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Clash Of Neighbours: The History Behind Northern Ireland Tensions

Uploaded by harrycityca on Oct 22, 2002

Although it is clearly established that the people of Europe hold a firm understanding and connection to their cultural and historical roots, few Europeans do to such a degree as the Irish. And to the people of British Northern Ireland, this history plays a part of their every day lives; the political, class, culture and ethnic divisions run every bit as strong today as throughout Irish history. But why have these divisions hardened over time? Many European states manage religious and ethnic differences with tensions to a minimum. I propose that these tensions are the consequence of suppression of the Roman Catholic majority of a Protestant ruling elite for several centuries, which has left lasting implications on the modern class structure.

Ever since the Norman English first made contact with the Irish in the early centuries of this millennium there has been a mutual sense of doubt of each other’s intentions. There still remained a relatively peaceful isolated relationship. The real catalyst of tensions occurred in the seventeenth century when English and Scottish settlers began emigrating to relatively under populated Ulster, in Northern Ireland. There was a concurrent situation of overpopulation in Scotland, and sending Scottish labour to cultivate Ulster was an ideal solution.1 The Gaelic clans of Northern Ireland were quickly suppressed which led to more emigration to central and west Ulster. The peak of this influx from the British Island didn’t occur until well into the seventeenth century.2 These settlers were known as Anglo-Irish, and Ulster Scots. They were not a cohesive unit, religious differences between them also were an issue, as the English crown at first looked upon the Scottish Presbyterians in the same disdain as the Irish Catholics. Northern Ireland remained a quiet area until 1641, when the Irish Gaelic clans organized a rebellion to expel the settlers from their land. Open warfare broke out, with the Irish led by Rory O’More. His forces succeeded in driving the settlers out of central and west Ulster. Not until when the Scottish army, in 1642 was sent, could the Anglo-Irish and the Ulster Scots return. At the same time external political issues were brewing elsewhere in Europe. King Charles’ attempt to rule England as an absolute monarch had precipitated a civil war in 1642. Although a protestant, Charles had a very lenient view on Catholics: a stance, which endeared him to many Irish Catholics and drew their support...

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Uploaded by:   harrycityca

Date:   10/22/2002

Category:   European History

Length:   11 pages (2,487 words)

Views:   2168

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