The History of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has had a volatile and tortured history. In 1969
began the conflict, which today is known as "The Troubles", but
Northern Ireland's troubled history roots back to a much earlier
period of time.
The seeds of partition were really sown in the mid 19th century when
the notion of two separate nations took root in Ireland. The Young
Ireland movement of the 1840's promoted a new racial ideology
emphasising the Gaelic origins of Catholics. Protestants in Ulster
bought into the idea of being Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic and laid
claim to the virtues of thrift, hard work and respect for the law.
Towards the end of the 19th century the Gladstone government responded
to demands in southern Ireland for Home Rule. Unionists believed a
Home Rule parliament in Dublin run by Catholic farmers would be bad
for Protestant businesses and by 1886 began to lobby for the
predominantly Protestant northern counties. They believed Catholicism
was an oppressive, backward religion and feared that Home Rule would
result in Rome Rule. The House of Lords began to introduce Home Rule
Bills, one in 1886 and the other in 1893.
Asquith's Liberal government introduced the third Home Rule Bill in
1912. Dublin Unionist MP Edward Carson threatened armed resistance if
Ulster was governed from Dublin. Between 1912 and 1914 Unionists
signed the Solemn League and Covenant and formed the UVF, an armed
Protestant militia to fight against Home Rule. The spectre of civil
war hung over Ulster. The Bill was passed in parliament but suspended
for the duration of the Great War.
The possibility of Home Rule stemmed the campaign for an independent
Ireland but the 1916 Easter Rising changed this. The execution of its
leaders inflamed nationalist opinion and by 1918 Home Rule was no
longer an option.
Although the Catholics liked the idea of Home Rule and three Home Rule
Bills were introduced, it was still a failure. The Protestants
threatened armed resistance if Ulster was to be governed from Dublin
and so Home Rule really just resulted in more violence and resentment
between the nationalists and unionists. The British had a hard
decision to make. If they gave the Home Rule to Ireland then the
Protestants would feel that they had been betrayed and if they didn't
introduce Home Rule then the Catholics would be angered. Either way it
would result in more fighting.
It became obvious that the Home Rule was a going to be a failure after
the 1916 Easter Rising. The nationalists were enraged by the
suspension of the Home Rule Bill during World War 1, so on Easter
Monday, April 24 they rose up in rebellion. Their chief objectives
were the attainment of political freedom and the establishment of an
Many years of anger, bad feelings and violence...