratic Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force are the main Protestant paramilitary groups; they were set up in the early 70’s to oppose IRA violence.In order to answer the question however, we need to study the background of NorthernIrelands History and the beginning of the troubles. In 1968 northern Irish Catholics started aCivil rights march, inspired by Martin Luther King in America and French University students.

They marched to Derry in order to complain about poor housing, unemployment, voting rights and equality. This was disapproved by the mainly Protestant government as they regarded Catholics as second-class citizens and were not prepared to share power and equality with them. As a result the marches became more frequent and was met with intensified violence from the Loyalists.This culminated in perhaps the blackest day in Northern Ireland’s history, Bloody Sunday. Spurned on by the introduction of internment (imprisonment without trial) the Nationalists organised a march to oppose it as internees were treated badly. The protest was peaceful until banners and stones were thrown by the gathering Loyalist crowd. At the end of the day 13 Catholic civilians lay dead. The British government still remains adamant that the civilians were armed.

The failure of Stormont (the Northern Irish Government) to introduce peace resulted in the British Prime Minister Ted Heath introducing Direct Rule in March 1972. This meant the affairs of Northern Ireland would be run from London. The prospect of British rule infuriated the IRA and in retaliation they began a bombing campaign on mainland Britain. The Protestants also weren’t happy with the introduction, as it meant the Catholics would get more power in an attempt by the Government to instigate peace.

The Sunningdale Agreement was the first step to a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland between the warring sides. Both the British and Irish governments and also the leaders of the power-sharing parties signed this agreement. It was quite close to peace as the Catholics were pleased at the prospect of equality in Parliament but the Protestants opposed it because they didn’t want a power share. The agreement ended when the Ulster Workers Council called a general strike until the agreement was lifted as a result, this peace attempt collapsed so therefore wasn’t very close to peace.In 1985 the British and Irish governments signed the Anglo-Irish agreement.

It said that both governments would meet on a regular basis to discuss matters concerning Northern Ireland. The Catholics thought this was a good idea as they were still aiming for equality but the Protestants became seriously opposed to the move and to Britain’s cooperation with Ireland as it meant they had little or no control over their own affairs, even though others thought it as a stepping stone to a more permanent solution.In 1993, John Major the British Prime Minister and Albert Reynolds the Irish President issued the Downing Street Declaration.

This said that the people of Northern Ireland should decide their own future and the IRA should end violence. The Republicans didn’t welcome this because the IRA didn’t want to end violence but during a visit to America, Gerry Adams announced a ceasefire. The Loyalists also declared a ceasefire on 13th October. This made a huge impact on the peace process because the Loyalist ceasefire was dependant on the IRA’s and continued for 3 years until the IRA bombed Canary Wharf in 1996.1999 was the year a second power-sharing executive should have been set up, but due to an Ulster Unionist boycott based on their intense dislike of sharing power with the Catholics this failed and caused Seamus Mallon to resign.

The Catholics wanted this power-sharing executive, as it would have given them equality in their own land. In November the UUP agreed to take part in government if the IRA was decommissioned by 2000. On 1st December Direct Rule ended and power was transferred to the Northern Ireland assembly. This started peace because both sides had agreed on the vote and the decommissioning of the IRA meant everyone was happy.a) Gerry Adams would call himself a Nationalist because he is the leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. Seamus Mallon would also call himself a Nationalist, as he was the leader of the SDLP.b) David Trimble would call himself a Unionist because he is the leader of the UUP, a party that defends the rights of Northern Protestants.

The Rev. Ian Paisley would also call himself a Unionist because throughout the troubles he has expressed his hatred of the Catholics.c) Seamus Mallon is referring to the Good Friday Agreement because he felt the people of Northern Ireland should rule themselves, not ruled by one person.d) David Trimble is referring to the IRA as a “fully armed terrorist organisation”e) The connection between the events of 1999 and 1974 is that they are both years a power sharing agreement should have been set up in Northern Ireland. Both of these attempts failed because on both occasions the Ulster Workers Council called a general strike because they were unhappy with the prospect of sharing power with the Catholics.f) When the Rev. Ian Paisley said the IRA would live the rest of their lives in shame I think he was referring to the Omagh bombing.

This happened on 15th August 1998. 29 people were killed and 220 injured when the IRA gave a warning they were to detonate a bomb but gave incorrect directions so the police led evacuees straight into the bombsite, it was a needless tragedy that touched so many people’s lives so Ian Paisley condemned it as his view throughout the troubles was the Catholics were responsible for everything. The Catholics would be in two minds about the bombing, peace-loving Catholics would be mortified at the atrocity but the IRA wouldn’t feel guilty as they regarded the conflict as a war, and in war there are needless casualties.

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