College Papers

To 1171 the lordship of Ireland was created,

To understand Irish nationalism we must first understand the history of Ireland. Ireland’s union with Britain began back in the 12th century, after the Normans had invaded England and taken the throne in 1066, they proceeded to invade Ireland in 1169 and in 1171 the lordship of Ireland was created, meaning the King of England was also the Lord of Ireland, a role shared with the Pope, this role would later evolve to become the Kingdom of Ireland. This was the beginning of centuries of English, then British, rule over Ireland (Connolly 2007).After being taken under English rule, the country of Ireland was almost entirely Catholic as that was the primary religion of England at the time, due to it being the emergence of Protestantism and England breaking away from the Catholic church under King Henry VIII in 1534 (Pettegree 2011). However, after the creation of the Church of England and England’s transition from Catholicism, Ireland had remained almost entirely Catholic, thus creating the Protestant-Catholic divide between Ireland and the rest of Britain. The divide between the north and south of Ireland first started to come into existence during the early 17th century when, under rule by King James I, English and Scottish rulers confiscated land from the Irish in the north of Ireland under what was called the Plantation of Ulster, it was carried out with the aim of quelling any potential uprising in the north, also known as the Ulster region, as that had been one of the most rebellious areas in Ireland. The Plantation of Ulster resulted in the Protestant settlers in the north thriving and the northern Catholics uprising against them in 1641, leading to the Irish Confederate Wars between the Irish Catholic Confederation and the English and Scottish settlers in Ireland which lasted from 1641 to 1653 (Robinson 2000).Oliver Cromwell’s rule of England, Scotland and Ireland led to a steady decrease in Catholic land ownership in Ireland, whilst the Protestant reign of King William III resulted in another war in Ireland in 1689-1691 between the Irish, led by King James II, against the English and Scottish. The war ended in defeat for the Catholic Irish and a century of Protestant minority rule over the Catholic majority Ireland ensued, with Catholics being heavily discriminated against (Reilly 2012).In 1707, England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain and in 1798 there was an uprising against British rule in Ireland which eventually failed but did lead to much political uncertainty around Ireland’s status under British rule. However, in 1801, Ireland united with both England and Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. There was much, sometimes violent, opposition to the union and in 1886 the first home rule bill was proposed, which dictated that Ireland self-rule. The bill failed to pass through the House of Commons, much like the second bill, proposed in 1893, that failed in the House of Lords, however, over twenty years later in 1914, the Irish Home Rule Bill finally passed. However, the bill had to be temporarily shelved due to the First World War beginning later that year (Trueman 2015).Irish Republicans staged an uprising to end British rule in Ireland in 1916, whilst the British military was preoccupied with the war. The uprising, commonly known as the ‘Easter Rising’ involved the Irish Republicans seizing key locations in Dublin and temporarily proclaiming an Irish Republic. The Easter Rising was quickly quashed by the British Army but not without casualties on both sides with 143 British soldiers and 66 Irish Republicans being killed during the five-day stretch, but most importantly, 260 civilians were killed and 2,217 more were injured, many by the British who mistook the civilians for Republicans (BBC 2016). This blunder, as well as the controversial executions of the sixteen leaders of the uprising, led to growing support in Ireland of the Irish Republican movement and a disdain for the British due to their heavy-handed response, resulting in a boost in Irish Nationalism.In the 1918 British General Election, Sinn Féin, an Irish party that advocated for Irish independence and included many members that took part in the Easter Rising, won 73 out of the 105 Irish seats in Parliament. However, they decided not to take their seats in the British Parliament and instead formed an Irish Parliament and proclaimed an Irish Republic. However, despite Sinn Féin’s landslide victory, the vast majority of seats they won came in the South of Ireland, with the North predominantly favouring unionist parties. Thus, exemplifying the divide between the nationalist South and the unionist North (Ark 2018).Eventually, a war for independence broke out in Ireland between the army of the Irish Republic, commonly referred to as the IRA and the British forces in Ireland. In an attempt to end the war, another Irish Home Rule Bill was passed which split Ireland into Northern and Southern Ireland, a move that was intended to be temporary and solely implemented in order to end the war. In order to please the demands of both the Irish Nationalists and Unionists, the two sides of Ireland would remain part of Britain, but would also have home-rule with two Irish parliaments, one for the North in Belfast and another for the South in Dublin. Although, whilst the Northern Irish Government was set up successfully, the Southern Irish Government was not (Dorney 2012).The split, however, failed to end the war and it waged on for two and a half years between 1919 and 1921 and ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty, which dictated the formation of an Irish Free State, where Ireland would no longer be part of Britain but would remain as part of the British Empire. The treaty was written for both halves of Ireland but included an opt-out clause for Northern Ireland, which they signed and so, therefore, Southern Ireland became the Irish Free State (Dorney 2012).However, the treaty was particularly divisive within the newly-formed Irish Free State, with the country being divided into pro-treaty nationalists and anti-treaty nationalists. Even Sinn Féin would end up splitting itself into two separate parties, the pro-treaty Sinn Féin and the anti-treaty Sinn Féin, in the lead up to the 1922 Irish General Election, in which the pro-treaty Sinn Féin won 58 seats and the anti-treaty Sinn Féin won 36. The divide in the Irish Free State between the two sides of the treaty eventually resulted in a civil war which was fought between the Irish National Army who supported the treaty and the IRA who opposed it. In the end, the pro-treaty forces emerged victorious, adding validity to the treaty and the Irish Free State (Gallagher 1979).In 1937, a referendum was held in the Irish Free State on whether or not the nation should adopt a new constitution and with a 76% turnout, the move was approved with 56.5% voting yes and 43.5% voting no (Government of the Republic of Ireland publication 2013). This led to the Irish Free State renaming itself Ireland, as a reference to its claim over the whole of Ireland. With Ireland having seemingly accepted the treaty, at last, unrest in Northern Ireland continued due to the country being made up of Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists. Unionists were given preferential treatment, in jobs and housing for example (Cosgrove 2008), due to them being the majority in the country, this led to growing tensions between the two groups which would eventually lead to an era known as the Troubles. The Troubles was a period of conflict in Northern Ireland that began in 1968 and lasted for thirty years until 1998. The conflict was fought between nationalists and unionists over Northern Ireland’s status in the United Kingdom. The nationalists were represented by the IRA and the unionists were represented by Ulster Loyalist paramilitary groups, neither group was officially attached to Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland (Dorney 2015). The conflict is often characterised by the religious differences between the two sides with Unionists often coming from a Protestant background and Nationalists from a Catholic one. However, the divide is purely over the constitutional question of whether Northern Ireland should be part of Great Britain or not and not due to religious differences. The British Army deployed in Northern Ireland during the height of the troubles in an attempt to quell the violence between the unionists and nationalists. The British Army, instead of ending the violence in Northern Ireland, ended up adding to it. The British Army contributed to around ten percent of the overall casualties of the conflict, with just over half of them being unarmed civilians (Dorney 2015). A number of so-called peace walls were built, predominantly in Belfast, in order to separate Protestant and Catholic communities.The first major civilian incident the British Military was involved in was the Ballymurphy Massacre in Belfast, which involved the killings of 11 civilians in three days by British soldiers (The Guardian 2014). A few months later came yet another civilian massacre at the hands of British troops, on the 30th January 1972, an incident now infamously known as Bloody Sunday involved British troops shooting 28 civilians at a peaceful protest in Derry, resulting in fourteen deaths (BBC 2017).The Troubles ended after 30 years of bloody conflict, having caused thousands of deaths, over half of which being civilians. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement involved the parties of Northern Ireland, as well as Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, coming to a peace agreement in order to end the violence in North Ireland. There was a public referendum held in Northern Ireland on the agreement and with an 81% turnout, the agreement was backed by the public 71% to 29%. A referendum was also held in the Republic of Ireland on whether to amend their constitution in order to remove their claim to the North, this too was voted yes on 94% to 6%. The Good Friday Agreement marked the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (British Government 1998).As a whole, the nationalist movement in the now-Republic of Ireland was largely successful, they achieved their goal of independence and since the 1998 referendum, have rescinded their claim over Northern Ireland. Their economy is doing well, with their GDP growing at a 5.2% annual rate, compared to other European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany’s GDP rates only growing by 1.8%, 1.2% and 1.9% respectively. The Irish Government held a referendum on gay marriage in 2015, which was voted yes on by the public 62% to 38% (The Economist 2017), a remarkably progressive move for a country with such a deep religious history. Overall, the Irish nationalist movement in the South was a success and led to the forming of a currently prosperous nation in the Republic of Ireland.The nationalist movement in the North, however, was less successful, as a lot of the reason the South succeeded was due to using politics as a tool to legitimise itself, for example through Sein Féin. The nationalists in the North tended to rely more on violence alone through the IRA. This, instead of empowering their cause, instead tended to work against their own cause in many cases, as they were highly unpopular with the British due to their violent acts against them, thus, undermining the nationalists’ legitimacy. The nationalist movement in Northern Ireland ultimately failed as their violent tactics ultimately did not help them achieve their goal of a united Ireland.The debate over the Republic of Ireland and its previous membership of the United Kingdom is well and truly over, however, the nationalist movement in Northern Ireland may be about to be reignited as, despite the troubles ending twenty years ago, the nationalist and unionist debate still hangs over Northern Ireland. Every major political party in Northern Ireland is either unionist or nationalist, with the two major parties being the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin (BBC 2015). Unionist groups such as the Orange Order, named after King William III, organise marches through Catholic and Nationalist areas which often lead to outbreaks of violence (The Orange Order 2017). Sinn Féin’s leader Gerry Adams stated that he believes that a referendum on Northern Ireland’s status as a part of Great Britain is inevitable due to growing support for Sinn Féin in General Elections (The Irish News 2017). The future of the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland has been put in peril recently due to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, a union that both the Republic and the North are a part of. The reason the EU vote is so problematic to Northern-Republic relations is primarily because of the border, currently there is no physical border infrastructure between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland due to the Good Friday Agreement removing all security checkpoints from the border, in order to make it unseen and having both countries be part of the European Union has helped to ease this process. However, with Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain having announced it’s now leaving the European Union, as well as the single market and customs union, the border that separates the North and the South must have customs checks implemented, which goes directly against the Good Friday Agreement which has been holding peace in Northern Ireland together for the last twenty years (BBC 2017).