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Friday, 28 August 2015

Irish troubles

The Irish troubles began in the late 1960s and was primarily political but with strong ethnic and sectarian dimensions. A key issue was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Unionists/loyalists, who are mostly Protestants and generally want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists/republicans, who are mostly Roman Catholics, generally want it to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

On Sunday January 30, 1972, members of the British Parachute Regiment shot twenty-six civil rights protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland, killing at least thirteen people. This "Bloody Sunday" massacre fermented fresh grievances for the Irish against the English and Catholics against Protestants.

Murder victims of Bloody Sunday" by Vintagekits at English Wikipedia. 

By 1976, the animosity between the two groups had deteriorated to such an extent that Northern Ireland was close to a civil war. Two Roman Catholic women, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Betty Williams, founded a movement for peace in Northern Ireland known as the 'Peace People'. The movement involved people from both the Catholic and Protestant communities who wished to see an end to the sectarian violence that was plaguing the province. As a result of their efforts the two women shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

The decision of the General Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland in 1988 to allow members the freedom to call the pope "Antichrist", or not as they preferred, won approval from the Rev D.H. Porter. He laughably described it as "a victory for Christian charity".

During a visit to Northern Ireland, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke on November 30, 1995 in favor of the "Northern Ireland peace process" to a huge rally at Belfast City Hall. He called terrorists "yesterday's men".

IRA members showing an improvised mortar and an RPG (1992)

The Provisional Irish Republican Army resumed a ceasefire to end their 25-year campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland on July 19, 1997.

The conflict is deemed by many to have ended with the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998. . UK prime minister Tony Blair said: "A day like today is not a day for soundbites, really. But I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders."

In 2005 the IRA declared a formal end to its campaign and had its weaponry decommissioned under international supervision.

In July 2007, the British Army formally ended Operation Banner, their mission in Northern Ireland which began 38 years earlier, in 1969.

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