Religion Separatism In Northern Ireland Essay

1327 words - 5 pages

Religion Separatism in Northern Ireland

Throughout history, the desire for a group identity has created the
political and religious divisions of the world. As members of the
human race, we define ourselves as a distinct group, and this
inclination for categorisation and identity formation pervades all
human existence. The need to have an "other" is the basic driving
force that has started wars, created religions and forged boundaries
and borders. This need for inclusion of those like "us", and exclusion
of the other, or those not like us has led us to having an identity
that relates not to any genetic difference, but our social
environment. The history of Northern Ireland can be viewed in a
context of difference, and it is from this perspective that I shall be
discussing how this need for inclusion and exclusion have manifested
in the social and political structure that exists today, as
exemplified by the events in 2001 at The Holy Cross Primary School.

The Holy Cross Primary School was an all girls' Catholic school,
situated on the boundary of the Protestant and Catholic areas of
Aerodyne. Violence erupted on the first day of school in August 2001
as Protestant protestors lined the streets objecting to Catholics
using the front entrance of the school as it was in a Protestant area.
However, the back entrance was located in a Catholic area and
Protestants wanted the Catholics to use this rather than walking down
"their" road.

Sinn Fein was encouraging Catholic parents to use the road as an act
of defiance and the security forces had to be brought in to protect
girls as young as four. The Catholics saw it as their right to use the
route to take their children to school, which led to a situation where
conflict arose.

The conflict between the Catholics and Protestants has periodically
flared for many years. At the start of the 17th Century Loyal English
Protestants were granted large estates to quash any likelihood of a
rebellion or Catholic uprising. Land was a source of power and the
English rulers needed to control Ireland as it was seen as a
stepping-stone for Catholic invaders such as the Spanish who may have
been welcomed by the Irish due to their common religion. The
Protestants took the most fertile land and peripheralised the
Catholics both socially and economically.

In 1641 a rebellion ensued as the Catholics were becoming poorer and
the Protestants were becoming richer. In 1649 Cromwell, the leader of
the English Military crushed the rebellion. He ordered the execution
of all the Catholic inhabitants of Drogheda and Wexford. Land was
confiscated from Catholic rebels and many of them were driven to the
poorest province in the west.

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The Battle of the Boyne was a very important event because William of
Orange, the Protestant Kim of...

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