Were Protestants involved in the IRA

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What was the Northern Ireland conflict about?

The Northern Ireland conflict was a decade-long phase of armed conflict and political blockades in the island's six northeastern counties. The conflict arose from the division of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in 1922. At that time, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland had been united for over 100 years, but the island split off after a war of independence.

The Protestant Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic in the south, in which mainly Catholics lived, was again an independent state. While Northern Ireland's Catholic nationalist minority continued to demand the reunification of the island, the majority of Protestant loyalists wanted to remain part of the UK. So the conflict is not just a religious one, it is also a political one.

The Troubles, as the conflict is popularly known, began in the late 1960s. A civil rights movement emerged in Northern Ireland that criticized the fact that Catholics were being systematically disadvantaged. The city of Derry is an example of this. Or: Londonderry.

A name dispute with political implications: the first name was well received by Catholic nationalists who wanted independence from Great Britain, while the second was preferred by Protestant Unionists (or Loyalists) - who campaigned for Northern Ireland to remain British.

The Troubles ran for over 20 years - and killed more than 3,000 people.

Mostly Catholics lived in Derry / Londonderry, but there were more Protestants in the city parliament. Why? Because the constituency lines were drawn to the advantage of the Protestants. That is why from 1968 onwards there were repeated riots between Protestant and Catholic populations throughout Northern Ireland, including in Derry / Londonderry. There it happened on August 12, 1969 Battle of the Bogside, fierce street battles between the two camps and the police.

This was followed by street fights for months and in many places. So the British government decided to send troops to keep things calm. Some Catholics initially welcomed the soldiers, but then recognized them as partisan and hostile towards them. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA), founded by Catholic nationalists in 1969/1970, now fought against the British Army. Protestant paramilitary groups reacted again with violence, including against Catholic civilians. As the situation continued to escalate, the Northern Irish Parliament was dissolved, London took direct power and created a Northern Ireland Ministry.

The Troubles ran throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. They killed more than 3,000 people.

Who is the IRA?

The name Irish Republican Army has been used by various paramilitary groups over the past century. All united by the demand for the reunification of Ireland and its detachment from British legislation. The original IRA, founded in 1919, was primarily recruited from volunteers who had refused to serve in the British Army during the First World War.

Robbery, hostage-taking, assassinations: the IRA murdered a total of 1,800 people.

She fought in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) against the British occupiers and was officially recognized as the Army of the Republic by the first Irish government in 1921. The "Provisional IRA" (Provisional IRA, or simply IRA), founded in 1969 from a splinter group of the old IRA, saw itself as the only legitimate continuation of the "Old IRA". They tried to enforce their demands by means of robbery, hostage-taking, assassinations and bombings.

The members of this banned terrorist organization murdered 1,800 people in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and mainland Europe. In 1997 the IRA announced a definitive ceasefire, in the summer of 2005 it declared its armed struggle over, and two years later it was disarmed.

What is in the Good Friday Agreement?

On April 10, 1998, the Northern Ireland conflict came to an end with the Good Friday Agreement (Belfast Agreement). The ceasefire, negotiated under the leadership of the Irish and British governments, had given the conflicting parties (unionists vs. nationalists) an opportunity to come closer.

In the agreement, both sides agreed that the Northern Irish government should exercise its power for the benefit of all. In addition, both parties to the conflict should in future participate in government and resolve conflicts through negotiations and compromises. This principle is also called concordance democracy.

From then on, unionists and nationalists shared power. Both sides should work together in the newly formed Northern Ireland Assembly. A copy of the Good Friday Agreement has been mailed to all households in Northern Ireland and the Republic. In May, citizens voted in a referendum for the agreement, which officially came into force, and the Northern Irish Association began its work.

And what does the decades-old Northern Ireland conflict have to do with Brexit?

There is currently a "soft border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This means that since the introduction of the EU internal market in 1993, no goods controls have taken place. The checkpoints of the British Army were also finally abolished after the Good Friday Agreement. During the Brexit negotiations, it looked for a long time as if the British exit from the EU would lead to a "hard border": Between Ireland, still an EU member, and Northern Ireland, a 499-kilometer-long external EU border would have emerged overnight. on land and at sea.

Creating a regulation at this limit is the most important prerequisite for an orderly Brexit and to keep the potential for conflict on the Irish island small. In a compromise, Great Britain and the EU have meanwhile decided that Great Britain and Northern Ireland can continue to exchange goods smoothly and that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains open. Every four years, Northern Ireland will vote on the country's special role.

Cover picture: Don McCullin / Agency Focus

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