The Beliefs of the Republicans/Nationalists and the Loyalists/Unionists
There are a number of differences between Nationalists and Unionists
and their beliefs. The Nationalists are predominantly Catholic and
they do not want Ireland to be part of Britain. They see the British
as an occupying army and most believe that the British have no right
to be in Ireland, they think it's unfair that the British came into
Ireland in the 1600s and have stayed there. They feel angry about how
the British have persecuted the Catholics in the past, and they
believe that they still don't get treated as well as the Unionists.
They campaign for equal rights in different areas, especially housing
and jobs. Nationalists see Ireland as one place and generally want one
united state, though not all Nationalists want exactly the same thing.
Unionists, on the other hand, are mostly protestant and want to keep
Northern Ireland as part of Britain. Many see themselves as British
instead of Irish and believe they belong to Britain. However,
ancestors of theirs have been in Ireland since the 1600s, so they see
themselves as originating from there and believe it is their homeland.
They also see that the union with Britain is good for them from an
economic point of view. They are outnumbered in Ireland though, and
fear domination by the Catholics so need Britain in many ways to keep
them protected from being overpowered.
In a direct comparison of the two, their general views are the
complete opposite. The Unionists are mostly protestant want to remain
part of Britain. The Nationalists are mostly Catholic and want Ireland
to govern itself, many want Ireland to be united as one free state.
The Unionists see Ireland as their homeland, as their ancestors have
been there since the 1600s, yet still call themselves British. The
Nationalists still feel that the British are an occupying army, and
think its wrong that they are still there. The Unionists also feel
that being part of Britain is good for them economically, whereas the
Nationalists feel they get a bad deal. The Unionists mostly share
their main religion with Britain so feel happy with them, but the
Nationalists feel angry about how the British have treated the
Catholics in the past.
Though these are the two main groups, not everyone that is classed as
a Nationalist or a Unionist feels exactly the same; there are
differences within the sides. Some people are more extreme than others
and some can be more violent. Within the two sides they have different
political parties that have different methods and slightly different
On the Nationalist side two notable parties are the SDLP (Social
Democratic Labour Party), lead by John Hume, and Sinn Fein, lead by
Gerry Adams. The SDLP have always been committed to peaceful and