NORTHERN IRELAND: "THE TROUBLES" 1963 to 1985.


Civil rights march, Londonderry, 5 October 1968 ©
Civil rights march, Londonderry, 5 October 1968 ©

Civil rights march, Londonderry,
5 October 1968 ©

- All information regarding the below bullets are brought to you by: Northern Ireland: The Troubles
- All information was edited, rewritten, and composed by: Kristoffer John Adams.

BACKGROUND


- In 1963, the prime minister of Northern Ireland, Viscount Brookeborough stepped down after 20 years.
- The Catholic minority had been politically marginalized, because of this it was largely the cause of Ireland's two-thirds Protestant majority.
- The right to vote in local government elections was restricted to ratepayers which in turn was favorable to Protestants with those holding or renting properties.
- The bias was preserved by unequal allocation of council houses of Protestant families.
- Catholic areas received less government investments than their Protestant neighbors.
- Police harassment, exclusion from public service appointments and other forms of discrimination were factors of daily life.
- The refusal of Catholic political representatives in parliament in regards to recognizing partitions would only increase the communities sense of alienation.

POST-WAR


- Britain's new labor government had introduced the welfare state to the north.
- It was only implemented by few.
- Catholic children in the 1950s could reap the benefits of further and higher education at the time.

THE "TROUBLES" BEGIN


- Northern Ireland had been left mostly prosperous by WW II.
- War production had favored it's heavy industries, with the boom continuing into the 50s.
- By the 1960s as elsewhere in Britain, these were in decline.
- In 1963, Viscount was forsed out of office and was to be replaced by a former army officer by the name of Terence O'Neill.
- Terence immediately introduced a variety of bold measures to improve the economy.
- O'Neill realized that for this change to take place, he would have to address the issues of Northern Ireland's simmering social, economic and political issues.
- Terence met with the Republic of Ireland's prime minister Sean Lemass, which was the first said meeting between Irish heads of government in 40 years.
- This represented a serious threat to many unionists.
- This was in part because the Republics constitution still laid claim to the whole island of Ireland.
- O'Neill's policies provoked outspoken attacks from within unionism.
- With Catholic hopes raised on one side and unionism fear on the other, the situation quickly threatened to boil over.
- Violence erupted in 1966 following the twin 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising.
- Rioting and disorder followed in May/June by the murders of 2 Catholics and a Protestant.
- This was caused by a "Loyalist" terror group called the Ulster Volunteer Force.
- O'Neill banned the "UVF", but it was too late. The cycle of the sectarian bloodletting would later be known as "The Troubles."

CIVIL RIGHTS


- Catholics were impatient with the progress of reform and remained unconvinced of the prime ministers sincerity.
- The result was the founding of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in 1967.
- Peaceful civil right marches descended into violence in October 1968.
- The British government summoned O'Neill to London to explain the situation.
- The reforms failed to deliver "one-man-one-vote" and the repeal of the repressive Special Powers Act.
- The civil rights marches continued.
- Organized by a group called People's Democracy than later by the NICRA.
- The RUC response was heavy handed and would only serve to inflame the Catholic community further.
- O'Neill gambled everything on a general election in which he dubbed the "crossroad election."
- The gamble failed.
- O'Neill held on grimly for another 2 months before he resigned in April of 1969.

THE PROVISIONAL IRA


'The Battle of the Bogside', Londonderry, 13 August 1969 ©
'The Battle of the Bogside', Londonderry, 13 August 1969 ©

'The Battle of the Bogside', Londonderry,
13 August 1969 ©

- O'Neill's replacement was James Chichester-Clark, who opted to continue with O'Neill's reform.
- Paramilitary groups began to operate on both sides of the sectarian divide.
- More problems arose following the annual Apprentice Boys' march in August 1969.
- Civil unrest became a 3 day explosion of rioting in Derry.
- The so-called "Battle of Bogside" only ended with the arrival of British soldiers at the request of Clark.
- Northern Ireland was losing it's grip on security.
- The more militant Provisional IRA demanded the unification of Ireland in defiance of British and was prepared to use violence to achieve it.
- The Drowning Street Declaration sought to placate both communities by stating its support for equality and freedom from discrimination.
- A blizzard of reforms followed, including the setting up of a variety of bodies to allocate council housing, investigate the recent cycle of violence and review policing.
- Outraged loyalists responded with yet more civil unrest and violence.
- Catholic areas escalated.
- Many homes were burned.
- The IRA-one of whose stated aims was the defense of the Catholic minority-had remained largely inactive during this period.

DIRECT RULE


- March 1971, Clark resigned and was replaced by Brian Faulkner.
- The reaction was predictable, even if the ferocity and extent of violence wasn't.
- The deaths in the final months of 1971 exceeded 150.
- "Bloody Sunday" remains the subject of intense controversy.
- The British government, led by Prime Minister Edward Heath, decided to act, removing control of security from the government of Northern Ireland and appointing a secretary of state for the province.

POWER SHARING


- Last meeting was on March 28th 1972. The province descended into an abyss of sectarian bloodshed that would claim the lives of 496 by the end of 1972.
- "Bloody Friday" was one of the worst crimes of the year full of atrocities.
- 1973, a new political initiative was being tabled by the British government.
- The political initiative outlined plans for a new Northern Ireland assembly.
- The initiative also proposed the creation of a "council of Ireland" that would give the Republic a role in Northern Ireland's affairs.
- The Sunningdale Agreement had agreed a 14-member Council of Ireland.
- The agreement raised the possibility that the Republic could gain decision making powers in Northern Ireland.

HUNGER STRIKES


Mural commemorating the 20th anniversary of the hunger strike ©
Mural commemorating the 20th anniversary of the hunger strike ©

Mural commemorating the 20th
anniversary of the hunger strike ©

- Over the next decade, a variety of peace keeping initiatives were suggested, tested and ultimately defeated.
- The protests escalated to a hunger strike in 1980, which was called off.
- A second hunger strike began in 1981.

THE ANGLO-IRISH AGREEMENT


Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement ©
Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement ©

Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after
signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement ©

- Realtions between the Republic of Ireland and Britain reached a new low during the hunger strike.
- The Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed in November of 1985, confirmed that Northern Ireland would remain independent of the Republic as long as that was the will of the majority of the north.
- The agreement also gave the Republic a say in therunning of the province for the first time.
- The agreement also stated that power could not be devolved back to Northern Ireland unless it enshrined the principles of power sharing.
- By 1987, unionists had tacitly conceded that their campaign to derail the agreement had failed, and once again began to cooperate with the government ministers.

Current Events:

While events may have appeared peaceful since the Good Friday agreement recent events in January have seen a possible flare up of The Troubles. Continued debate on policing and justice policies has led to marches by both the Orange Party (a division of the Democratic Unionist Party) and Sinn Fein. The Orange Party's demonstrations to keep judicial power in England have led to dissension amongst the Sinn Fein party and a possible end to the Northern Ireland Assembly if both sides continue to disagree. However, many believe that the Assembly's problems are cyclic and that tensions will die down again soon.

Walsh, John. The Christian Science Monitor. N.p., 29 Jan. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.