Irish Culture Essay

1252 words - 5 pages

Introduction:The conflict in Northern Ireland is paradoxical. Despite having adequate resources and affluent friendly and hospitable people the region is engaged in a thirty-year long violent struggle against their neighbors producing some of the most effective militant groups of modern times?Northern Ireland mocks the assumption that conflicts are a bane of underdeveloped countries with limited democratic tradition coupled with massive poverty and inequality. The cause of conflict in Northern Irish society is rooted in the struggle of one part of the community aimed at independent and unified Ireland with the other part of the community that wants to remain within the United Kingdom.Northern Irish people are plagued with a vivid awareness of past attitudes and behavior and the fear of them being replicated in the future. Their concerns about the past and the future bring in a sense of suspicion and lack of faith in their neighbors. It is important to appreciate these perceptions and relationships in order to understand the processes, mechanisms and proposals, which were needed to allow the parties to negotiate the Belfast Agreement in April 1998.Irish membership of the European Union (EU) has helped Ireland's economy to prosper resulting in Ireland acquiring the tag of 'Celtic Tiger' whereas Britain's world standing has diminished from the days of the British Empire. These changes have had a significant effect on British-Irish relations and have helped both countries to leave behind past assumptions and work together to find a way out of the conflict.Identity and ethnic backgroundCommunities living in the northern part of Ireland have a centuries old history of and hostility, suspicion and mutual distrust leading to conflict. The two communities are distinct in their culture and backgrounds. The most obvious difference is that of Protestantism and Catholicism (Brewer, John D. and Gareth I. Higgins 1998). Catholics are happy to be part of the UK while some Protestants favour a united Ireland. Most Catholics consider themselves to have descended from the Celts or Gaels, and are proud to be Irish and identify with Irish or Celtic culture. Protestants come from two main backgrounds: Scotland and England. The Celtic leaders in this part of Ireland failed in their resistance to growing English influence and went into exile. Their lands were confiscated by the British government and awarded to merchant companies in London who in 1609 developed a settlement scheme, known as the Plantation of Ulster, offering tenancies to English settlers or planters. These settlers, and the increasing numbers of Scot immigrants, were mainly Protestants in contrast to the Catholic farmers who were displaced (Eames, Robins 2000).The civil rights movementLate 1960s witnessed the emergence of educated classes, unionist and nationalist, spearheading the civil rights movement inspired by the civil rights campaign in the USA and stimulated by the student protests of 1968 in...

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