Northern Ireland Conflict, especially from 1968–1998 also terrorist conflict between the Catholic Irish and the Protestant descendants of the British settlers over the area of Northern Ireland.
According to physicscat, the internal development of Northern Ireland was v. a. shaped by the conflict between the Protestant majority and the Catholic minority. The Catholic nationalists, who refused to cooperate with the Protestant unionists (loyalists) and insisted on the unification of Northern Ireland with the Free State (later the Republic) of Ireland to form an all-Irish state, were politically marginalized to a large extent (including through electoral regulations in the interest of securing Protestant majorities).
Radicalization of the conflict
The unionist control of the government and administrative apparatus, which was also supported by a Protestant-dominated police force (“Royal Ulster Constabulary”, abbreviation RUC) between 1922 and 2002, corresponded to an economic and social disadvantage of the Catholic population. It was not until the liberal unionist Terence O’Neill (* 1914, † 1990), who led the Northern Irish government from 1963-69, that cautious domestic reform steps were initiated and government contacts were established with the Republic of Ireland (first meeting of the two prime ministers in 1965).
After the founding of various civil rights organizations and action committees (including the Campaign for Social Justice in 1963), the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was established in 1967 as their umbrella organization to which the government reacted mostly with repressive measures (above all with violent police operations, such as on October 5th, 1968 in Londonderry). In view of this development, radical groups on the nationalist as well as the unionist side pushed the forces willing to come to an understanding into the background.
The Catholic-nationalist party Sinn Féin and its military arm, the IRA, uncompromisingly adhered to the goal of the unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland; beyond the fact that Northern Ireland belongs to the United Kingdom, which is a matter of course for all Protestant groups, opposed extremist Protestant forces (e.g. I. Paisley, the chairman of the DUP) the social and political integration of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. The attack by militant unionist groups on Catholic neighborhoods in Londonderry (now Derry) and Belfast in August 1969 led to bloody clashes; the British government then moved troops to Northern Ireland to stop the escalation of violence. However, the British military itself became more and more involved in the clashes (the climax was on January 30, 1972 [“Bloody Sunday”], when British soldiers shot and killed 13 participants in a prohibited demonstration in Londonderry).
In the nationalist as well as in the unionist camps, paramilitary underground organizations were revived or re-established. The IRA, which, in view of the attacks by unionists and the security forces, quickly regained popularity as a “protective formation” for the Catholic population and as a symbol of anti-British resistance since the end of the 1960s / beginning of the 1970s, directed its terrorist actions v. a. against British troops, the RUC and Protestant Unionist activists in Northern Ireland, but also against politicians and institutions in Great Britain; the counter-terror came in particular from the Protestant Ulster Defense Association (UDA), its affiliated »Ulster Freedom Fighters« (UFF) and others. loyalist extremist groups. When the Northern Irish government failed to restore internal peace in Northern Ireland, the British government took over direct administration in Northern Ireland for the first time from April 1972 to December 1973 as part of a Northern Ireland Temporary Provisions Act (appointment of W. Whitelaw as Northern Ireland Minister).
After the 1973 elections, Brian Faulkner (* 1921, † 1977) headed a mixed denominational coalition government from January to May 1974, which, however, resigned under pressure from a general strike. This was followed by direct British rule again from the summer of 1974. A constituent assembly that was supposed to draft a constitution on the basis of the »power sharing« between Catholics and Protestants failed in 1975. In the 1970s, the bloody civil war-like unrest – called “Troubles” by the Irish – reached its climax (alone 1972 467 deaths); between the denominations deepened in view of the v. a. in the cities everyday violence alienation and exclusion. In 1976 Mairead organized Corrigan and Betty Williams’ first peace demonstrations by women of both denominations. But neither these actions of the “Peace People” nor the British anti-terror legislation aimed at preventing extremist violence (imprisonment of members of terrorist organizations and tough crackdown on members of the IRA) could relax the internal situation in Northern Ireland or contain the unrest, which is still more prevalent to the present than 3,000 killed.
The peace treaty
Until the 1990s, the initiatives agreed between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict (including the 1973 agreement on the creation of an “All-Ireland Council”, 1985 agreement on the limited participation of the Republic of Ireland in the administration of Northern Ireland) remained largely unchanged ineffective. After the Irish and British governments presented a joint declaration on the Northern Ireland question in December 1993, in which they recognized the right of all residents of the island of Ireland to self-determination and, after the unionist and republican terrorist organizations renounced violence, they offered peace talks to all Northern Irish parties (including Sinn Féin) the IRA on August 31, 1994 and Protestant underground movements on October 13.