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Northern Ireland 1920-97

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Ms. Mc Caffrey

on 14 April 2018

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Transcript of Northern Ireland 1920-97

Northern Ireland 1920-97
The Birth of the State
The state of Northern Ireland was established by the Government of Ireland Act 1920.
The population was divided between the majority Protestant (mostly Unionist) community and the minority Catholic (mostly nationalist) community.
Northern Ireland came into being as a result of the objections of of the unionist community to Home Rule for Ireland.
Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom and was granted its own parliament in Stormont.
Northern Ireland
The Ulster Unionist Party dominated the Stormont parliament.
Its leader was James Craig, he stated Stormont was 'a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people'.
From the start the nationalist community suffered from discrimination by the ruling Unionist Party.
Unionists dominated the police force RUC and the civil service.
Gerrymandering was the deliberate organisation of constituencies to give unionists control over local government.
Northern Ireland
Gerrymandering was a way of fixing elections. Protestants wanted to retain control.
James Craig remained as Prime Minister until his death in 1940.
Basil Brooke another unionist became Prime Minister in 1943 and remained in power until 1963.
He was determined to continue unionist control of the state.
Sectarianism grew throughout the first 50 years of the existence of the state.
Catholics and Protestants went to different schools. Discrimination against Catholics existed in areas such as housing policy and employment.
World War 2
Northern Ireland played a very important role during WW. The ports at Derry and Belfast were important stages on the Atlantic route which supplied Britain with food and war materials from America in 1940 and 1941.
The huge Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast built ships for the Royal Navy and the merchant navy.
When WW2 ended, Britain elected the Labour Party into government. It promised to improve the lives of ordinary people by introducing the Welfare State.
All British citizens were guaranteed the right to a free education and the right to free healthcare.

World War 2
The Catholic population of Northern Ireland benefited from the new Welfare State.
A new, better educated generation of Catholics, who had been too poor to go to secondary school before the Welfare state grew up in Northern Ireland.
The Years 1963-96
In 1963 Captain Terence O' Neill became the unionist Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
Many Catholics who had received free education in the 1940's began calling for fairer treatment by the government and an end to discrimination.
O'Neill met Sean Lemass, Taoiseach of Ireland in 1965 and the next Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1967.
Up to then, Unionists had refused to recognise the government of the Republic of Ireland.
Many Unionists led by the Reverend Ian Paisley, reacted with fury to these meetings and O' Neill was forced to resign.
The Years 1963-96
Meanwhile the young Nationalists who had demanded change began to organise themselves into the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
Leading figures in the NICRA included Gerry Fitt, John Hume and Bernadette Devlin.
As civil rights protests grew, so too did sectarian tensions.
The Years 1963-96
The RUC and their part time force the B-Specials reacted violently to civil rights protests.
Two Unionist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) began a violent campaign against nationalists.
The first British troops sent to maintain order arrived in 1969.
Catholics welcomed them at first as they thought they were there to protect them from the RUC.
However, events changed and they soon became hated by the Catholic population.
The Years 1963-96
Fitt and Hume were among the founding members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1970.
They wanted to push for an end to discrimination by peaceful, democratic means.
Some nationalists however, turned to violence because they felt the British and unionist governments would never change.
Many of these joined the IRA which began a terrorist campaign against the government in the early 1970's.
Violence quickly began to spiral out of control as the IRA and the UVF and UDA attacked each other's communities.
This period of violence became known as The 'Troubles'.
The IRA also began to carry out attacks on the British army and the RUC, as well as attacks on civilian targets like pubs.
The government of Brian Faulkner, who became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1971 introduced internment in 1970 in an attempt to stop the violence.
This gave the government the power to arrest people and send them to prison without trial.
Thousands of men and women were arrested. This made the situation worse as many who were not involved were interned and most of them were nationalist.
Nationalist anger reached its height on Bloody Sunday 30 January 1972.
An anti internment march was organised for that day in a Catholic area of Derry city.
British soldiers shot dead 13 protestors. This incident sent an already violent situation out of control.
The Troubles Spin out of Control - 1973-97
In response to the crisis caused by Bloody Sunday and the violent reaction to internment, the British government suspended the Stormont parliament and imposed direct rule from London.
The Sunningdale Agreement1973 tried to find a solution to the problem. This agreement aimed to establish a power sharing government where both Protestants and Catholics have a say.
However the Sunningdale agreement was a failure as the government was weakened by a unionist strike.
It was clear unionists did not want Catholics to have any say in government.
Another attempt to improve things in 1985 when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald signed the Anglo Irish Agreement.
This agreement was met with strong opposition, particularly from the Democratic Unionist Party and its leader Reverend Ian Paisley.
The DUP wanted to keep unionist control of Northern Ireland and saw any agreement with the southern government as a step towards a united Ireland.
However, the agreement survived. It is now regarded as an important step towards the 1994 IRA ceasefire.
The most recent attempt at a solution to the problems in Northern Ireland has been the Good Friday Agreement of 1997.
The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party David Trimble, Sinn Fein Gerry Adams, and the SDLP John Hume agreed to form a power sharing government to bring about an end to the violence.
In a referendum the majority of the population supported this agreement.
Northern Ireland has now a power sharing government where Protestants and Catholics work together.
It also has a parliament at Stormont.
In a remarkable and historic event the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed to form a government in 2007 with Ian Paisley as First Minister and Martin Mc Guinness as Deputy First Minister.
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