History Of Northern Ireland Essay

1031 words - 4 pages

Since 1972, the British Government has had mixed successes trying to establish peace in Northern Ireland. 1972 was the peak of the British unpopularity in Ireland, with the events of Bloody Sunday still fresh on the public consciousness; the Sunningdale agreement was drawn up. The Unionists saw this as a betrayal, giving into the southern rebels, and the IRA thought that this was an attempt to get the Southern Government to officially recognise the partition. Sunningdale fell almost immediately after a general strike proving the British had to change their strategy in order to achieve their goal of peace.
However, the public’s mood was beginning to change, and with groups such as the Peace People founded by Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, political pressure was applied to the government and social pressure was applied to the extremist groups. Despite this, violence continues through the 70’s and 80’s culminating in the attempted assassination of Margret Thatcher in the unsuccessful Brighton Bombing in 1984. This close shave provoked Thatcher to take more affirmative action in the region, and she drew up the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which called for and intergovernmental conference, more cross-border organization and peace in the region, but it was very badly received by the extremes in the North and the South. The agreement was received well by the politicians and middle classes, but the initiative proved to be unsuccessful, as the extremists saw it as too much compromise, and although the agreement was a minor success; it resulted in the Eniskillen bombing of 1987.
Eniskillen changed the game in Northern Ireland. The IRA began to lose popularity, and funding for them from the USA decreased dramatically, as they were seen to be no longer representatives of the minorities, but instead a terrorist group, hell-bent on interrupting perfectly acceptable efforts at peacekeeping. Such a change in political opinion opened up the ears of the Irish to potential solutions in the region, and the British pounced upon the opportunity by sending new personnel to the region.
Despite this, their violence continued, prompting the 1993 Downing Street Declaration, drafted under a new Labour government, which aimed to finally bring about peace in the region. The British tried their best to make this declaration definitive, and it was successful to a great extent, leading to the 1994 paramilitary ceasefire. Public opinion began to change as Britain began to take a step back, slowly showing their intent to give Ireland more and more say in the decisions that affected it.
The 1995 Joint Framework Declaration aimed to succeed where Sunningdale failed, and whilst it managed to bring about the long sought after North-South council, it left the Unionists doubtful and nervous. But success later came, and it was largely due to the British bringing in an independent mediator. They had learned that the Irish felt constantly attacked by the British, so the introduction...

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