The Cause of the Northern Island Troubles In this essay I am going to try and decide whether the cause of the
Northern Island troubles were long term or short term. Some people
believe that the troubles in Northern Ireland began hundreds of years
ago - that the current conflict was started by religious differences
and has continued to the present day. The other viewpoint is that the
disturbance today only began when tensions started building at the
time of the Civil Rights movements/marches during the 1960s. This
viewpoint claims that earlier events had no bearing on the struggles
of today, they were simply used to make a point of whom out of the
Nationalist or the Unionists were right.
Many people believe that the conflict really began in the 1530s when
Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and set up his
own Protestant Church in England. Although Protestantism was now the
major religion in England most of the Irish people remained Catholic,
so Henry declared himself King of Ireland. He tried to anglicise the
Irish so they would no longer appear against the English. This could
be a major religious cause as it created the two separate groups of
people in the first place - making it an important factor in bringing
about the difficulties. Catholics could feel like they were alienated
from the start - and the fact that King Henry just declared himself
king of Ireland could strengthen some Nationalist arguments.
When Queen Elizabeth defeated Irish Catholic rebels in 1601 she
rewarded her Protestant supporters and gave them lands taken from the
rebels. This was taken further by King James I. He began a full scale
'Plantation of Ulster' in 1609. Scottish and English Protestants were
encouraged to settle on land taken away from Catholics. All they had
to do was to take an oath of loyalty. This pushed the Catholics out
and made them resent the Protestants.
In 1641, England was split by a Civil war between King Charles I and
Parliament. The Catholics in Ireland thought that this was a good time
to rebel and many atrocities were committed against Protestants. The
Civil War ended in 1649 and Cromwell was sent to Ireland to deal with
the rebellion. Cromwell confiscated nearly all land owned by Catholics
- it was given to soldiers and to people who had lent the government
money. This once again alienated Catholics from society.
In 1688 King James II attempted to restore the Catholic religion and
was overthrown, replaced by Protestant king William of Orange. James
turned to King Louis XIV of France and the Irish Catholics for aid -
war broke out in...