History of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom,[1][2] although it is also described by official sources as a province.[3] or a region[4]), situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. It was created as a separate legal entity on 3 May 1921, under the Government of Ireland Act 1920.[5] The new autonomous Northern Ireland was formed from six of the nine counties of Ulster: four counties with unionist majorities and two counties, Fermanagh and Tyrone, which had slight Irish nationalist majorities (of 53.6 and 54.6 per cent respectively in the 1918 election).[6] The remaining three Ulster counties with larger nationalist majorities were not included. In large part unionists, at least in the north-east, supported its creation while nationalists were opposed.

Resistance to Home Rule

From the late 19th century, the majority of people living in Ireland wanted the British government to grant some form of self-rule to Ireland. The Irish Nationalist Party sometimes held the balance of power in the House of Commons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a position from which it sought to gain Home Rule, which would have given Ireland autonomy in internal affairs, without breaking up the United Kingdom. Two bills granting Home Rule to Ireland were passed by the House of Commons in 1886 and 1893, but rejected by the House of Lords. With the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 by the Liberal Party government (which reduced the powers of the Lords from striking down parliamentary Bills to delaying their implementation for two years) it was apparent that Home Rule would probably come into force in the next five years. The Home Rule Party had been campaigning for this for almost fifty years.

However, a significant minority was vehemently opposed to the idea and wished to retain the Union in its existing form. Irish unionists had been agitating successfully against Home Rule since the 1880s, and on 28 September 1912, the leader of the northern unionists, Edward Carson, introduced the Ulster Covenant in Belfast, pledging to exclude Ulster from home rule. The Covenant was signed by 450,000 men. Whilst precipitating a split with unionists in the south and west (including a particularly sizeable community in Dublin), it gave the northern unionists a feasible goal to aim for.

By the early 20th century, Belfast, the largest city in Ulster, had become the largest city in Ireland. Its industrial economy, with strong engineering and shipbuilding sectors, was closely integrated with that of Great Britain. Belfast was a substantially Ulster Protestant town with a Catholic minority of less than 30 per cent, concentrated in the west of the city.

A third Home Rule Bill was introduced by the Liberal minority government in 1912. However, the Conservative Party was sympathetic to the unionist case, and the political voice of unionism was strong in Parliament. After heavy amendment by the House of Lords, the Commons agreed in 1914 to allow four counties of Ulster to vote themselves out of its provisions and then only for six years. Throughout 1913 and 1914, paramilitary "volunteer armies" were recruited and armed, firstly the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and in response, the nationalist Irish Volunteers. But events in World War I Europe were to take precedence. Home rule was delayed for the duration of what was expected to be a short war and unionist and nationalist leaders agreed to encourage their volunteers to join the British army. The 36th (Ulster) Division, which was to suffer severely at the Somme in 1916, was formed predominantly from the UVF. Nationalists joined in great numbers as well, with "old" Irish regiments from Munster and Leinster being greatly strengthened by these recruits.

1916 rising and aftermath

During World War I, tensions continued to mount in Ireland. Hardline Irish separatists (known at the time as Irish Nationalists and later as Republicans) rejected Home Rule entirely because it involved maintaining the connection with Britain. They retained control of one faction of the Irish Volunteers, and in Easter 1916, led by Thomas Clarke, James Connolly and others attempted a rebellion in Dublin. After summary trials, the British government had the leaders executed for treason. The government blamed the small Sinn Féin party, which had had little to do with it. The execution of the leaders of the rebellion turned out to be a propaganda coup for militant republicanism, and Sinn Féin's previously negligible popular support grew. The surviving leaders of the Irish Volunteers infiltrated the party and assumed its leadership in 1917. (The Irish Volunteers would later become the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1919.)

Republicans gained further support when the British government attempted to introduce conscription to Ireland in 1918. Sinn Féin was at the forefront of organising the campaign against conscription.

When the veterans of World War I, on both sides of the political divide, returned from the front in 1918 and 1919, they came back as battle-hardened soldiers. In the general election of 1918, the Irish Parliamentary Party lost almost all of its seats to Sinn Féin. Of the 30 seats in the six counties that would become Northern Ireland, 23 were won by Unionists, including 3 Labour Unionists and five of the six IPP members returned in Ireland were elected in Ulster as a result of local voting pacts with Sinn Féin.[7]

Guerrilla warfare gathered pace in Ireland in the aftermath of the election, leading to the Anglo-Irish War. Although lower in intensity in Ulster than the rest of Ireland, the conflict was complicated there by involving not only the IRA, British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary, but the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as well.


The fourth and final Home Rule Bill (the Government of Ireland Act 1920) partitioned the island into Northern Ireland (six northeastern counties) and Southern Ireland (the rest of the island). Some unionists such as Sir Edward Carson opposed partition, seeing it as a betrayal of unionism as a pan-Irish political movement. Three Counties unionists, who found themselves on the wrong side of the new border that partitioned Ulster, felt betrayed by those who had joined them in pledging to "stand by one another" in the Ulster Covenant.[8] The Belfast Telegraph reassured unionists who felt guilty about this "that it was better for two-thirds of passengers to save themselves than for all to drown".[9] Many Irish nationalists also opposed partition, although some were gratified that Northern Ireland contained a large nationalist minority that would deny it stability.

The Treaty was given effect in the United Kingdom through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922. Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland could exercise its opt out by presenting an address to the King requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Treaty was ratified, the Parliament of Northern Ireland had one month to exercise this opt out during which month the Irish Free State Government could not legislate for Northern Ireland, holding the Free State's effective jurisdiction in abeyance for a month.

On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament of Northern Ireland resolved to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State:[10]

MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.

On 13 December 1922 Prime Minister James Craig addressed the Parliament of Northern Ireland informing them that the King had responded to the Parliament's address as follows:[11]

I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed.

Early years of Home Rule

Northern Ireland, having received self-government within the United Kingdom under the Government of Ireland Act, was in some respects left to its own devices.

The first years of the new autonomous region were marked by bitter violence, particularly in Belfast. The IRA was determined to oppose the partition of Ireland so the authorities created the (mainly ex-UVF) Ulster Special Constabulary to aid the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and introduced emergency powers to combat the IRA. Many died in political violence between 1920 and 1923, during which Belfast experienced the worst violence in its history. Killings petered out in 1923 after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922.

In total, 636 people were killed between July 1920 and July 1922 in Northern Ireland. Approximately 460 of these deaths occurred in Belfast (258 Catholics, 159 Protestants, and 3 of unknown religion). However, as Catholics made up less than one-quarter of the population of the city, the per capita death rates were much higher.[12]

The continuing violence created a climate of fear in the new region, and there was migration across the new border. As well as movement of Protestants from the Free State into Northern Ireland, some Catholics fled south, leaving some of those who remained feeling isolated. Despite the mixed religious affiliation of the old Royal Irish Constabulary and the transfer of many Catholic RIC police officers to the newly formed Royal Ulster Constabulary (1922), northern Catholics did not join the new force in great numbers. Many nationalists came to view the new police force as sectarian, adding to their sense of alienation from the state.


Under successive unionist Prime Ministers from Sir James Craig (later Lord Craigavon) onwards, the unionist establishment practised what is generally considered a policy of discrimination against the nationalist/Catholic minority.

This pattern was firmly established in the case of local government,[13] where gerrymandered ward boundaries rigged local government elections to ensure unionist control of some local councils with nationalist majorities. In a number of cases, most prominently those of the Corporation of Derry, Omagh Urban District, and Fermanagh County Council, ward boundaries were drawn to place as many Catholics as possible into wards with overwhelming nationalist majorities while other wards were created where unionists had small but secure majorities, maximising unionist representation.

Voting arrangements which gave commercial companies multiple votes according to size, and which restricted the personal franchise to property owners, primary tenants and their spouses (which were ended in England in the 1940s), continued in Northern Ireland until 1969 [14] and became increasingly resented. Disputes over local government gerrymandering were at the heart of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement in the 1960s.[15]

In addition, there was widespread discrimination in employment, particularly at senior levels of the public sector and in certain sectors of the economy, such as shipbuilding and heavy engineering. Emigration to seek employment was significantly more prevalent among the Catholic population. As a result, Northern Ireland's demography shifted further in favour of Protestants, leaving their ascendancy seemingly impregnable by the late 1950s.

The abolition of proportional representation in 1929 meant that the structure of party politics gave the Ulster Unionist Party a continual sizeable majority in the Parliament of Northern Ireland, leading to fifty years of one-party rule. While nationalist parties continued to retain the same number of seats that they had under proportional representation, the Northern Ireland Labour Party and various smaller leftist unionist groups were smothered, meaning that it proved impossible for any group to sustain a challenge to the Ulster Unionist Party from within the unionist section of the population.

In 1935, the worst violence since partition convulsed Belfast. After an Orange Order parade decided to return to the city centre through a Catholic area instead of its usual route; the resulting violence left nine people dead. Over 2,000 Catholics were forced to leave their homes across Northern Ireland.[16]

While disputed for decades, many unionist leaders now admit that the Northern Ireland government in the period 1922–72 was discriminatory, although prominent Democratic Unionist Party figures continue to deny it or its extent.[17] One unionist leader, Nobel Peace Prize joint-winner, former UUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble, described Northern Ireland as having been a "cold house for Catholics".[18]

Despite this, Northern Ireland was relatively peaceful for most of the period from 1924 until the late 1960s, except for some brief flurries of IRA activity, the (Luftwaffe) Belfast blitz during the Second World War in 1941 and the so-called "Border Campaign" from 1956 to 1962. It found little support among nationalists. However, many Catholics were resentful towards the state, and nationalist politics was fatalist. Meanwhile, the period saw an almost complete synthesis between the Ulster Unionist Party and the loyalist Orange Order, with Catholics (even unionist Catholics) being excluded from any position of political or civil authority outside of a handful of nationalist-controlled councils.[19]

Throughout this time, although the Catholic birth rate remained higher than for Protestants, the Catholic proportion of the population declined, as poor economic prospects, especially west of the River Bann, saw Catholics emigrate in disproportionate numbers.

Nationalist political institutions declined, with the Nationalist Party boycotting the Stormont Parliament for much of this period and its constituency organisations reducing to little more than shells. Sinn Féin was banned although it often operated through the Republican Clubs or similar vehicles. At various times the party stood and won elections on an abstentionist platform.

Labour-based politics were weak in Northern Ireland in comparison with Britain. A small Northern Ireland Labour Party existed but suffered many splits to both nationalist and unionist factions.

Second World War

Belfast was a representative British city that has been well studied by historians.[20][21] It was a key industrial city producing ships, tanks, aircraft, engineering works, arms, uniforms, parachutes and a host of other industrial goods. The unemployment that had been so persistent in the 1930s disappeared, and labour shortages appeared. There was a major munitions strike in 1944.[22] As a key industrial city, Belfast became a target for German bombing missions, but it was thinly defended; there were only 24 anti-aircraft guns in the city. The Northern Ireland government under Richard Dawson Bates (Minister for Home Affairs) had prepared too late, assuming that Belfast was far enough away to be safe. When Germany conquered France in Spring 1940 it gained closer airfields. The city's fire brigade was inadequate, there were no public air raid shelters as the Northern Ireland government was reluctant to spend money on them, and there were no searchlights in the city, which made shooting down enemy bombers all the more difficult. After the Blitz in London during the autumn of 1940, the government began to build air raid shelters. In early 1941, the Luftwaffe flew reconnaissance missions that identified the docks and industrial areas to be targeted. Working class areas in the north and east of the city were particularly hard hit, as over 1,000 people were killed and hundreds were seriously injured. Many people left the city in fear of future attacks. The bombing revealed terrible slum conditions in the city. In May 1941, the Luftwaffe hit the docks and the Harland and Wolff shipyard, closing it for six months. The Belfast blitz saw half of the city's houses destroyed. About £20 million worth of damage was caused. The Northern Ireland government was criticised heavily for its lack of preparation, and Northern Ireland's Prime Minister J. M. Andrews resigned. The bombing raids continued until the invasion of Russia in summer 1941. The American army arrived in 1942–44, setting up bases around Northern Ireland.

The Troubles

History is written by the winner
History is written by the winner. Mural in West Belfast


The Troubles was a period of ethno-political[23][24][25][26][27] conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998.[28][29][30][31][32] Violence nonetheless continues on a sporadic basis.[29][33][34]

In the 1960s, moderate unionist prime minister Terence O'Neill (later Lord O'Neill of the Maine) tried to introduce reforms, but encountered strong opposition from both fundamentalist Protestant leaders like Ian Paisley and within his own party. The increasing pressures from Irish nationalists for reform and opposition by Ulster loyalists to compromise led to the appearance of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, under figures such as Austin Currie and John Hume. It had some moderate Protestant support and membership, and a considerable dose of student radicalism after Northern Ireland was swept up in the worldwide protests of 1968. Clashes between marchers and the RUC led to increased communal strife, culminating in an attack by a unionist mob (which included police reservists) on a march, known as the Burntollet bridge incident, outside Derry on 4 January 1969. Wholescale violence erupted after an Apprentice Boys march was forced through the Irish nationalist Bogside area of Derry on 12 August 1969 by the RUC, which led to large-scale disorder known as the Battle of the Bogside. Rioting continued until 14 August, and in that time 1,091 canisters, each containing 12.5g of CS gas and 14 canisters containing 50g, were released by the RUC. Even more severe rioting broke out in Belfast and elsewhere in response to events in Derry (see Northern Ireland riots of August 1969). The following thirty years of civil strife came to be known as "the Troubles".

At the request of the unionist-controlled Northern Ireland government, the British army was deployed by the UK Home Secretary James Callaghan two days later on 14 August 1969. Two weeks later, control of security in Northern Ireland was passed from the Stormont government to Lieutenant-General Ian Freeland (GOC). At first the soldiers received a warm welcome from Irish nationalists, who hoped they would protect them from loyalist attack (which the IRA had, for ideological reasons, not done effectively). However, tensions rose throughout the following years, with an important milestone in the worsening relationship between the British Army and Irish nationalists being the Falls Curfew of 3 July 1970, when 3,000 British troops imposed a three-day curfew on the Lower Falls area of West Belfast.

After the introduction of internment without trial for suspected IRA men on 9 August 1971, even the most moderate Irish nationalists reacted by completely withdrawing their co-operation with the state. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland withdrew from that body on 15 August and a widespread campaign of civil disobedience began.


Tensions were ratcheted to a higher level after the killing of fourteen unarmed civilians in Derry by the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment on 30 January 1972, an event dubbed Bloody Sunday.

Throughout this period, the main paramilitary organisations began to form. 1972 was the most violent year of the conflict. In 1970 the Provisional IRA, was created as a breakaway from what then became known as the Official IRA (the Provisionals came from various political perspectives, though most rejected the increasingly Marxist outlook of the Officials and were united in their rejection of the Official's view that physical force alone would not end partition), and a campaign of sectarian attacks by loyalist paramilitary groups like the Ulster Defence Association (formed to co-ordinate the various Loyalist vigilante groups that sprung up) and others brought Northern Ireland to the brink of civil war. On 30 March 1972, the British government, unwilling to grant the unionist Northern Ireland government more authoritarian special powers, and now convinced of its inability to restore order, pushed through emergency legislation that prorogued the Northern Ireland Parliament and introduced direct rule from London.[35] In 1973 the British government dissolved the Parliament of Northern Ireland and its government under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

The British government held talks with various parties, including the Provisional IRA, during 1972 and 1973. The Official IRA declared a ceasefire in 1972, and eventually ended violence against the British altogether, although a breakaway group, the Irish National Liberation Army, continued. The Provisional IRA remained the largest and most effective nationalist paramilitary group.

On 9 December 1973, after talks in Sunningdale, Berkshire, the UUP, SDLP and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and both governments reached the Sunningdale Agreement on a cross-community government for Northern Ireland, which took office on 1 January 1974. The Provisional IRA was unimpressed, increasing the tempo of its campaign, while many unionists were outraged at the participation of Irish nationalists in the government of Northern Ireland and at the cross-border Council of Ireland. Although the pro-Sunningdale parties had a clear majority in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, the failure of the pro-Agreement parties to co-ordinate their efforts in the general election of 28 February, combined with an IRA-sponsored boycott by hardline republicans, allowed anti-Sunningdale unionists to take 51.1% of the vote and 11 of Northern Ireland's 12 seats in the UK House of Commons.

Emboldened by this, a coalition of anti-Agreement unionist politicians and paramilitaries organised the Ulster Workers' Council strike which began on 15 May. The strikers brought Northern Ireland to a standstill by shutting down power stations, and after Prime Minister Harold Wilson refused to send in troops to take over from the strikers, the power-sharing executive collapsed on 28 May 1974.

Some British politicians, notably former British Labour minister Tony Benn, advocated British withdrawal from Ireland, but many opposed this policy, and called their prediction of the possible results of British withdrawal the 'Doomsday Scenario', anticipating widespread communal strife. The worst fear envisaged a civil war which would engulf not just Northern Ireland, but also the Republic of Ireland and Scotland, both of which had major links with the people of Northern Ireland. Later, the feared possible impact of British withdrawal was the 'Balkanisation' of Northern Ireland.

The level of violence declined from 1972 onwards, decreasing to under 150 deaths a year after 1976 and under 100 after 1988.[36][37] The Provisional IRA, using weapons and explosives obtained from the United States and Libya, bombed England and various British army bases in Europe, as well as conducting ongoing attacks within Northern Ireland. These attacks were not only on "military" targets but also on commercial properties and various city centres. Arguably its signature attack would involve cars packed with high explosives. At the same time, loyalist paramilitaries largely (but not exclusively) focused their campaign within Northern Ireland, ignoring the uninvolved military of the Republic of Ireland, and instead claiming a (very) few republican paramilitary casualties. They usually[38] targeted Catholics (especially those working in Protestant areas), and attacked Catholic-frequented pubs using automatic fire weapons. Such attacks were euphemistically known as "spray jobs". Both groups would also carry out extensive "punishment" attacks against members of their own communities for a variety of perceived, alleged, or suspected crimes.


Various fitful political talks took place from then until the early 1990s, backed by schemes such as rolling devolution, and 1975 saw a brief Provisional IRA ceasefire. The two events of real significance during this period, however, were the hunger strikes (1981) and the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985).

Despite the failure of the hunger strike, the modern republican movement made its first foray into electoral politics, with modest electoral success on both sides of the border, including the election of Bobby Sands to the House of Commons. This convinced republicans to adopt the Armalite and ballot box strategy and gradually take a more political approach.

While the Anglo-Irish Agreement failed to bring an end to political violence in Northern Ireland, it did improve co-operation between the British and Irish governments, which was key to the creation of the Belfast Agreement a decade later.

At a strategic level the agreement demonstrated that the British recognised as legitimate the wishes of the Republic to have a direct interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland. It also demonstrated to paramilitaries that their refusal to negotiate with the governments might be self-defeating in the long run. Unlike the Sunningdale Agreement, the Anglo-Irish Agreement withstood a much more concerted campaign of violence and intimidation, as well as political hostility, from unionists. Republicans were left in the position of rejecting the only significant all-Ireland structures created since partition.

By the 1990s, the perceived stalemate between the IRA and British security forces, along with the increasing political successes of Sinn Féin, convinced a majority inside the republican movement that greater progress towards republican objectives might be achieved through negotiation rather than violence at this stage.[39] This change from paramilitary to political means was part of a broader Northern Ireland peace process, which followed the appearance of new leaders in London (John Major) and Dublin (Albert Reynolds).

The Good Friday Agreement and beyond

Increased government focus on the problems of Northern Ireland led, in 1993, to the two prime ministers signing the Downing Street Declaration. At the same time Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin, and John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, engaged in talks. The UK political landscape changed dramatically when the 1997 general election saw the return of a Labour government, led by prime minister Tony Blair, with a large parliamentary majority. A new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, initially perceived as a hardliner, brought his party into the all-party negotiations which in 1998 produced the Belfast Agreement ("Good Friday Agreement"), signed by eight parties on 10 April 1998, although not involving Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party or the UK Unionist Party. A majority of both communities in Northern Ireland approved this Agreement, as did the people of the Republic of Ireland, both by referendum on 22 May 1998. The Republic amended its constitution, to replace a claim it made to the territory of Northern Ireland with an affirmation of the right of all the people of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation and a declaration of an aspiration towards a United Ireland (see the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland).

Under the Good Friday Agreement, properly known as the Belfast Agreement, voters elected a new Northern Ireland Assembly to form a parliament. Every party that reaches a specific level of support gains the right to name members of its party to government and claim one or more ministries. Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble became First Minister of Northern Ireland. The Deputy Leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, though his party's new leader, Mark Durkan, subsequently replaced him. The Ulster Unionists, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party each had ministers by right in the power-sharing assembly.

The Assembly and its Executive operated on a stop-start basis, with repeated disagreements about whether the IRA was fulfilling its commitments to disarm, and also allegations from the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Special Branch that there was an IRA spy-ring operating in the heart of the civil service. It has since emerged that the spy-ring was run by MI5 (see Denis Donaldson). Northern Ireland was then, once more, run by the Direct Rule Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, and a British ministerial team answerable to him. Hain was answerable only to the Cabinet.

The changing British position to Northern Ireland was represented by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Stormont, where she met nationalist ministers from the SDLP as well as unionist ministers and spoke of the right of people who perceive themselves as Irish to be treated as equal citizens along with those who regard themselves as British. Similarly, on visits to Northern Ireland, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, met with unionist ministers and with the Lord Lieutenant of each county – the official representatives of the Queen.

However, the Assembly elections of 30 November 2003 saw Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) emerge as the largest parties in each community, which was perceived as making a restoration of the devolved institutions more difficult to achieve. However, serious talks between the political parties and the British and Irish governments saw steady, if stuttering, progress throughout 2004, with the DUP in particular surprising many observers with its newly discovered pragmatism. However, an arms-for-government deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP broke down in December 2004 due to a row over whether photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning was necessary, and the IRA refusal to countenance the provision of such evidence.

The 2005 British general election saw further polarisation, with the DUP making sweeping gains, although Sinn Féin did not make the breakthrough many had predicted. In particular, the failure of Sinn Féin to gain the SDLP leader Mark Durkan's Foyle seat marked a significant rebuff for the republican party. The UUP only took one seat, with the leader David Trimble losing his and subsequently resigning as leader.

On 28 July 2005, the IRA made a public statement ordering an end to the armed campaign and instructing its members to dump arms and to pursue purely political programmes. While the British and Irish governments warmly welcomed the statement, political reaction in Northern Ireland itself demonstrated a tendency to suspicion engendered by years of political and social conflict.[40] In August the British government announced that due to the security situation improving and in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement provisions, Operation Banner would end by 1 August 2007.[41]

On 13 October 2006 an agreement was proposed after three days of multiparty talks at St. Andrews in Scotland, which all parties including the DUP, supported. Under the agreement, Sinn Féin would fully endorse the police in Northern Ireland, and the DUP would share power with Sinn Féin. All the main parties in Northern ireland, including the DUP and Sinn Féin, subsequently formally endorsed the agreement.

On 8 May 2007, devolution of powers returned to Northern Ireland. DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness took office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively. (BBC). "You Raise Me Up", the 2005 track by Westlife, was played at their inauguration.

See also


  1. ^ "The Countries of the UK". 11 November 1997. Archived from the original on 11 November 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2019. The top-level division of administrative geography in the UK is the 4 countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  2. ^ "Countries within a country". 10 Downing Street. 10 January 2003. Archived from the original on 9 September 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2012. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  3. ^ "'Normalisation' plans for Northern Ireland unveiled". 10 Downing Street. 1 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2 August 2005. Retrieved 10 October 2012. Plans to reduce troops and abolish watchtowers in Northern Ireland to 'normalise' the province, have been outlined by the Government.
  4. ^ "The European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland 2007–2013" (PDF). Northern Ireland Executive. 4 October 2007. p. 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010. NI (NI) is a region of the United Kingdom (UK) that operates in an island economy sharing a land border with Ireland
  5. ^ Statutory Rules & Orders published by authority, 1921 (No. 533); Additional source for 3 May 1921 date: Alvin Jackson (2004). Home Rule – An Irish History. Oxford University Press. p. 198.
  6. ^ "The Irish Election of 1918". ark.ac.uk. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive.
  7. ^ Nicholas Whyte (25 March 2006). "The Irish Election of 1918". ARK. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  8. ^ http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-emergence-of-the-two-irelands-1912-25/
  9. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/sectarian/brewer.htm
  10. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report". ahds.ac.uk. Stormont Papers. 7 December 1922. pp. 1147 and 1150.
  11. ^ "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report". ahds.ac.uk. 2. Stormont Papers. 13 December 1922. pp. 1191–1192.
  12. ^ Lynch, Robert, "The People's Protectors? The Irish Republican Army and the “Belfast Pogrom,” 1920–1922", Journal of British Studies Volume 47, Issue 2 April 2008 , pp. 375-391, fn. 9[1]
  13. ^ Fionnuala McKenna (14 January 2012). "'How much discrimination was there under the Unionist regime, 1921–1968?' by John Whyte". ARK. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  14. ^ "CAIN Chronology". Entry under 25 November 1969. The Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) became law. The main provision of the act was to make the franchise in local government elections in Northern Ireland the same as that in Britain. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ Walker, Graham. A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism (Manchester Studies in Modern History). p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7190-6109-7.
  16. ^ Curley, Helen. Local Ireland Almanac and Yearbook of Facts 2000 (Local Ireland almanac & yearbook of facts). p. 17. ISBN 978-0-9536537-0-6.
  17. ^ http://www.mydup.com/news/article/campbell-to-raise-complaints-with-bbc-on-fair-employment-documentary
  18. ^ Trimble, David (10 December 1998). "The Nobel Lecture given by The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1998". Oslo.
  19. ^ MARC MULHOLLAND (2000). "Assimilation versus Segregation: Unionist Strategy in the 1960s" (PDF). Twentieth Century Brit Hist. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  20. ^ Brian Barton, "The Belfast Blitz: April–May 1941," History Ireland, (1997) 5#3 pp 52–57
  21. ^ Robson S. Davison, "The Belfast Blitz," Irish Sword: Journal of the Military History Society of Ireland, (1985) 16#63 pp 65–83
  22. ^ Boyd Black, "A Triumph of Voluntarism? Industrial Relations and Strikes in Northern Ireland in World War Two," Labour History Review (2005) 70#1 pp 5–25
  23. ^ Kennedy-Pipe, Caroline (January 1997). The Origins of the Present Troubles in Northern Ireland. Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-10073-2.
  24. ^ McGarry, John; Brendan O'Leary (15 June 1995). Explaining Northern Ireland. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-631-18349-5.
  25. ^ Dermot Keogh, ed. (28 January 1994). Northern Ireland and the Politics of Reconciliation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 55–59. ISBN 978-0-521-45933-4.
  26. ^ Weitzer, Ronald (January 1995). Policing Under Fire: Ethnic Conflict and Police-Community Relations in Northern Ireland. State University Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-2248-9.
  27. ^ Coakley, John. "ETHNIC CONFLICT AND THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION: THE IRISH EXPERIENCE OF PARTITION". Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  28. ^ Aughey, Arthur. The Politics of Northern Ireland: Beyond the Belfast Agreement. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-415-32788-6.
  29. ^ a b Holland, Jack (1999). Hope against History: The Course of Conflict in Northern Ireland. Henry Holt & Company. p. 221. ISBN 0-8050-6087-1. The troubles were over, but the killing continued. Some of the heirs to Ireland's violent traditions refused to give up their inheritance.
  30. ^ Gillespie, Gordon. Historical Dictionary of the Northern Ireland Conflict. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-8108-5583-0.
  31. ^ Elliot, Marianne (2007). The Long Road to Peace in Northern Ireland: Peace Lectures from the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University. University of Liverpool Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool University Press. p. 2. ISBN 1-84631-065-2.
  32. ^ Goodspeed, Michael (2002). When reason fails: portraits of armies at war : America, Britain, Israel, and the future. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 44 and 61. ISBN 0-275-97378-6.
  33. ^ "Draft List of Deaths Related to the Conflict. 2002–". Retrieved 31 July 2008.
  34. ^ (Elliot 2007, p. 188)
  35. ^ Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972 (c. 22)
  36. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/book/
  37. ^ "Background Information on Northern Ireland Society – Security and Defence". ARK. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  38. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/tab2.pl
  39. ^ Taylor, Peter (1999). "21: Stalemate". Behind the mask: The IRA and Sinn Féin. pp. 246–261. ISBN 1-57500-077-6.
  40. ^ Lavery, Brian; Cowell, Alan (29 July 2005). "I.R.A. Renounces Use of Violence; Vows to Disarm". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  41. ^ Brian Rowan (2 August 2005). "Military move heralds end of era". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2008.

Further reading

  • Adamson, Ian. The Identity of Ulster, 2nd edition (Belfast, 1987)
  • Bardon, Jonathan. A History of Ulster (Belfast, 1992.)
  • Bew, Paul, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland 1921-1994: Political Forces and Social Classes (1995)
  • Bew, Paul, and Henry Patterson. The British State and the Ulster Crisis: From Wilson to Thatcher (London: Verso, 1985).
  • Brady, Claran, Mary O'Dowd and Brian Walker, eds. Ulster: An Illustrated History (1989)
  • Buckland, Patrick. A History of Northern Ireland (Dublin, 1981)
  • Elliott, Marianne. The Catholics of Ulster: A History. Basic Books. 2001. online edition
  • Farrell, Michael. Northern Ireland: The Orange State, 2nd edition (London, 1980)
  • Henessy, Thomas. A History of Northern Ireland, 1920-1996. St. Martin's, 1998. 365 pp.
  • Kennedy, Líam; Ollerenshaw, Philip, eds. (1985). An Economic History of Ulster 1820 – 1940. Manchester UP. ISBN 0-7190-1827-7.
  • Kennedy, Liam and Philip Ollerenshaw, eds, Ulster Since 1600: Politics, Economy, and Society (2013) excerpts
  • McAuley, James White. Very British Rebels?: The Culture and Politics of Ulster Loyalism (Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2015).
  • Miller, David, ed. Rethinking Northern Ireland: culture, ideology and colonialism (Routledge, 2014)
  • Ollerenshaw, Philip. "War, industrial mobilisation and society in Northern Ireland, 1939–1945." Contemporary European History 16#2 (2007): 169-197.

External links

1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum

The Good Friday Agreement referendum, 1998 was a referendum held in Northern Ireland over whether there was support for the Good Friday Agreement. The result was a majority (71.1%) in favour. A simultaneous referendum held in the Republic of Ireland produced an even larger majority (94.4%) in favour.

Annals of Ulster

The Annals of Ulster (Irish: Annála Uladh) are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years from A.D. 431 to A.D. 1540. The entries up to A.D. 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the kingdom of Fermanagh. Later entries (up to A.D. 1540) were added by others.Entries up to the mid-6th Century are retrospective, drawing on earlier annalistic and historical texts, while later entries were contemporary, based on recollection and oral history. T.M. Charles-Edwards has claimed that the main source for its records of the first millennium A.D. is a now lost Armagh continuation of the Chronicle of Ireland.

The Annals used the Irish language, with some entries in Latin. Because the Annals copied its sources verbatim, they are useful not just for historians, but also for linguists studying the evolution of the Irish language.

A century later, the Annals of Ulster became an important source for the authors of the Annals of the Four Masters. It also informs the Irish text Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib.

The Library of Trinity College Dublin possesses the original manuscript; the Bodleian Library in Oxford has a contemporary copy that fills some of the gaps in the original. There are two main modern English translations of the annals – Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill (1983) and MacCarthy (1893).

Country definitives

Country definitives, formerly known as regional postage stamps of Great Britain are the postage stamps issued for regions of the United Kingdom, reflecting the regional identity of the various countries and islands of the British isles.Postage stamps were first issued by Great Britain in May 1840 and were valid throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1922 and in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland thereafter.

In 1958, special regional issues were introduced, with the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales receiving their own special issues. The designs used the same portrait as the Wildings, but were specially designed to incorporate the symbols of each of the home nations and Crown dependencies.

Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Isle of Man regional stamps were changed to the Machins on decimalisation, with the relevant emblems shown in the top left hand corner. They were replaced between 1999 and 2000 with new designs for the four home nations.

While generally sold at post offices in their respective areas, all were valid throughout the UK and, until they became postally independent, the Crown Dependencies.

Downing Street Declaration

The Downing Street Declaration (DSD) was a joint declaration issued on 15 December 1993 by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Major, and the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, Albert Reynolds at the British Prime Minister's office in 10 Downing Street.

The declaration affirmed both the right of the people of Ireland to self-determination, and that Northern Ireland would be transferred to the Republic of Ireland from the United Kingdom only if a majority of its population was in favour of such a move. It also included, as part of the prospective of the so-called "Irish dimension", the principle of consent that the people of the island of Ireland, had the exclusive right to solve the issues between North and South by mutual consent.The latter statement, which later would become one of the points of the Good Friday Agreement, was key to produce a positive change of attitude by the republicans towards a negotiated settlement. The joint declaration also pledged the governments to seek a peaceful constitutional settlement, and promised that parties linked with paramilitaries (such as Sinn Féin) could take part in the talks, so long as they abandoned violence.The declaration, after a meeting between Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and American congressman Bruce Morrison, which was followed by a joint statement issued by Adams and John Hume, was considered sufficient by the Provisional Irish Republican Army to announce a ceasefire on 31 August 1994 which was then followed on 13 October by an announcement of a ceasefire from the Combined Loyalist Military Command.

Government of Northern Ireland

The government of Northern Ireland is, generally speaking, whatever political body exercises political authority over Northern Ireland. A number of separate systems of government exist or have existed in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland was recognised as a separate territory within the authority of the British Crown on 3 May 1921, under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The new autonomous Northern Ireland was formed from six of the nine counties of Ulster, being four counties with unionist majorities, and Fermanagh and Tyrone two of the five Ulster counties which had nationalist majorities. In large part unionists, at least in the north east region, supported its creation while nationalists were opposed. Subsequently, on 6 December 1922, the island of Ireland became an independent dominion known as the Irish Free State but Northern Ireland immediately exercised its right to opt out of the new Dominion.

The first government of Northern Ireland was the Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland, which exercised such authority from 1922 to 1972. A Northern Ireland Executive was created following the signing of the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974, while the current Northern Ireland Executive under the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, was created in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and has intermittently been in existence from 1999 to the present. Northern Ireland has also been governed by ministers under the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during periods of Direct Rule.

Governor of Northern Ireland

The Governor of Northern Ireland was the principal officer and representative in Northern Ireland of the British monarch. The office was established on 9 December 1922 and abolished on 18 July 1973.

No. 502 Squadron RAF

No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron was a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron that saw service in World War II.

Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973

The Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 (c. 36) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which received the royal assent on 18 July 1973. The Act abolished the suspended Parliament of Northern Ireland and the post of Governor and made provision for a devolved administration consisting of an Executive chosen by the new Northern Ireland Assembly devised under the Sunningdale Agreement; the Assembly had already been created by the Northern Ireland Assembly Act 1973, passed two months earlier.

Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention

The Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention (NICC) was an elected body set up in 1975 by the United Kingdom Labour government of Harold Wilson as an attempt to deal with constitutional issues surrounding the status of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Forum

The Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue was a body set up in 1996 as part of a process of negotiations that eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The forum was elected, with five members being elected for each Westminster Parliamentary constituency for Northern Ireland, under the D'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation. There was also a "topup" of two seats for the ten parties polling most votes; this ensured that two loyalist parties associated with paramilitary groups were represented. See members of the Northern Ireland Forum for a complete list.

Parliament of Northern Ireland

The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the Home Rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended with the introduction of Direct Rule. It was abolished under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

The Parliament of Northern Ireland was bicameral, consisting of a House of Commons with 52 seats, and an indirectly elected Senate with 26 seats. The Sovereign was represented by the Governor (initially by the Lord Lieutenant), who granted royal assent to Acts of Parliament in Northern Ireland, but executive power rested with the Prime Minister, the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons.

Privy Council of Northern Ireland

The Privy Council of Northern Ireland is a formal body of advisors to the sovereign and was a vehicle for the monarch's prerogative powers in Northern Ireland. It was modeled on the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

The Council was created in 1922 as a result of the division of Ireland into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The latter remained part of the United Kingdom albeit with its own parliament. The previous Privy Council of Ireland was obsolete although never formally abolished in British law.

The Privy Council of Northern Ireland consisted of senior members of the Northern Ireland government including the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland; its members were appointed for life. The Council rarely met and was largely a ceremonial body with its responsibilities exercised by the cabinet. The last appointments were made in 1971 after which it was effectively abolished when the office of Governor of Northern Ireland and the Parliament of Northern Ireland were formally abolished in 1973 and its powers were transferred to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a member of the British Cabinet.

Members are entitled to use the prefix The Right Honourable, whilst peers who are members use the post-nominal letters PC (NI). Three members are still living as of 2018: John Dobson (appointed 1969), John Taylor (appointed 1970) and Robin Bailie (appointed 1971).

Quis separabit?

Quis separabit? (Latin: Who will separate [us]?) is a motto derived from the Vulgate translation of Romans 8:35 (τίς ἡμᾶς χωρίσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, tís hēmâs chōrísei apò tês agápēs toû Christoû):

"Quis ergō nōs sēparābit ā cāritāte Christī..."translated as "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"The motto is associated with Ulster unionism, Ulster loyalism and the British Army in Ireland: for example, it is used in the British Army by the Royal Dragoon Guards, the Royal Ulster Rifles, the London Irish Rifles, the Irish Guards, and the North Irish Horse, and it is also the motto of the Order of Saint Patrick. The phrase also appears on the Seal of South Carolina and inscribed on the alumnus ring of Clemson University.

It was the motto of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, a cavalry regiment of the British Army from 1922 to 1992. It was also the motto of the Connaught Rangers, an Irish regiment of the British Army, from its amalgamation in 1881 until it was disbanded in 1922. Prior to this, it was the motto of the precursor regiment of the Rangers, the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) which was founded in 1793. It was also the motto of the Ulster Defence Regiment and the 5th Royal Irish Lancers.

It was the motto of the former Government of Northern Ireland and appeared on the province's defunct coat of arms. It is also the motto of the Ulster Defence Association, a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland.The full quotation from Romans 8:35, Quis nos separabit a caritate Christi? is the motto of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the present Cardinal Secretary of State.

Sunningdale Agreement

The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland. The Agreement was signed at Sunningdale Park located in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on 9 December 1973.

Unionist opposition, violence and a loyalist general strike caused the collapse of the Agreement in May 1974.

Timeline of Irish inventions and discoveries

Irish inventions and discoveries are objects, processes or techniques which owe their existence either partially or entirely to an Irish person. Often, things which are discovered for the first time, are also called "inventions", and in many cases, there is no clear line between the two. Below is a list of such inventions.

Ulster Army Council

The Ulster Army Council (or UAC) of Northern Ireland was set up in 1973 as an umbrella group by the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force to co-ordinate joint paramilitary operations during the Ulster Workers' Council Strike. Andy Tyrie was the head of the group – and was also the then commander of the Ulster Defence Association.The following groups along with the UDA and UVF were members of the Ulster Army Council: the Orange Volunteers, Down Orange Welfare, Ulster Special Constabulary Association, Ulster Volunteer Service Corps and Red Hand Commandos. According to Don Anderson the Ulster Service Corps, a group based in County Fermanagh and south Tyrone that was distinct from the similarly named Ulster Volunteer Service Corps, was admitted to the group in early 1974. However most other sources contend the Ulster Service Corps did not actually appear until 1976 or 1977.The main aim of the group was to set up a Loyalist army of around 20,000 men to take control of Northern Ireland if necessary, to prevent any attempt of the re-unification of Ireland, in which the group planned to seize control of Northern Ireland and declare a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). Its main role at the start of the strike was to mobilise a large vigilante street presence in order to intimidate those workers uncertain about joining the strike, a tactic Tyrie described as essential in order that the strike would succeed. According to journalist Don Anderson, its role became much less important once the strike had been going for a few days as by that stage the majority of the Protestant workforce were behind the initiative voluntarily.The group was replaced by the Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) after the 1974 strike.

Unionist Party of Northern Ireland

The Unionist Party of Northern Ireland was a political party founded by Brian Faulkner in September 1974.

Unity (Northern Ireland)

"Unity" was the political label for a series of electoral pacts by Irish nationalist, Irish Republican and socialist candidates in Northern Ireland elections in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also contested elections as a party in its own right, electing six councillors in the 1973 local council elections in the Fermanagh and Dungannon areas, although this was reduced to two members of Fermanagh council in the next election in 1977.

The first victory came in 1969 in the Mid Ulster by-election which was won by the radical student Bernadette Devlin. She held her seat in the 1970 general election, when Fermanagh and South Tyrone was won by her colleague Frank McManus. Due to realignments in nationalist politics and opposition to Devlin's radical political and social views, both lost their seats in the February 1974 general election.

In the October 1974 general election the spirit of Unity was revived, if not the name, when Frank Maguire won Fermanagh and South Tyrone as an agreed independent Republican. He held the seat until his death in 1981. In 1978 Unity merged with the remnants of the Nationalist Party to form the Irish Independence Party.

Ó Catháin

The Ó Catháin, meaning "descendants of Cahan", were a sept of the Cenél nEógain branch of the Northern Uí Néill in medieval Ireland. The surname is usually Anglicised in Ulster as O'Cahan or O'Kane. They originated in the Laggan district in the east of modern County Donegal in the west of Ulster, and from there moved eastwards in the twelfth century, ousting the Uí Conchobair from Keenaght in modern-day County Londonderry, also in Ulster. They held the lordship of Keenaght and Coleraine until the seventeenth century, to which it was commonly referred to as "O'Cahan's country". Under the sub-ordination of the Ó Néill clan of the Cenél nEógain, they held the privilege of inaugurating the chief of the Ó Néill by tossing a shoe over the new chief's head in acceptance of his rule.

There is also an unrelated sept of Uí Catháin in the province of Connacht, the Ó Catháin Uí Fiachrach. At first Ó Catháin held the title chief of cenel Ianna. After expelling Ó Draighneán, chief of Cenel Sedna, Ó Catháin was henceforth known as chief of cenel Sedna. Eogháin Ua Catháin, Abbot of Cluan-fearta-Brennainn (Clonfert,Co. Galway) died 980 A.D. He was the earliest recorded Ó Catháin and most likely belonged to the Ó Catháin clan of Co. Galway.

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