The conflict in Northern Ireland

Table of contents


The Commitments............................................................................3

Across the Barricades......................................................................8
The problems in Northern Ireland showed by the book.....11

The problems in Northern Ireland showed by the book.....15

The Conflict in Northern Ireland

Historical facts for the conflict........................................................16

Organisations and Parties in Northern Ireland.................................21

The commitments
by Roddy Doyle

Outspan, Ray and Derek form a group called "And And And" but after 3 days Outspan and Derek think that the band needs a new direction. There is one guy who knows everything about music, he can tell them what is new and what is going to be new. The guy's name is Jimmy Rabbitte.
There changes a lot. Ray is thrown out of the band, the name is changed into "THE COMMITMENTS" and they are going to play Soul, Dublin Soul.
The next day Jimmy starts to search for new members. After some time they have a lot of members and instruments:
Jimmy Rabbitte - manager
Outspan Foster - guitar
Deco Cuffe - vocals
Derek Scully - drums
Dean Fay - saxophone
Joseph Fagan - trumpet

They even have 3 background singers called "THE COMMITMENTETTES": Imelda Quirk, Natalie Murphy and Bernie McLoughlin.
The first rehearsal takes till 3 o'clock in the morning and isn't that bad if you think of the fact that Dean learned to play the sax just some days before.
They rehearse three times a week. At one rehearsal Jimmy gives stage names to everybody:
Joseph Fagan ? Joey the Lips Fagan
James Clifford ? James the Soul Surgeon Clifford
Decan Cuffe ? Decan Blanketman Cuffe
Derek Scully ? Derek the Meatman Scully
Billy Mooney ? Billy the Animal Mooney
Dean Fay ? Dean Good Times Fay
Outspan ? L. Terence Foster
Imelda ? Sonya
Natalie ? Sofia
Bernie ? Tanya
Things are going well. Joey the Lips is the calming influence on the rest of the band and the boss at the rehearsals.
One day the whole male part of the band is shocked because Dean finds Joey and Natalie kissing behind the garage door. For a few minutes "The Commitments" even brakes up but Jimmy fixes everything again.
The boys are all jealous all of them fancy Natalie. They think Natalie likes Joey only because he had played with so many famous people like the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Sinatra,....
One week after that incidents Joey and Jimmy talk a little bit during a rehearsal. Joey explains to Jimmy that he needs rescue because Natalie is driving him crazy. She won't leave him alone. While they talk they smell a weird smell - hash.
Billy is smoking hash and Deco, Outspan, Dean and James are sitting around him. Jimmy and Joey try to tell them that hash is out and that it isn't soul. "We're supposed to be bringin' soul to Dublin. We can't do tha' an' smoke hash at the same time."
Jimmy organises the first gig. The bingo caller, Hopalong, is in hospital so the community centre is free and Father Molly allows them to play in the hall. The last week before the concert the band rehears every night. They begin to be nervous only Joey keeps them short of panic stations.
The concert is great. The people, 33 persons, can't stand still and dance the whole time.
After the concert Mickah, the bouncer, tells Jimmy that there is a guy from the Northside News who wants a word. The first PR - date.
From this day on Jimmy tours through pubs in Dublin to find a place for the next gig and is successful. The Commitments are allowed to play in a bar because the headline of the Northside News "Soul Soldiers of Destiny" is such a good ad.
The gig is okay but there appear problems with Deco. Deco thinks the band can't exist without him and that he can do everything. He is talking about HIS band, doesn't introduce the members with their stage names and and and.
The band cannot do anything because they really need Deco's voice.
Although there are some problems inside the band they even get a mention in the Herald.
Armed with the articles Jimmy gets the band a Wednesday night in another pub, a bigger one called Miami Vice. They are given a month's residency.
Even Hot Press comes to the second gig at Miami Vice and likes the band very much.
Billy leaves the Band because he hates Deco and he never wants to see Deco again or he kills Deco. Mickah wants to be the new drummer and Jimmy gives him a chance.
After the next Wednesday gig at the pub Deco tells the group that he is going on a Screen Test (= a talent show) and he applies to sing in the National Song contest as well. The Commitments are shocked, Mickah even stitches Deco a loaf, clean on the nose. Jimmy tries to calm them down with a piece of pretty good news. An A&R man is going to watch them next time. A&R means Artist and Repertory man who is a talent scout for record companies.
A week later everything has changed. The A&R man liked the show very very much and he wanted to sing them up but during the talk with Jimmy the band broke up. Deco found Joey kissing Imelda. Imelda held the band together because all the boys except Joey fancied her. Everything ends in everybody slapping everybody.
Jimmy's dream ends with that.
Everybody goes his own ways again.
Joey wants to go on tour with Joe Tex, but Jimmy finds out that Joe Tex died in 1982. (I think Joey kills himself.)
When Jimmy meets Imelda he gets to know that neither Imelda nor Natalie have fancied Joey. It was just a game. Imelda even told Joey that she was pregnant.
In the end Jimmy, Mickah, Derek Outspan and the girls found a new band called The Brassers, without politics, stage names and without soul.

Jimmy Anthony Rabbitte
Jimmy knows everything about music. You will never see him coming home from town without a new album. Jimmy reads all the important music magazines lie Melody Maker, NME and Hot Press. He listens to Dave Fanning, John Peel and to bands nobody knows.
Jimmy is the band's manager and founder. It is his dream to have an own band and to do everything for it.
He put all his energy into this dream to realise it.
Like all the other boys of the band he fancies Imelda.
He has a younger sister called Jackie.

Liam Terence Foster
Everybody calls him Outspan.
He has now work except on Saturday mornings he goes form door to door in Barrytown selling frozen chickens which his cousin steals.
Outspan's stage name is L. Terence Foster and he plays the guitar. He has no own so he takes his brother's guitar.
He is one of the first two and one of the last two members of the band.

Derek Scully
Derek is a calm but friendly guy.
He plays the bass because he thought it was the easiest instrument. His stage name is Derek the Meatman Scully. Like Outspan is he one of the first two and one of the last two members of the band.
He has a small scar on his forehead as a courtesy of Mickah from a soccer game.

Declan Cuffe
From the first day on he has the nickname Deco.
He worked in the same shop as Jimmy and sang at a Christmas party where Jimmy recognised that Deco had a very beautiful and interesting voice. So he is the singer of the band with the stage name Declan Blanketman Cuffe.
Deco isn't likeable, nobody likes him because he always thinks that he is the leader of the band.

James Clifford
James was once a school mate of Outspan, Derek and Jimmy but nobody liked him that days. He ratted on them.
Since he can think the has to go to piano lessons, so he is the pianist of the band called James the Soul Surgeon Clifford.
He studies medicine and is already in the 3rdyear.

Joseph Fagan
Everybody calls him Joey the Lips Fagan. He is nearly 50 years old. He plays the trumpet. Fagan has been on tour over about 11 years and played with famous musicians like The Beatles, Otis Redding, Joe Tex, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Jimi Hendrix, ...........
Joey loves Soul he even is soul and has enough soul for the rest of the band too.
He is the calming influence on the group during the rehearsal.
Although he doesn't fancy Natalie or Imelda he kisses them and causes the band to break up. Joey is the only one who doesn't fancy Imelda.

Dean Fay
Although Dean can hardly play an instrument he joins the band. Joey teaches him how to play the Saxophone. He gets a very good player.
Like all the others he fancies Imelda and Natalie too. So he is really a poor guy when he finds Joey and Natalie kissing behind the garage door.
His stage name is Dean Good Times Fay.

Billy Mooney
Called Billy The Animal Mooney when he plays the drums on stage. He isn't a member for very long because he is the first one who leaves the band. He hates Deco so much that he never wants to see him again otherwise it is likely that he kills the band's singer.
Billy's father is dead.

Mickah Wallace
Mickah was a school mate of some of the bands members but he got off the school because of beating a girl.
He is first the bouncer for the band but when Billy quits he becomes the new drummer. He even has an own idea for his stage name: Washington D.C. Wallace. (D. C. stands for Dead Cool)
Mickah is a good addition for the band because everybody likes him. His enthusiasm always comes at the right time.
Across the Barricades
by Joan Lingard

Sadie Jackson is on her way home when she hears somebody calling her name. It's Kevin McCoy. They haven't met since more than 3 years although they only live a few streets away from each other. But in Northern Ireland that can be like thousands miles.
Sadie and Kevin have coffee together and talk abut what has happened in the last few years.
After the coffee they go up on Cave Hill. At the bus stop they meet Linda Mullet, who is shocked to see Sadie with a Catholic.
With that piece of news Linda immediately visits the Jackson's. Of course Mrs. Jackson has a very big shock.
At Kevin's home Brede, his sister, and Mrs. McCoy are worried about the kids because they always play war and fight against patrolling soldiers.
Away from all the troubles Sadie and Kevin are sitting on top of Cave Hill.
When Sadie comes home there is a storm. Her parents tell her not to meet Kevin again and even Tommy, who likes Kevin, thinks that going out with Kevin would be too dangerous.
The next day Kevin meets Brian Rafferty, who is a friend. Brian wants Kevin to become a member of the Provisionals but Kevin doesn't want to kill people since he had almost lost his sister.
On Saturday Kevin and Sadie go to Bangor. They enjoy the peaceful atmosphere there. They want to go home with the last bus but destiny wants that they miss it. They hitch hike and Kevin's uncle Albert gives the couple a lift. After some miles the car breaks down. So they have to walk all the way back to Belfast.
It's 3 o'clock when they reach the town. Kevin brings Sadie home but a 100m before her house 3 men come to them. It 's only Tommy, Mr. Mullet and Mr. Jackson.
They nearly have a fight but Sadie and Tommy stop them to attack Kevin.
The next day Sadie and Kevin meet at River Lagan. They decide to part before they come near their own areas not to have encounters like the last night.
On the way back Brian Rafferts and two other guys beat up Kevin shouting "Traitor".
Brede is worried about her brother, so she visits Sadie and tells her what has happened to her brother the night before. The only conclusion Brede sees is to stop seeing Kevin. Sadie understands but she doesn't want to let Kevin down.

Kevin is very weak but he manages to go to the meeting point he had arranged with Sadie. While he is waiting for her a guy with a dog walks past him. The guy stops as he sees the pale face of Kevin, lifts Kevin up and wants to bring him home.
They are already on the way as Sadie arrives. She recognises the man who helps Kevin, it's her geography teacher.
Mr. Blake takes the couple to his home, a very nice house in one of the suburbs. Mr. Blake even invites them to have dinner with him.
The next day Sadie doesn't know where she shall go to because she lost her job due to the fact that her boss got to know that she went out with a Catholic guy. So she visits Mr. Blake, Moira Henderson, who offers her a job as a domestic lady and the neighbour of Mr. Blake offers her to look after their children.
She starts working for Mr. Blake in the morning and in the afternoon as a nanny for Moira.
Kevin isn't allowed to work for 3 weeks because of his injuries so he visits Sadie at work and helps Mr. Blake a little bit in the garden.
One day Mr. Blake, Sadie and Kevin make a trip t the countryside but they have a car accident. Somebody loosened all the wheels but nobody is hurt seriously. That accident means the end of meeting for the young couple.
For weeks they don't meet but on the 12thof July they meet at Bangor by chance. Sadie and Kevin decide to meet every Wednesday at Mr. Blake's and every Saturday somewhere outside the town.
Moira's husband Mike comes to visit Sadie and to tell her that Mr. Blake has died. He was killed by a patrol bomb.
After that incident Kevin decides to leave Belfast and all the troubles. He is sick of bombs, the soldiers and the troubles.
He goes to England and Sadie comes with him.

Sadie Jackson
Sadie is the second child of a Protestant family living in Belfast.
She is nearly 17. Her hair is long and fair. She has a strong will and loves the excitement in her life. She is full of energy and life.
Sadie knows almost everybody in Belfast.
What her mother doesn't like is that Sadie is headstrong and never lets things die, she always talks them to the end.
Although she doesn't work for a long time yet she had a lot of jobs like a job at an office, in a linen mill and at least at a hat department.
Her father Jim Jackson is a member of the Orange Lodge.
Her brother Tommy and she have a very good relationship.

Kevin McCoy
The eldest son of a Catholic family which has 9 children is nearly 18 and works for Mr. Kelly in the scrapyard.
His face isn't very broad but firm and has a suggestion of strength about it. It's deeply tanned.
Kevin is a very handsome guy.
He is very helpful and friendly and never thinks of himself first.
Since his sister Brede was almost killed in a fight against a Protestant gang he has no intention to fight against protestants.

Linda Mullet
Is an old school friend of Sadie. She lives in the same street just opposite. Linda is always gossiping and is very interested in other people.
Goes out with Tommy.

Relationship between Sadie and Kevin
They started as enemies, even fought with stones and fists, then they were friends but have drifted apart because of the difficulties of meeting.
When they meet again they become a couple. It is not easy for them because of their religions.

The problems in Northern Ireland showed by the book

The book shows which problems teenagers have if they live in Northern Ireland. If two people of the two different religions want to meet they have big troubles, Joan Lingard wrote: a few streets away is like being thousands of miles away. But the streets are not normal like our streets: there are burnt - out cars and busses and armoured vehicles, torn up paving stones, barbed wire coiled to form barricades. And along the streets walk solders on patrol with fingers on the triggers of their guns, men and women eyeing them watchfully, suspiciously, and bands of children playing at fighting and sometimes not just playing.
For most of the habitants of Ulster it is too difficult to talk about the subject. There is a generation which grew up in Northern Ireland and never had peace.
Every day happens something, the newspapers are full of headlines like: "Shop gutted by bomb, two killed, one injured".
Joan Lingard also tells you about the worried mothers. If the children are late they are very anxious because it could happen that they get mixed up with the IRA.
So it is not easy to understand the people who live there but if you read this book you have an idea what every day's life must look like!
by Bernard MacLaverty

Cal and Shamie McCluskey are the only Catholic family who are left in the whole estate. Fear has driven the others out but Cal's father won't move. The family is excluded and isolated.
Cal has no work and so he likes to spend his time at the library. One day he notices a new woman behind the counter. He falls in love with that woman who's name is Marcella Morton.
At home his father tells Cal that Crilly, a friend and a former school mate of Cal, wants to meet him. Cal visits Crilly, who is member of the IRA. Finbar Skeffington and Crilly are already waiting for Cal. The reasons why they want to see him his that they need a driver when they rob some places.
Cal doesn't want to help them he wants out of that group but as he mentions that they only laugh at him.
After that meeting Cal goes home and finds a note which says: "Get out you Fenyan scum or we will burn you out. This is your second warning there will be no others. UVF".
It's the idea of people whose faces Cal doesn't know hating him that makes his skin crawl. To be hated not for yourself but for what you are.
From this night on Cal can't sleep anymore and expects a petrol bomb to be thrown in every second.
It also becomes a regularly thing that Cal has to drive Crilly when he robs shops or something like that.
To earn some money and to give Cal some work Shamie buys a tree which Cal sells after he made small logs of the tree. He sells them to Mrs. Morton who invites him to work for her.
A week after he got the job at the Morton Farm he finds his house burning. Thanks God that nothing has happened to his father. A cousin of Shamie, Dermont Ryan, offers the two homeless guys to stay with him. Cal has another plan. On the farm is a cottage which is empty. That's the ideal place for him to say because neither Crilly nor somebody else of the IRA will find him there. It is the only way to get out of everything which has started a year ago when Cal was the driver and Crilly killed Marcella's husband Robert Morton. Now he loves that woman and can't forget the bad thing he did to her.
After some days the army gets him out of the cottage asking him what he is doing there. He tells them that he is working at the farm and that he is burned out of his own home.
The army takes him to Marcella who allows Cal to live at the cottage and even helps him with furniture for the house. Cal has nothing so she even gives clothes to him, clothes which belonged to her dead husband.

With Cal everything is fine but Shamie can't cope with the fact that he lost all the memories of his dead wife and his house.
Shamie gets so depressed that he first stops to work and a little later the doctor puts him in for treatment.
When Marcella's mother and father in law go to Belfast for a week she invites Cal to have dinner with her.
The wine makes Cal brave and so he kisses her but she doesn't respond. Some days later she apologises for it and tells him that she is fond of him. A little later they lie in bed and make love.
The day Cal buys the Christmas presents he goes to the library to wit for Marcella, but she isn't there. He takes some magazines and looks at them as suddenly a voice behind him says "Good to see you, Cal". Without turning around Cal knows that it is Crilly. Before Crilly takes Cal with him, he shows Cal the bomb he is hiding at the library.
Skeffington wants to have a word with Cal, so they visit him. They have once again the talk about Cal wanting out but the police interrupts them. The three guys try to run away but Crilly and Finbar are caught only Cal is able to escape without being seen.
On his way back to the farm he informs the police that there is a bomb at the library.
After an hour walk he arrives at home and is welcomed by Marcella.
Again they enjoy a night together.
The next day, Christmas Eve, the police comes and arrests Cal.


Cal McCluskey
Cal is a Catholic. He is 19 years old and has long hair. Because of the length of the hair he has developed some female gestures. He loves music and to play the guitar. He has no job and so he likes to go to the library. Cal is a heavy smoker. Of his family only his dad is left. Cal's elder brother Brendan also died in an car accident. A little later his mother, Gracie, died. Cal was only 8 years old. Shamie tried to replace her but he failed.
Cal has no friends. There is Crilly, but he is not his real friend.

Shamie McCluskey
He is Cal's father. During the day he works at the abattoir and at night he loves to watch westerns. He changed totally after he lost the house and the garden he liked so much. He lost all interests. Shamie's strong voice lost all the strength and in a couple of weeks he aged like in 20 years. In the end the doctor put him in for treatment.

Marcella Morton (former D'Agostino)
Marcella is from Italy. She is small, has dark hair and very brown eyes. It is difficult to guess her age but Cal thinks she is in her late 20ies. After her husband dies she starts to work at the library. Her husband, Robert Morton, was a Protestant to whom she was married more than 5 years. Like Cal she is a Catholic. Her daughter Lucy is the most important thing for her in her life.
Marcella studied at Glasgow.
The relationship to her mother in law, Mrs. Morton isn't very good. Sometimes Marcella is even afraid of her husbands mother.

Crilly is a friend and a former school mate of Cal. If he wants he really can be nasty. He is very tall and has large ears which stick out at the right angles.
He is a kind of bully boy and obviously a member of the IRA.

Finbar Skeffington
Finbar is about 30 years old and a teacher. He is small, has a round face and teeth like a rabbit. It seems as he is the boss of the organisation which is in close contact with the IRA or a part of the IRA.
The problems in Northern Ireland showed by the book

Cal is not only the story of a young guy between two parties who just wants to be left in peace. Springing out of the fear and violence of Northern Ireland, Cal is a sad love story in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark. The author describes the lives of the characters with tremendously moving skill.
The way how Bernard Mac Laverty describes the troubles in Northern Ireland and how it is reflected in the habitants lives: the tv is full of stories, for example: "The Army had shot a deaf mute, saying that he had been seen carrying a weapon, but by the time they had reached the dead man an accomplice had removed the gun. A Catholic father of three had been stabbed to death in a Belfast entry. The police said that there was no known motive for the killing." Every day Catholics are shot dead for no apparent reason, as the police says. But not only killed before they die they have to suffer from torture.
People say that the group who wins the propaganda war will win the rest too. So everybody who isn't member of an organisation is "keeping the Brits there".
A united Ireland? One island one country? What's so bad? In Protestants' opinion they will be ruled from Rome then and say that Ulsterman would die rather than live under the yoke of Roman Catholicism.
The Conflict in Northern Ireland

In order to understand the situation it’s important to know that the conflict today is the result of about 800 years of hatred and it is by no means merely a religious conflict.

Historical facts for the conflict
The first settlers arrived during the Stone Age. From the first century BC onwards, Gaelic people invaded Ireland. They gradually took control over the country. The Island was divided into a few small kingdoms, grouped into 4 provinces: Ulster, Leinster, Muster and Connacht.
The Gaelic invasion made a lasting impression on Ireland. The language the Gaels spoke is still taught in Catholic schools and is called "Irish".
Christianity was brought to Ireland by St. Patrick. In the 5th century the Gaels became Christians and religion has been a powerful influence on Irish life ever since.
Today Irish nationalists are very proud of their Gaelic past because they feel it clearly set them apart from the British.
In 1169 the British conquered parts of Ireland. Two years later Anglo - Norman invaders gained control of most of Ireland (the origin of the English - Irish conflict).
Four thousand years later, 1536, Henry the 8th attempted to impose the reformation on the Irish but it was unsuccessful (the origin of the religious conflict).
Edward the 6th and Elisabeth the 1st encouraged English settlers to live in Ireland. They also began introducing Protestant bishops, bibles and prayer books but most of the Irish people refused to accept the English religion or the English rules.
The provinces of Ulster and Munster rose in rebellion. Elisabeth sent her armies to defeat the rebels. The military force wasn’t the best way to gain control in Ireland so the English kings started to "plant" colonies of loyal Protestants from Scotland and give land to them - -> Plantation of Ulster.
From 1607 onwards, thousand of Scottish Protestant farmers came over to Ulster and settled on land taken from local Irish Catholics. (the origin of the Ulster problem).
In 1641 a great rebellion against the new settlers took place. Large numbers of Protestants were killed and the rebellion continued until the arrival of the English leader, Oliver Cromwell slaught the Catholic inhabitants of two towns in 1649.
In 1690 the Battle of Boyne took place. To understand what has happened you have to know that towards the 17thcentury there were two claimants for the English throne - William of Orange and James the second. James was a Catholic, William a Dutch Protestant.
In July 1690 James and William led their armies against each other. The Battle near the river Boyne ended on the 12thof July and a defeated James. So William became King of Great Britain and Ireland, called King Billy. The battle became the symbol of Protestant supremacy in the North of Ireland. In the following years laws were passed that kept Catholics from public office and deny them the right to buy or inherit land.
To this day each July 12, Protestant "Orangemen" (?William of Orange) in Ulster march to commemorate the victory.
1800 Act of Union: Ireland became part of the UK so they had a shared parliament with 32 Irish Peers.
Times of oppression and misery followed. Among the most difficult phases for the Irish were periods of starvation - "The Great Hunger" 1845 to 1849 where the potato crop was destroyed by a disease. During that 4 years one third of Ireland’s population starved or emigrated to the USA, Canada and Britain.
A catholic party, Sinn Fein (translated: ourselves alone or we ourselves) was founded 1907 and gained political support. The Catholics demanded for Home Rule but the Protestants formed the Ulster Volunteers to resist the Home Rule Bill, which would have created an independent Ireland.
IN 1912 some 1,000 rebels from the Irish Volunteers and the socialist Irish Citizen Army - led by Patrick Pearse proclaimed an Irish Republic on Easter Monday. After five days of fighting were over 400 people died and more than 2,500 were wounded. The leaders of the rebellion are executed in May. The more people were executed the more the Irish nationalist feeling grew.
After the Easter Rebellion Michael Collins organised the "Irish Republican Army" which is a nationalist organisation dedicated to the unification of Ireland.
In 1919 the British Government prepared to leave Ireland but the protestant ruling class dislikes that idea so bloody battles to place till it was decided that Ireland should be divided into two parts (1921 the got divided).
They divided Ireland into: the northern part - Ulster - with Belfast as capital and all 6 provinces as a part of the UK.
The south - Republic of Ireland - is an independent country with its own government.
The UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and other radical Protestants feared that the division of Ireland would be abolished and consequently the Protestants would lose their dominant position.
With the division the British Government regarded the Ireland problem as solved till the Catholic community started the civil rights movement, highlighting the abuse of power and demanding equality in employment, housing and education.
1969 bloody fights between Catholics and Protestants broke out. British troops were sent to Northern Ireland to maintain law and order.
1972: Fourteen men died after British troops opened fire on a civil rights demonstration in Derry (Londonderry). This day is called "Bloody Sunday". Two months later the parliament of Ulster was dissolved by the Prime minister to get a fairer distribution of power between Catholics and Protestants. This idea failed and Ulster was ruled directly by the British Government again.
Six months after the Bloody Sunday the IRA set off 22 bombs in Belfast that killed 11 people. That was the beginning of a long series of bombings, assassinations and shootings.
As the 1990s began, British troops were still patrolling the streets of Londonderry and Belfast, and the Provisional IRA continued to launch sporadic terrorist attacks on British civilians and military personnel in the British Isles and continental Europe.
In September 1993 the British government began bilateral talks with three of the four parties (the Democratic Unionists refused to join in). Three months later, on December 15, 1993, the British and Irish prime ministers signed the Downing Street Declaration, a statement of fundamental principles with regard to the future of the province.
On August 31, 1994, the Provisional IRA announced a complete cessation of its military Operations, ending 25 years of fighting.
In December 1994, the British government held its first public talks with Sinn Fein. The cease - fire held into 1995, despite severe strains at times. The failure of the Provisional IRA to hand over its arms delayed the start of all - party talks including Sinn Fein. However, during the year, the British government first scaled down the number of troops in Northern Ireland, and then, in March, ended routine patrols of British troops in the province. Then the British and Irish governments issued a framework document for all - party talks on a durable settlement in Northern Ireland.
1996: political life in Ireland was dominated by efforts to sustain the faltering peace process in Northern Ireland. This progress made during the previous years was abruptly terminated in February 1997 by the ending of the IRA cease - fire and by the detonation of a bomb in London's Docklands. In a struggle to reinstate the process, Irish Prime Minister Burton and the British Prime Minister Major tried to set dates for all - party talks. The majority Unionist parties which favoured the continued unification of Northern Ireland and Great Britain objected to the talks, however, and endless meetings failed to break a deadlock. Further violence followed.
In October 1997 an IRA bomb attack on the British army - base in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, restored the full cycle of violence. This left the Irish government with their overall peace strategy in ruins. There was all - party consent in the Republic that Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, would be excluded from talks while IRA violence continued. In spite of a working agreement on talks between the Ulster Unionists and Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party (which sought reunification with Ireland) all political parties in the Republic remained convinced that talks without Sinn Fein would make only limited progress and that the only route forward depended on a permanent IRA cease - fire.
Finally, in April 1998, on Good Friday a Northern Ireland peace agreement was reached. Copies of the proposed plan were mailed to every household in Northern Ireland. On Friday the 22nd of May in 1228 polling stations 71 percent of the voters said YES to an agreement that will transform the politics of Northern Ireland and redefine the historically contentious relations between London, Dublin and Belfast. The Good Friday Agreement, it should change the face of unionism forever and open the way to a sharing of government between Unionists and Nationalists.

The key points of the Good Friday Agreement

- A new political body of 108 members elected by proportional representation will administer Northern Ireland.
- A North - South Ministerial Council must be set up within a year.
- A new body drawn from the assembly and from the Irish Parliament will deal with common issues such as roads and agriculture. Dublin will hold a referendum to amend these two articles to the Irish constitution claiming that the North is an integral part of the Republic.
- A new charter for human rights to protect the Nationalist minority, plus restructuring of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
- A commission will be appointed to review the sentences of those convicted of terrorist - related charges during the Troubles and speed their release.
- A program to get weapons held by Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups turned in and destroyed will be implemented.
- he Irish language will get an official standing
- A committee will be set up to reform the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Northern Irish police force, hated by the Catholic community.

On the 15th August 1998 exploded a car bomb in a busy shopping district in Omagh, a small town seventy miles west of Belfast. Twenty - nine people were killed and 220 were injured in this attack. A month later the new Northern Ireland Assembly meets for the first time in the Stormont Assembly chamber.
In March 1999 the British government extends Northern Ireland's deadline to comply with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement amid debate over IRA disarmament. In the interim, the two countries sign four treaties designed to increase political co - operation between Britain and Northern Ireland.
The final deadline passes and the English prime minister's plan for returning control of Ireland back to a local executive collapses. Tony Blair, who had reignited the possibility of peace in the region, announces that Northern Ireland will continue to be ruled by London.
In early September, Senator Mitchell returns to a peace process in which all parties seem to have lost confidence.
However, after ten weeks of difficult negotiations an agreement is reached. On Saturday, the 27th of November 1999, the Ulster Unionist Party agrees to establish a power - sharing executive with Sinn Fein before decommissioning begins. In exchange, the IRA agrees to appoint a delegate to a decommissioning board. They are expected to begin handing over their weapons by February 2000.
On December 1, the new Northern Ireland Assembly meets to appoint members to the executive (cabinet). The new executive is made up of six Protestants and six Catholics. With the establishment of this new government, power transfers from London to Belfast, and the people of Northern Ireland begin governing themselves for the first time since 1972.
Britain suspends the Northern Ireland Assembly due to the IRA's refusal to begin decommissioning its weapons on the 11th of February 2000. The province is again governed by the British Parliament. The agreement had required the IRA to begin decommissioning by February. When this does not happen, David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, vows to resign - an event that almost certainly would lead to the collapse of the peace process. In order to prevent such a collapse, Britain suspends the Assembly. If a new procedure for decommissioning can be worked out, the Assembly will be reinstated.
On the 27thMay 2000 the UUP met to approve or to refuse the new establishment of a coalition with Sinn Fein.
IRA's offer to make their weapons accessible to independent inspectors and the promise to be peaceful made it possible to think of a new Northern Ireland Assembly.
The voting ended with a narrow majority (53,2%) to trust the IRA and to make a new coalition with the catholic Sinn Fein.
That step undid the suspension from the 11thFebruary 1999.
After three and a half months Northern Ireland gained Home Rule again.
A month later in June the IRA showed two inspectors the secret ordnance depots which meant that they kept their promise.
At the beginning of July after more than 2 years British troops had to intervene again in Belfast's streets. Protestants all over Northern Ireland fought against the RUC because the Orange Order of Portadown wasn't allowed to march through catholic streets.
On the 21stof August the British Army started to patrol Belfast's streets again.
Since autumn 2000 the peace talks have come to a deadlock.
Organisations and Parties in Northern Ireland


____________|____________ __________________________
| | | | | | |
IRA Sinn Fein SDLP DUP UVF PUP Orange Order

Catholics (Republicans / Nationalists)

IRA = Irish Republic Army
It is not possible to say when exactly the IRA was founded because there have been a lot of violent groups but Michael Collins is said to be the founder. First the IRA only protected the Catholics but then they became a militant army.
In 1922 the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain prohibited the IRA.
In 1969 the IRA accepted their inferiority and divided into the "Official IRA", which retains the traditional idea, and the "Provisional IRA", which tried to achieve their aims with paramilitary attacks against the British Army.
The split was led by the IRA's northern command who felt that the ideological swing to the left by the southern based leadership was detrimental to the movement as a whole.
With the traditional enemy, in there form of the British Army, on the streets of Northern Ireland, the Provisionals felt that, it was time to leave politics behind and respond in a military fashion.
From 1969 on they wage a restless war against the British Army and RUC and also attack civilians.
The official IRA was allied to "Official" Sin Fein and was more Marxist than its provisional counterpart. The official IRA has ceased to operate since it called a cease - fire on May 29, 1972, but strongly contested allegations have persisted that the group continued to exist and carried out robberies and assassinations well into the 1980s.

Means of the IRA protest:
• burning tyres in the streets, blocking roads with burning vehicles
• stoning police patrols, sniping at the security forces
• hijacking vehicles, placing bombs in them and driving them to designated targets (army barracks, police stations, or pubs frequented by British soldiers)
• going on hunger strikes

Sinn Fein

is the oldest surviving political party in Ireland, dating back to 1905. It is used to be widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA, but today the party insists that the two organisations are completely separate.
Its original aim remains unchanged - the right of Irish people as a whole to attain national self - determination. For Sinn Fein's main goal (an United Ireland) they will carry out whatever means necessary.
Like the IRA the Sinn Fein split up into Provisional and Official Sinn Fein in 1969. Later the Provisional Sinn Fein became the Worker's Party.
At the 1997 general election Sinn Fein won 17.6% of the vote. It has 18 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and two seats on the executive.
Sinn Fein's leader is the West Belfast man, Gerry Adams.

SDLP = Social Democratic & Labour Party

is the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland.
The party is left of centre and has always espoused non - violence in the pursuit of its aims. It also has been a longstanding critic of all paramilitary groups and the British military presence in Northern Ireland.
At the general election in 1997 it won 22% of the vote. With 24 seats in the Assembly the SDLP is the second - largest party.
Its leader John Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998.

Radical Catholics say:
? we have suffered form the consequences of English conquest and oppression, for several hundred years. Today the British practise neo - colonialism. Their troops are on army of occupation
? we are under - represented in social and political fields and discriminated against in housing, employment, etc.
? the IRA is a genuine political movement with Sinn Fein as its political mouthpiece. It represents the opinions of large section of the population.
? we are fighting for a just cause: that of expelling the British from Ulster and of reunifying Ireland under Catholic rule.
? the more of us are killed by British soldiers or the Ulster police, the more martyrs are created; each time there are more of us ready to revenge their deaths. The armed struggle of the IRA causes bloodshed and human suffering, but these are unavoidable consequences of the fight for self - determination
Protestants (Unionist / Loyalists)

Orange Order
was founded in September 1795. It came into existence as a Protestant response to the relaxation of the anti - Catholic penal laws at the end of the 18thcentury. It comprised Protestant males who pledged their allegiance to the Crown and their Protestant faith.
The Order commemorates the Battle of Boyne with marches at different country centres throughout Northern Ireland on the 12thof July.
It has played a significial role in Irish politics (harnessed Protestant opposition to Home Rule).

DUP = Democratic Unionist Party

was founded in 1971 by the Reverend Ian Paisley and William Boal. Under Reverend Paisley's leadership the DUP has strongly opposed the Good Friday Agreement. It is similar by against any other move which it interprets as an attempt to weaken the union or as a concession to nationalists or the Republic.
The DUP is strongly anti - Catholic in the religious sense and it boycotted peace talks.

UVF = Ulster Volunteer Force
was formed to oppose the implementation of Home Rule by military force if necessary. The outbreak of World War I and the suspension of Home Rule resulted in the UVF becoming the 36th(Ulster) Division of the British Army.
Following partition the force was disbanded and its members recruited by the RUC.
The UVF was re - established in 1966 and immediately declared war on the IRA but was banned some months later.

PUP = Progressive Unionist Party
is seen as a political wing of the UVF.
The party dislikes what it sees as too many concessions to Republicans during the peace process. However, it supports the Good Friday Agreement and has been outspoken in its belief that the Northern Ireland Assembly and executive should go ahead without delay.
The party's leader is Hugh Smith.

Extremist Protestants say:
? the IRA glorifies death violence, blood and sacrifice; our counter - at - tracks are only a reaction to their terror: IRA terror tactics are condemned world - wide; we refuse to give in to IRA terrorism
? if the British troops withdraw, there will be even more turmoil and bloodshed
? Ulster is British; most of us are descendants of the English or Scottish planers of the 17thcentury; we have the same right to our (Protestant) homeland as the descendants of the (more recent) settlers in the USA or Australia have to their native countries.

Results of the Election for
the New Northern Ireland Assembly
Percentage of Vote
Number of Seats
Ulster Unionist Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Democratic Unionist Party
Sinn Fein
United Kingdom Unionist Party

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