Ireland and the Coflict in Northern Ireland

Ireland is an island, of the British Isles, the westernmost and second largest of the group, in the North Atlantic Ocean, and separated from Great Britain by St George's Channel on the southeast, the Irish Sea on the east, and the North Channel on the northeast. Politically, the island is divided into Northern Ireland, a constituent part of Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland, formerly Eire. The area of the island is 84,431 sq km in extent. The population of the island was 1997 5,3 millions.

The land
The eastern coast of Ireland is comparatively regular; the western coast is fringed by steep cliffs, and hundreds of small islands. The chief features are a region of lowlands, occupying the central and east central sections. Carrantuohill (1,041 m), located in the southwestern section of the island, is the highest point in Ireland. The principal rivers of Ireland are the Erne and the Shannon. The flora of Ireland comes largely from Britain and also the Irish fauna does not differ markedly from that of Britain.


The climate of Ireland is mild and damp throughout the year. The prevailing westerly winds from the warm Gulf Stream are largely responsible for the lack of extreme summer heat and winter cold.

Natural Resources

The most valuable natural resources of Ireland are its fertile soils and rich pasturelands. Natural waterpower is abundant. The chief minerals are basalt, limestone, sand and gravel, granite, chalk, clay, and shale.


Small owner - occupied farms predominate in Ireland. Livestock farming is most important; most of the land is under pasture, but the majority of farms combine crop production with animals. Sheep and cattle are grazed on the moorland areas.


Manufacturing is the leading sector of the economy after services. Traditionally, the manufacture of textiles and clothing has been one of the leading industries, but today the production of aircraft, ships and footwear grows more important.


The majority of the people are the descendants of Scots or English settlers who crossed from the mainland of the United Kingdom to north - eastern Ireland after 1607. The remainder of the population is descended from the original Irish inhabitants, principally those native to the province of Ulster.


From 1169 Britain starts to conquer Ireland.
1541 Heinrich VIII. from England crowns himself to king of Ireland.
1649 is the year of Cromwells devastating campaign against the irish catholic rebels, whose properties are seized.
1845 - 1851 there is a great hunger because of the infestation of the potatos by some kind of pest. Nearly one third of the population dies.
1916 the Republic of Ireland is founded.
1918 - 1923 The irish republicans make their own parliament. As an reaction the britisch government sends troops to the Northern Ireland to fight against the IRA that wants to stop the seperatation of Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland.
1949 The Republic of Ireland leaves the britisch commonwealth.
1967 - 1972: A time of growing violence. The climax is reached on the bloody sunday 1972 when 13 nationalists are killed by British soldiers.
1973 The Republic of Ireland joins the EU.

The Conlict in Northern Ireland

The Irish war for independence started in the 12thCentury, with the first Anglo - normanic conquests and ended with the founding of the Irish Free State, which is also called Republic of Ireland, in the year 1922. Because of the massacres on both sides in the year 1921 the erstwhile prime minister Lloyd George started talkings with the Sinn F├ęin. After five months of discussions both sides arranged, that the Irish Free State should be founded, to which 26 of the total 32 counties belong. The other six shires united to the political union of North Ireland and were from now on a part of the United Kingdom.

In 1949, when Eire became the Republic of Ireland, the British Parliament affirmed the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom unless its own Parliament decided otherwise. In 1955, however, irregulars of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) began a campaign of terrorism aimed at securing the union of Northern Ireland with the republic.

From the beginning, Catholics in Northern Ireland were a disadvantaged minority in matters of employment, housing, education, and effective cultural and political participation - a situation which the British government failed significantly to address. In 1968 an active and articulate civil rights movement emerged to protest this discrimination, often provoking violent reactions within the Protestant Community. British troops, sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 to help the local police, became a permanent presence, maintaining British authority and limiting Protestant reaction - but also becoming the focus of terrorist attacks.

In 1972 the British government suspended the Northern Ireland Parliament and imposed direct rule. Violence for example bombings increased in the following years. Two Belfast women, Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for working to reconcile Northern Ireland's religious communities.

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.
In 1997 Tony Blair's Labour Party sweeps Conservatives out of office. The IRA announces a new cease - fire. Two months later Sinn Fein joins multi - party peace talks in September. Blair meets with Sinn Fein chairman Gerry Adams in London.

1998: Britain announces an independent inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings of 1972. Violent actions between splinter groups kills 18 people. George Mitchell sets a deadline of April 9th for agreement.

April 10, 1998: 17 hours after a deadline set by Mitchell, all parties announce a deal has been struck.
Till the 14th of August peace seemed to return to Ireland to Northern Ireland but then an
other bomb exploded in a busy shopping street of Omagh. "It was the deadliest sectarien attack in Northern Ireland's 30 years of Catholic - Protestant conflict. The blast came less than three month after voter in both parts of Ireland overwhelmingly approved plans for a new Northern Ireland government with power shared between its majority Protestants and minority Catholics."

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