Northern Ireland - A short overview of the conflict in Ireland

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Northern Ireland A SHORT OVERVIEW OF THE CONFLICT IN IRELAND The North, sometimes called Ulster, with its capital Belfast, is part of the U.K. It is ruled by the British Parliament in London and has the Queen as head of state. The South, which is called the Republic of Ireland, is an independent country with its own government and parliament in Dublin. The head of state is the President. Recent violence in Northern Ireland is all about one simple question: Should the North stay part of the U.K. or should it join the South as part of a united and independent country? People of the North cannot agree about the answer. The Unionists or Loyalists, who are mostly Protestants, want to stay within the U.K. The Nationalists or Republicans, who are mostly Catholics, want the North to join the South and become part of the Irish Republic. Both sides have their private armies. The IRA is seen as the main terrorist group in Ireland by the British army. The exact attitudes of the governments of the U.K. and the Irish Republic vary. The roots of the conflict, however, date far back into history. 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 (language, laws). The country was divided into a series of small kingdoms, grouped into four provinces: Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht. The Gaelic invasion made a lasting impression on Ireland. A version of the language is still ...

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