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Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is created …. After centuries of Anglo-Norman/English/British involvement, the ‘Kingdom’ of Ireland was incorporated into the UK in 1800 by Act of Union.

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Northern Ireland

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  1. Northern Ireland

  2. Northern Ireland is created … • After centuries of Anglo-Norman/English/British involvement, the ‘Kingdom’ of Ireland was incorporated into the UK in 1800 by Act of Union. • Ireland’s relationship to/within the UK (and England beforehand) was always contested, periodically by violent revolt e.g. 1798 uprising & the C19th campaign by the IRB & IRA (known as the ‘Fenians’) • Gladstone spoke of ‘local patriotism’ calling for ‘Home Rule’ for Ireland within UK but his ruling Liberal Party was divided; a Conservative House of Lords blocked Home Rule twice in 1886 and 1893, while Unionists in Ulster threatened revolt

  3. John Redmond & Arthur Griffith (1856-1918 ) (1871-1922)

  4. The Ulster Covenant, 28 September 1912

  5. 1912 – 3rd attempt at Home Rule by a Liberal Government helped by Labour & moderate Irish nationalists in Westminster; Unionists opposed to Home Rule (‘Rome Rule’) for Ireland • Home Rule Bill suspended for duration of WWI • 1916 - Easter Rebellion in Dublin – rebel leaders executed by the British for treason, alienating the vast majority of ordinary Irish people • 1918 – last all-Ireland election within the UK; triumph for Sinn Fein but also Unionists in North • 1919 – mounting civil unrest and violence • 1920 – Government of Ireland Act and Partition

  6. Two new Irish parliaments formed based on devolution – only Unionists attend the southern Parliament but it is ignored by Sinn Fein which continues to sit illegally in its Dail Eireann • The Northern Parliament convenes, dominated by Unionists; Northern Nationalists remain away • Unionists come to see devolution as a way of preserving the Union with Great Britain • 1921 – Devolved Government formed in Belfast • 1920-1 – last days of British rule in ‘the south’ before Anglo-Irish Treaty leads to IRA ceasefire • 1922 – Irish Free State formed; civil war begins

  7. Devolution in Northern Ireland • 1921-72 – Devolved Parliament & Government (later based at and known as Stormont) to deal with ‘transferred’ matters; London retained ‘reserved’ and ‘excepted’ matters. • 1922-3 – Civil war ends in the South with victory for pro-Treaty forces • 1937 – Irish Free State renames itself ‘Eire’ • 1939-45 – Eire neutral; NI at war as part of UK • 1949 – Eire finally leaves the Commonwealth/ Republic of Ireland formed

  8. Stormont (opened 1932)Home of the NI Parliament & Government

  9. James Craig & Eamonn de Valera(1871-1940) (1882-1975)

  10. 1945 – Labour Government at Westminster establishes a Welfare State; Unionist Government in Stormont reluctantly follows • 1956-62 – Operation Harvest (the IRA’s ‘Border campaign’) withers away but the 1960s witness increasing sectarian tensions inside NI over civil rights and Catholics’ experience of discrimination in public housing & employment • 1969 – UK Government introduces the Army to NI to ‘aid the civil power’ amid mounting unrest • 1971 – Stormont introduces internment; sharp escalation in civil unrest and terrorist violence • 1972 – Stormont abolished. Direct rule starts

  11. From Civil Rights to Civil War? Life goes on in Ulster ….

  12. Bloody Sunday & Bloody Friday(30 January and 21 July 1972)

  13. Brian Faulkner and the NI Government resign, Direct Rule imposed – William Whitelaw becomes 1st Secretary of State for NI, March 1972

  14. Direct Rule in Northern Ireland • 1972 – Worst single year of ‘the Troubles’ • Direct Rule established as a ‘temporary’ measure pending restoration of some form of devolved settlement that commands cross-community consent and agreement • 1973-4 – Sunningdale Agreement for ‘power-sharing’ in NI and a Council of Ireland collapses amid Unionist/Loyalist opposition • 1975 – Constitutional Convention • 1980-2 – ‘Rolling Devolution’ and new Assembly (boycotted by Nationalists, wound up 1986)

  15. The ‘Sunningdale’ Power-sharing Executive, Dec.1973-May 1974

  16. 1985 - Anglo-Irish Agreement • 1993 – ‘UK has no selfish, strategic interest in NI’ • 1993 – Downing Street Declaration by UK & RoI • 1994-6 1st IRA Ceasefire • 1997- 2nd IRA Ceasefire • 1998 – Good Friday Agreement & Referendum • 1998 – Assembly Election • 1999 – Devolved assembly begins

  17. Devolution-plus in Northern Ireland • Good Friday Agreement based on the ‘consent’ principle and on giving effect to three strands • Internal devolution based on power-sharing Assembly with a 12 member Executive • Cross-border dimension - all-Ireland inter-governmental North-South ministerial council (12 areas of cooperation and mutual interest) • British Isles dimension - British-Irish Council linking all sovereign & devolved bodies across archipelago; British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference between the UK and Irish Govts • ‘Confidence building’ measures: ‘reform’ of the police and criminal justice system; decommissioning of terrorist arsenals; Human Rights and Equality Commission; release of convicted terrorist prisoners

  18. Northern Ireland Assembly • Unicameral assembly but not sovereign (Westminster can over-rule) • Quadrennial elections - 108 MLAs elected by Single Transferable Vote form of PR • MLAs designate themselves as ‘Unionist’, ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Other’ - consociationalist • Primary legislation on transferred matters • No fiscal powers to levy taxation although power over the ‘Regional rate’ (property tax) • Discretion over devolved NI public spending • Key decisions by weighted majority (60% of those present and voting; at least 40% of both nationalist and Unionist delegations)

  19. Northern Ireland Executive • Diarchy of First and Deputy First Minister – one from each main community • 10 Ministers, drawn by the d’Hondt form of PR from the Assembly – a ‘Grand Coalition’? • Continued failure to secure decommissioning of terrorist weapons, and paramilitary activities led to Unionist refusal to share power with Sinn Fein • Republicans claimed Unionists don’t want to share power with them; & UK Govt ‘deceitful’ • 2000-03 - Assembly suspended 4 times with Direct Rule re-imposed during the suspensions

  20. 2003 – New election finally held but result ensures that suspension remains • Internal NI institutions and cross-border bodies supposed to be mutually interdependent • Despite suspension of the Assembly and Executive, North-South bodies continue to work • Under devolution, unlike Scotland or Wales, little evidence emerged of major policy divergences from UK government partly due to small policy capacity, regular suspensions & mistrust both between the parties and of the NI Civil Service which was so powerful under Direct Rule

  21. Alternatives? • ‘United’ Ireland – little prospect in the short-medium term – and, what would it mean anyway? • Full integration into the UK – difficult in a UK with growing internal devolution • Independence for Northern Ireland - unviable • Repartition of the island of Ireland - unviable • Joint UK/Irish authority/sovereignty - possible • European authority or UN protectorate – v.unlikely • Continued ‘Direct Rule’ from London – most likely • Internal subsidiarity – empowering local government • Demographic change – will the minority one day out number the majority? Even so, this does not imply an automatic support for an all-Ireland state.

  22. Conclusions • Ireland (& later Northern Ireland) has long had a chequered relationship with England (& the UK) • Partition was a ‘solution’ of sorts – for almost 50 years, Ireland ceased to be a major issue in British politics – NI was ‘hermetically’ sealed off • Discrimination & inter-communal violence/terror forced the UK Govt to intervene to seek a new dispensation to satisfy both communities • 1998 Belfast Agreement offered a way forward at last but has stalled indefinitely – but at least the worst excesses of terrorism have eased somewhat.

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