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Cause Of Violence In Northern Ireland

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In 1969, violence erupted in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Riots of August 1969 was quickly described as a civil disturbance, and was at first regarded as a nuisance more so than a significant problem. Not long after however, the situation had escalated into a full blown conflict, which forced the Northern Irish government Stormont to ask the British government in Westminster to deploy troops to the conflict area. By the end, thirty years later, the “civil disturbance” had amounted to almost 50,000 casualties. The conflict can be broken down into fighting between the Protestant Unionists and the Catholic Nationalists. The Troubles did have other parties fighting, such as communists and anarchists, however, their input
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When violence broke out in 1969, the Northern Irish government quickly tried and failed to cover the situation up. Instead, images of bleeding people, destroyed buildings and burning neighbourhoods were publicly broadcasted on news outlets all over Europe and America (Savage). This essay will explore the causes that can be argued to have been fundamental in the eruption of violence in Northern Ireland. These fundamental causes have been divided into three main categories, the long term causes, the short term causes and the immediate causes. The aim is to examine these three categories, and to see which, if any, is more significant a cause than any other. Hopefully, it will also shed light on what happened in Northern Ireland, and why it is an important area of the history of modern Britain.
CHAPTER 1: The Long Term Causes
With regards to any conflict in history, if it is to be properly understood, one often has to look at the long term causes. In the case of the Troubles there are two fundamental long term causes which this essay will analyse. The first long term cause is the economic condition of Northern
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This brings forth the second long term cause of the Troubles, the religious conflict. The Northern Irish population is predominantly Christian, with majority being Protestant and the minority being Catholics. (Coogan, 1916; The Morning After) This divide is one which had been in place since the formation of the Church of England during the Reformation in the 16th Century, when the Irish population remained faithful to the Roman Catholic Church (Sulutvedt ). Already at this stage in history, the majority of Ireland’s protestants were living in the northern counties, so when the partition occurred 1921 (Coogan, The Twelve Apostles) the South, which was populated mostly by Catholics, became the Republic of Ireland, wile the North became Northern Ireland. (Coogan, 1916; The Morning After) However, with the formation of Northern Ireland, the main religion went from being Catholic to Protestant. The Protestants had, shrewdly, been able to secure the area for themselves, and although there was a significant Catholic population, the Protestants managed to keep themselves firmly in power. (Wiepking) They did so through Northern Ireland’s outdated political system, in which only land owners were allowed to vote, and this meant that a large part of the Catholic community did not have the opportunity (Wiepking).

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