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Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=
Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ulstèr-Scotch'', ga, Albanaigh na hUladh), also called Ulster Scots ...
, Norlin Airlann) is a
part Part, parts or PART may refer to: People *Armi Pärt Armi Pärt (born 18 June 1991) is an Estonian handballer, playing in French D2 for Massy Essonne Handball. He is also a member of Estonian national team. Club career HC Kehra Armi Pärt ...
of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
that is variously described as a country, province, territory or region. Located in the northeast of the island of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in ...

Ireland
, Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country in north-western Europe consisting of 26 of the 32 Counties of Ireland, counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, on the eastern ...

Republic of Ireland
. In
2011 A series of protests and government overthrows, known as the Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab worl ...
, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's population and about 3% of the . The
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
(colloquially referred to as Stormont after its location), established by the
Northern Ireland Act 1998__NOTOC__ The Northern Ireland Act 1998 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a ...
, holds responsibility for a range of
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the
British government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas. Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the au ...
, creating a devolved government for the six northeastern counties. The majority of Northern Ireland's population were unionists, who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. They were generally the
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
descendants of . Meanwhile, the majority in Southern Ireland (which became the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
in 1922), and a significant minority in Northern Ireland, were Irish nationalists and
Catholics The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ri ...
who wanted a united independent Ireland. Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a Northern Irish or
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative ...

Ulster
identity is claimed by a large minority from all backgrounds. The creation of Northern Ireland was accompanied by violence both in defence of and against partition. During 1920–22, the capital
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
saw major
communal violence Communal violence is a form of violence that is perpetrated across ethnic group, ethnic or Communalism (South Asia), communal lines, the violent parties feel solidarity for their respective groups, and victims are chosen based upon group membership ...
, mainly between Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist civilians.Lynch, Robert. ''The Partition of Ireland: 1918–1925''. Cambridge University Press, 2019. p.11, 100–101 More than 500 were killedLynch (2019), p.99 and more than 10,000 became refugees, mostly Catholics.Lynch (2019), pp.171–176 In the following decades, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments. There was informal mutual
segregationSegregation may refer to: Separation of people * Geographical segregation, rates of two or more populations which are not homogenous throughout a defined space *Educational segegration * Housing segregation * Racial segregation, separation of huma ...
by both communities, and the Unionist governments were accused of discrimination against the Irish nationalist and Catholic minority, in what
First Minister of Northern Ireland The First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, province, or region which is Count ...
,
David Trimble William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, PC (born 15 October 1944), is a Northern Irish politician who was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002, and the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Par ...

David Trimble
, called a "cold house" for Catholics. In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by
loyalists Loyalism, in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. ...
, who saw it as a
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
front. This unrest sparked
the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A na ...
, a thirty-year conflict involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries and state forces, which claimed over 3,500 lives and injured 50,000 others. The 1998
Good Friday Agreement The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement ( ga, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or ; Ulster-Scots: or ), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trio ...
was a major step in the
peace process A peace process is the set of sociopolitical negotiations, agreements and actions that aim to solve a specific armed conflict. Definitions Prior to an armed conflict occurring, peace processes can include the prevention of an intra-state or int ...
, including paramilitary disarmament and security normalisation, although
sectarianism Sectarianism is a political or cultural conflict between two groups often related to the form of government they live under. Prejudice, discrimination, or hatred can arise in these conflicts, depending on the political status quo and if one group ...
and segregation remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued. The
economy of Northern Ireland The economy of Northern Ireland is the smallest of the four constituents of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described a ...
was the most industrialised in Ireland at the time of Partition of Ireland, but declined as a result of the political and social turmoil of the Troubles. Its economy has grown significantly since the late 1990s. The initial growth came from the " peace dividend" and increased trade with the Republic of Ireland, continuing with a significant increase in tourism, investment and business from around the world. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17.2% in 1986, dropping to 6.1% and down by 1.2 percentage points over the year, similar to the UK figure of 6.2%. Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, with Northern Ireland sharing both the
culture of Ireland The culture of Ireland includes Irish language, language, Irish literature, literature, Music of Ireland, music, Irish art, art, Irish mythology, folklore, Irish cuisine, cuisine, and Sport in Ireland, sport associated with Ireland and the Irish ...
and the
culture of the United Kingdom British culture is influenced by the combined nations' history; its historically Christian religious life A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to ...
. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, with the
Northern Ireland national football team The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team (1882–1950), Ireland natio ...
being an exception to this. Northern Ireland competes separately at the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...
or
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...
at the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
.


History

The region that is now Northern Ireland was long inhabited by native
Gaels The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a g ...

Gaels
who were Irish-speaking and Catholic. It was made up of several Gaelic kingdoms and territories, and was part of the province of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative ...

Ulster
. During the 16th century English conquest of Ireland, Ulster was the province most resistant to English control. In the
Nine Years' War The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...
(1594–1603), an alliance of Ulster Irish lords fought against the English government in Ireland. Following Irish defeat at the
Siege of Kinsale The siege of Kinsale, or Battle of Kinsale ( ga, Léigear/Cath Chionn tSáile), was the ultimate battle in Kingdom of England, England's conquest of Gaelic Ireland, commencing in October 1601, near the end of the reign of Elizabeth I of England, ...
, many of these lords in 1607. Their lands were confiscated by
the Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

the Crown
and colonized with English-speaking Protestant
settler A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their or ...
s from Britain, in the
Plantation of Ulster The Plantation of Ulster ( gle, Plandáil Uladh; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ul ...

Plantation of Ulster
. This led to the founding of many of Ulster's towns and created a lasting
Ulster Protestant Ulster Protestants ( ga, Protastúnaigh Uladh) are an ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or an ethno-religious group), or simply an ethnoreligion, is a grouping of people who are unified by a common religious Religion is a so ...
community with ties to Britain. The
Irish Rebellion of 1641 The Irish Rebellion of 1641 ( ga, Éirí Amach 1641) was an uprising by Irish Catholics in the kingdom of Ireland, who wanted an end to anti-Catholic discrimination, greater Irish self-governance, and to partially or fully reverse the plantation ...
began in Ulster. The rebels wanted an end to anti-Catholic discrimination, greater Irish self-governance, and to roll back the Plantation. It developed into ethnic conflict between Irish Catholics and British Protestant settlers, and became part of the wider
Wars of the Three Kingdoms The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, were an intertwined series of conflicts that took place between 1639 and 1653 in the kingdoms of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country tha ...
(1639–53), which ended with the English Parliamentarian conquest. Further Protestant victories in the Williamite-Jacobite War (1688–91) solidified Anglican Protestant rule in the
Kingdom of Ireland The Kingdom of Ireland ( ga, label= Classical Irish, an Ríoghacht Éireann; ga, label=Modern Irish Irish ( in ), sometimes referred to as Gaelic, is a of the branch of the , which is a part of the . Irish is to the and was the po ...

Kingdom of Ireland
. The Williamite victories of the
Siege of Derry The siege of Derry in 1689 was the first major event in the Williamite War in Ireland. The siege was preceded by a first attempt against the town by Jacobism, Jacobite forces on 7 December 1688 that was foiled when 13 Apprentice Boys of Derry, ...
(1689) and (1690) are still celebrated by some Protestants in Northern Ireland. Many more Scots Protestants migrated to Ulster during the Scottish famine of the 1690s. Following the Williamite victory, and contrary to the
Treaty of Limerick The Treaty of Limerick ( ga, Conradh Luimnigh), signed on 3 October 1691, ended the 1689 to 1691 Williamite War in Ireland The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691) ( ga, Cogadh an Dá Rí, "war of the two kings"), was a conflict between Ja ...
(1691), a series of
Penal Laws In the history of Ireland The first evidence of human presence in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to ...
were passed by the Anglican Protestant ruling class in Ireland. The intention was to disadvantage Catholics and, to a lesser extent,
Presbyterians Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Cath ...
. Some 250,000 Ulster Presbyterians emigrated to the colonies between 1717 and 1775. It is estimated that there are more than 27 million
Scotch-Irish Americans Scotch-Irish (or Scots-Irish) Americans are American descendants of Ulster Protestants who immigrated from northern Ireland to America during the 18th and 19th centuries, whose ancestors had originally migrated mainly from the Scottish Lowlands ...
now living in the United States, along with many Scotch-Irish Canadians in Canada. In the context of institutional discrimination, the 18th century saw secret, militant societies develop in Ulster and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks. This escalated at the end of the century, especially during the County
Armagh disturbances The Armagh disturbances was a period of intense sectarian fighting in the 1780s and 1790s between the Ulster Protestant Peep o' Day Boys and the Roman Catholic Defenders (Ireland), Defenders, in County Armagh, Kingdom of Ireland, culminating in th ...
, where the Protestant Peep o'Day Boys fought the Catholic Defenders. This led to the founding of the Protestant
Orange Order The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protesta ...
. The
Irish Rebellion of 1798 The Irish Rebellion of 1798 ( ga, Éirí Amach 1798; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ' ...
was led by the
United Irishmen The Society of United Irishmen, also simply known as the United Irishmen, were a sworn society in the Kingdom of Ireland The Kingdom of Ireland ( Classical Irish: '; Irish language#An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, Modern Irish: ' ()) was a client ...

United Irishmen
; a cross-community
Irish republican Irish republicanism ( ga, poblachtánachas Éireannach) is the political movement for the unity Unity may refer to: Buildings * Unity Building The Unity Building, in Oregon, Illinois, is a historic building in that city's Oregon Commercial H ...
group founded by Belfast Presbyterians, which sought Irish independence. Following this, the government of the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
pushed for the two kingdoms to be merged, in an attempt to quell sectarianism, remove discriminatory laws, and prevent the spread of French-style republicanism. The
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
was formed in 1801 and governed from London. During the 19th century, legal reforms known as the
Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the Brit ...
continued to remove discrimination against Catholics, and progressive programs enabled tenant farmers to buy land from landlords.


Home Rule Crisis

By the late 19th century, a large and disciplined cohort of Irish Nationalist MPs at
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...

Westminster
committed the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
to "Irish Home Rule"—self-government for Ireland, within the United Kingdom. This was bitterly opposed by
Irish Unionists Unionism in Ireland is a political tradition on the island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_i ...
, most of whom were Protestants, who feared an Irish devolved government dominated by Irish nationalists and Catholics. The
Government of Ireland Bill 1886 The Government of Ireland Bill 1886, commonly known as the First Home Rule Bill, was the first major attempt made by a British government to enact a law creating home rule for part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The ...
and
Government of Ireland Bill 1893 The Government of Ireland Bill 1893 (known generally as the Second Home Rule Bill) was the second attempt made by William Ewart Gladstone, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of gov ...
were defeated. However, Home Rule became a near-certainty in 1912 after the
Government of Ireland Act 1914 The Government of Ireland Act 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5 c. 90), also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom ...
was introduced. The Liberal government was dependent on Nationalist support, and the
Parliament Act 1911 The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make l ...

Parliament Act 1911
prevented the House of Lords from blocking the bill indefinitely.James F. Lydon
''The Making of Ireland: From Ancient Times to the Present''
, Routledge, 1998, p. 326
In response, unionists vowed to prevent Irish Home Rule, from
Conservative and Unionist Party Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture and civilization ...

Conservative and Unionist Party
leaders such as
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second hig ...
and Dublin-based barrister
Edward Carson Edward Henry Carson, Baron Carson, PC, PC (Ire) (9 February 1854 – 22 October 1935), from 1900 to 1921 known as Sir Edward Carson, was a Scottish-Irish unionist Unionism in Ireland is a political tradition on the island An ...
to militant working class unionists in Ireland. This sparked the
Home Rule Crisis The Home Rule Crisis was a political and military crisis in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed between 1801 and 1922. It was established by the ...
. In September 1912, more than 500,000 Unionists signed the
Ulster Covenant Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant, commonly known as the Ulster Covenant, was signed by nearly 500,000 people on and before 28 September 1912, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill introduced by the British Government The Governm ...

Ulster Covenant
, pledging to oppose Home Rule by any means and to defy any Irish government. In 1914, unionists smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition from
Imperial Germany The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
for use by the
Ulster Volunteers The Ulster Volunteers was a unionist militia founded in 1912 to block domestic self-government (or Home Rule) for Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atla ...
(UVF), a paramilitary organisation formed to oppose Home Rule. Irish nationalists had also formed a paramilitary organisation, the
Irish Volunteers The Irish Volunteers ( ga, Óglaigh na hÉireann), sometimes called the Irish Volunteer Force or Irish Volunteer Army, was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formatio ...
. It sought to ensure Home Rule was implemented, and it smuggled its own weapons into Ireland a few months after the Ulster Volunteers. Ireland seemed to be on the brink of civil war. Unionists were in a minority in Ireland as a whole, but a majority in the province of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative ...

Ulster
, especially the counties Antrim,
Down Down most often refers to: * Down, the relative direction Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are orientation (geometry), geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human person's. The most common one ...

Down
,
Armagh Armagh ( ; ga, Ard Mhacha, , "Macha Macha () was a sovereignty goddess Sovereignty goddess is a scholarly term, almost exclusively used in Celtic studies (although parallels for the idea have been claimed in other traditions, usually unde ...

Armagh
and . Unionists argued that if Home Rule could not be stopped then all or part of Ulster should be excluded from it. In May 1914, the British government introduced an Amending Bill to allow for 'Ulster' to be excluded from Home Rule. There was then debate over how much of Ulster should be excluded and for how long. Some Ulster unionists were willing to tolerate the 'loss' of some mainly-Catholic areas of the province. The crisis was interrupted by the outbreak of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
in August 1914, and Ireland's involvement in it. The British government abandoned the Amending Bill, and instead rushed through a new bill, the
Suspensory Act 1914 The Suspensory Act 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5 c. 88) was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which suspended the coming into force of two other Acts: the Welsh Church Act 1914 (for the disestablishment of the Church of Englan ...
, suspending Home Rule for the duration of the war, with the exclusion of Ulster still to be decided.


Partition of Ireland

By the end of the war (during which the 1916
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
had taken place), most Irish nationalists now wanted full independence rather than home rule. In September 1919, British Prime Minister
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
tasked a committee with planning another home rule bill. Headed by English unionist politician Walter Long, it was known as the 'Long Committee'. It decided that two devolved governments should be established—one for the nine counties of Ulster and one for the rest of Ireland—together with a
Council of Ireland The Council of Ireland was a statutory body established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act's lo ...
for the "encouragement of Irish unity". Most Ulster unionists wanted the territory of the Ulster government to be reduced to six counties, so that it would have a larger Protestant unionist majority. They feared that the territory would not last if it included too many Catholics and Irish nationalists. The six counties of Antrim,
Down Down most often refers to: * Down, the relative direction Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are orientation (geometry), geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human person's. The most common one ...

Down
,
Armagh Armagh ( ; ga, Ard Mhacha, , "Macha Macha () was a sovereignty goddess Sovereignty goddess is a scholarly term, almost exclusively used in Celtic studies (although parallels for the idea have been claimed in other traditions, usually unde ...

Armagh
, , and
Fermanagh Fermanagh ( ga, Fir Manach) was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland Gaelic Ireland ( ga, Éire Ghaelach) was the Gaelic political and social order, and associated culture, that existed in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Uls ...

Fermanagh
comprised the maximum area unionists believed they could dominate. Events overtook the government. In the
1918 Irish general election The Irish general election of 1918 was the part of the 1918 United Kingdom general election The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armisti ...
, the pro-independence
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
party won the overwhelming majority of Irish seats. Sinn Féin's elected members boycotted the British parliament and founded a separate Irish parliament (
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
), covering the whole island. Many Irish republicans blamed the British establishment for the sectarian divisions in Ireland, and believed that Ulster Unionist defiance would fade once British rule was ended. The British authorities outlawed the Dáil in September 1919, and a guerrilla conflict developed as the
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the be ...
(IRA) began attacking British forces. This became known as the
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary or ...
. Meanwhile, the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the au ...
passed through the British parliament in 1920. It would divide Ireland into two self-governing UK territories: the six northeastern counties (Northern Ireland) being ruled from
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
, and the other twenty-six counties (Southern Ireland) being ruled from
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
. Both would have a shared
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (), or more formally Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland, was the title of the chief governor of Ireland The chief governor was the senior official in the Dublin Castle administration, which maintained E ...
, who would appoint both governments and a
Council of Ireland The Council of Ireland was a statutory body established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act's lo ...
, which the British government intended to evolve into an all-Ireland parliament. The Act received royal assent that December, becoming the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It came into force on 3 May 1921,O'Day, Alan. ''Irish Home Rule, 1867–1921''. Manchester University Press, 1998. p. 299 partitioning Ireland and creating Northern Ireland. Elections to the Northern parliament were held on 24 May, in which Unionists won most seats. Its parliament first met on 7 June and formed its first devolved government, headed by Unionist Party leader James Craig. Republican and nationalist members refused to attend. King George V addressed the ceremonial opening of the Northern parliament on 22 June. During 1920–22, in what became Northern Ireland, partition was accompanied by violence "in defence or opposition to the new settlement". The IRA carried out attacks on British forces in the north-east, but was less active than in the south of Ireland. Protestant loyalists attacked the Catholic community in reprisal for IRA actions. In summer 1920, sectarian violence erupted in Belfast and Derry, and there were mass burnings of Catholic property in
Lisburn Lisburn (; "Lisburn/Lios na gCearrbhach"
.

Lisburn
and
Banbridge Banbridge ( ) is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Bann and the A1 road (Northern Ireland), A1 road and is named after a bridge built over the River Bann in 1712. It is situated in the Civil parishes in Ireland, civi ...

Banbridge
. Conflict continued intermittently for two years, mostly in Belfast, which saw "savage and unprecedented"
communal violence Communal violence is a form of violence that is perpetrated across ethnic group, ethnic or Communalism (South Asia), communal lines, the violent parties feel solidarity for their respective groups, and victims are chosen based upon group membership ...
between Protestant and Catholic civilians. There was rioting, gun battles and bombings. Homes, business and churches were attacked and people were expelled from workplaces and from mixed neighbourhoods. More than 500 were killed and more than 10,000 became refugees, most of them Catholics. The British Army was deployed and the
Ulster Special Constabulary The Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; commonly called the "B-Specials" or "B Men") was a quasi-military reserve special constable police force in Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the partition of Ireland. It was a ...

Ulster Special Constabulary
(USC) was formed to help the regular police. The USC was almost wholly Protestant and some of its members carried out reprisal attacks on Catholics. A truce between British forces and the IRA was established on 11 July 1921, ending the fighting in most of Ireland. However, communal violence continued in Belfast, and in 1922 the IRA launched a guerrilla offensive in border areas of Northern Ireland. The
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
was signed between representatives of the British Government and the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
on 6 December 1921. This created the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
. Under the terms of the treaty, Northern Ireland would become part of the Free State unless the government opted out by presenting an address to the king, although in practice partition remained in place. As expected, the
Parliament of Northern Ireland The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
resolved on 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) to exercise its right to opt out of the Free State by making an address to King
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother ...

George V
. The text of the address was: Shortly afterwards, the
Irish Boundary Commission The Irish Boundary Commission ( ga, Coimisiún na Teorainne) met in 1924–25 to decide on the precise delineation of the border between the Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937 ...
was established to decide on the border between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Owing to the outbreak of the
Irish Civil War The Irish Civil War ( ga, Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann; 28 June 1922 – 24 May 1923) was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United ...
, the work of the commission was delayed until 1925. The Free State government and Irish nationalists hoped for a large transfer of territory to the Free State, as many border areas had nationalist majorities, leaving the remaining Northern Ireland too small to be viable. However, the commission's final report recommended only small transfers of territory, and in both directions. The Free State, Northern Ireland and UK governments agreed to suppress the report and accept the ''status quo'', while the UK government agreed that the Free State would no longer have to pay its share of the UK national debt.


1925–1965

Northern Ireland's border was drawn to give it "a decisive Protestant majority". At the time of its creation, Northern Ireland's population was two-thirds Protestant and one-third Catholic. Most Protestants were unionists/loyalists who sought to maintain Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom, while most Catholics were Irish nationalists/republicans who sought an independent
United Ireland United Ireland, also referred to as Irish reunification, is the proposition that all of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from G ...
. There was mutual self-imposed
segregation in Northern Ireland Segregation in Northern Ireland is a long-running issue in the political and social history of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, v ...
between Protestants and Catholics such as in education, housing and often employment.McKittrick & McVea, pp.17–19 For its first fifty years, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments. Almost every minister of these governments were members of the Protestant
Orange Order The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protesta ...
. Almost all judges and magistrates were Protestant, many of them closely associated with the Unionist Party. Northern Ireland's new police force was the
Royal Ulster Constabulary The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was the police The police are a constituted body of persons A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of conscio ...

Royal Ulster Constabulary
(RUC), which succeeded the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
(RIC). It too was almost wholly Protestant and lacked operational independence, responding to directions from government ministers. The RUC and the reserve
Ulster Special Constabulary The Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; commonly called the "B-Specials" or "B Men") was a quasi-military reserve special constable police force in Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the partition of Ireland. It was a ...

Ulster Special Constabulary
(USC) were militarized police forces due to the threat from the IRA. They "had at their disposal the Special Powers Act, a sweeping piece of legislation which allowed arrests without warrant, internment without trial, unlimited search powers and bans on meetings and publications". The
Nationalist PartyNationalist Party may refer to: Current parties * Bangladesh Nationalist Party * Basque Nationalist Party * Cornish Nationalist Party * Nacionalista Party (Philippines) * Nationalist Movement Party (Turkey) * Nationalist Party of Canada * Nationalist ...
was the main political party in opposition to the Unionist governments. However, its elected members often protested by abstaining from the Northern Ireland parliament, and many nationalists did not vote in parliamentary elections. Other early nationalist groups which campaigned against partition included the
National League of the North The National League of the North (NLN) was an Irish nationalist organisation active in Northern Ireland. The group was founded in May 1928 on the basis of a radical programme for the "National Unification of Ireland". It was in part an attempt to ...
(formed in 1928), the Northern Council for Unity (formed in 1937) and the Irish Anti-Partition League (formed in 1945). The Unionist governments, and some unionist-dominated local authorities, were accused of discriminating against the Catholic and Irish nationalist minority; especially over gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, the allocation of public housing, public sector employment, and policing. While some individual accusations were unfounded or exaggerated, there are enough proven cases to show "a consistent and irrefutable pattern of deliberate discrimination against Catholics". In June 1940, to encourage the Irish neutrality, neutral Irish state to join with the Allies of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill indicated to the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera that the United Kingdom would push for Irish unity, but believing that Churchill could not deliver, de Valera declined the offer. The British did not inform the Government of Northern Ireland that they had made the offer to the Dublin government, and de Valera's rejection was not publicised until 1970. The Ireland Act 1949 gave the first legal guarantee that the region would not cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the
Parliament of Northern Ireland The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
. From 1956 to 1962, the Irish Republican Army (1922–1969), Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a limited guerrilla campaign in border areas of Northern Ireland, called the Border campaign (Irish Republican Army), Border Campaign. It aimed to destabilize Northern Ireland and bring about an end to partition, but ended in failure. In 1965, Northern Ireland's Prime Minister Terence O'Neill met the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass. It was the first meeting between the two heads of government since partition.


The Troubles

The Troubles, which started in the late 1960s, consisted of about 30 years of recurring acts of intense violence during which 3,254 people were killed with over 50,000 casualties. From 1969 to 2003 there were over 36,900 shooting incidents and over 16,200 bombings or attempted bombings associated with The Troubles. The conflict was caused by the disputed status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom and the discrimination against the Irish nationalist minority by the dominant Unionism in Ireland, unionist majority. From 1967 to 1972 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), which modelled itself on the US civil rights movement, led a campaign of civil resistance to anti-Catholic discrimination in housing, employment, policing, and electoral procedures. The franchise for local government elections included only rate-payers and their spouses, and so excluded over a quarter of the electorate. While the majority of disenfranchised electors were Protestant, Catholics were over-represented since they were poorer and had more adults still living in the family home. NICRA's campaign, seen by many unionists as an Irish republican front, and the violent reaction to it proved to be a precursor to a more violent period. As early as 1969, armed campaigns of paramilitary groups began, including the Provisional Irish Republican Army campaign, Provisional IRA campaign of 1969–1997 which was aimed at the end of British rule in Northern Ireland and the creation of a
United Ireland United Ireland, also referred to as Irish reunification, is the proposition that all of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from G ...
, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, formed in 1966 in response to the perceived erosion of both the British character and unionist domination of Northern Ireland. The state security forces – the British Army and the police (the
Royal Ulster Constabulary The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was the police The police are a constituted body of persons A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of conscio ...

Royal Ulster Constabulary
) – were also involved in the violence. The British government's position is that its forces were neutral in the conflict, trying to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland and the right of the people of Northern Ireland to democratic self-determination. Republicans regarded the state forces as combatants in the conflict, pointing to the The Troubles#Collusion between security forces and paramilitaries, collusion between the state forces and the loyalist paramilitaries as proof of this. The "Ballast" investigation by the Police Ombudsman has confirmed that British forces, and in particular the RUC, did collude with loyalist paramilitaries, were involved in murder, and did obstruct the course of justice when such claims had been investigated,The Ballast report
: "...the Police Ombudsman has concluded that this was collusion by certain police officers with identified UVF informants."
although the extent to which such collusion occurred is still disputed. As a consequence of the worsening security situation, autonomous regional government for Northern Ireland was suspended in 1972. Alongside the violence, there was a political deadlock between the major political parties in Northern Ireland, including those who condemned violence, over the future status of Northern Ireland and the form of government there should be within Northern Ireland. In 1973, 1973 Northern Ireland border poll, Northern Ireland held a referendum to determine if it should remain in the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland. The vote went heavily in favour (98.9%) of maintaining the status quo. Approximately 57.5% of the total electorate voted in support, but only 1% of Catholics voted following a boycott organised by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).


Peace process

The Troubles were brought to an uneasy end by a peace process which included the declaration of ceasefires by most paramilitary organisations and the complete decommissioning of their weapons, the reform of the police, and the corresponding withdrawal of army troops from the streets and from sensitive border areas such as South Armagh and Fermanagh, as agreed by the signatories to the Belfast Agreement (commonly known as the "
Good Friday Agreement The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement ( ga, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or ; Ulster-Scots: or ), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trio ...
"). This reiterated the long-held British position, which had never before been fully acknowledged by successive Irish governments, that Northern Ireland will remain within the United Kingdom until a majority of voters in Northern Ireland decides otherwise. The Constitution of Ireland was amended in 1999 to remove a claim of the "Irish nation" to sovereignty over the entire island (in Article 2). The new Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland, Articles 2 and 3, added to the Constitution to replace the earlier articles, implicitly acknowledge that the status of Northern Ireland, and its relationships within the rest of the United Kingdom and with the Republic of Ireland, would only be changed with the agreement of a majority of voters in each jurisdiction. This aspect was also central to the Belfast Agreement which was signed in 1998 and ratified by referendums held simultaneously in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. At the same time, the British Government recognised for the first time, as part of the prospective, the so-called "Irish dimension": the principle that the people of the island of Ireland as a whole have the right, without any outside interference, to solve the issues between North and South by mutual consent.Parliamentary debate
: "The British government agree that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish."
The latter statement was key to winning support for the agreement from nationalists. It established a devolved power-sharing government within Northern Ireland, which must consist of both unionist and nationalist parties. These institutions were suspended by the British Government in 2002 after Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) allegations of spying by people working for Sinn Féin at the Assembly (Stormontgate). The resulting case against the accused Sinn Féin member collapsed. On 28 July 2005, the Provisional IRA declared an end to its campaign and has since decommissioned what is thought to be all of its arsenal. This final act of decommissioning was performed under the watch of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) and two external church witnesses. Many unionists, however, remained sceptical. The IICD later confirmed that the main loyalist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defence Association, UVF and the Red Hand Commando, had decommissioned what is thought to be all of their arsenals, witnessed by former archbishop Robin Eames and a former top civil servant. Politicians elected to the Assembly at the 2003 Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2003 Assembly election were called together on 15 May 2006 under the Northern Ireland Act 2006 for the purpose of electing a First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and choosing the members of an Executive (before 25 November 2006) as a preliminary step to the restoration of devolved government. Following the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election, election held on 7 March 2007, devolved government returned on 8 May 2007 with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin deputy leader Martin McGuinness taking office as First Minister and deputy First Minister, respectively. In its white paper on Brexit the United Kingdom government reiterated its commitment to the Belfast Agreement. With regard to Northern Ireland's status, it said that the UK Government's "clearly-stated preference is to retain Northern Ireland’s current constitutional position: as part of the UK, but with strong links to Ireland".


Politics


Background

The main political divide in Northern Ireland is between unionists, who wish to see Northern Ireland continue as part of the United Kingdom, and nationalists, who wish to see Northern Ireland unified with the Republic of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom. These two opposing views are linked to deeper cultural divisions. Unionists are predominantly Ulster Protestant, descendants of mainly Scottish people, Scottish, English, and Huguenot settlers as well as
Gaels The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity An ethnic group or ethnicity is a g ...

Gaels
who converted to one of the Protestant denominations. Nationalists are overwhelmingly Catholic and descend from the population predating the settlement, with a minority from the Scottish Highlands as well as some converts from Protestantism. Discrimination against nationalists under the Parliament Buildings (Northern Ireland), Stormont government (1921–1972) gave rise to the Northern Ireland civil rights movement, civil rights movement in the 1960s. While some unionists argue that discrimination was not just due to religious or political bigotry, but also the result of more complex socio-economic, socio-political and geographical factors, its existence, and the manner in which nationalist anger at it was handled, were a major contributing factor to the Troubles. The political unrest went through its most violent phase between 1968 and 1994. In 2007, 36% of the population defined themselves as unionist, 24% as nationalist and 40% defined themselves as neither. According to a 2015 opinion poll, 70% express a long-term preference of the maintenance of Northern Ireland's membership of the United Kingdom (either Direct rule over Northern Ireland, directly ruled or with Devolution, devolved government), while 14% express a preference for membership of a united Ireland. This discrepancy can be explained by the overwhelming preference among Protestants to remain a part of the UK (93%), while Catholic preferences are spread across a number of solutions to the constitutional question including remaining a part of the UK (47%), a united Ireland (32%), Northern Ireland becoming an independent state (4%), and those who "don't know" (16%). Official voting figures, which reflect views on the "national question" along with issues of candidate, geography, personal loyalty and historic voting patterns, show 54% of Northern Ireland voters vote for unionist parties, 42% vote for nationalist parties and 4% vote "other". Opinion polls consistently show that the election results are not necessarily an indication of the electorate's stance regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Most of the population of Northern Ireland are at least nominally Christian, mostly Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations. Many voters (regardless of religious affiliation) are attracted to unionism's National conservatism, conservative policies, while other voters are instead attracted to the traditionally leftist Sinn Féin and SDLP and their respective party platforms for democratic socialism and social democracy. For the most part, Protestants feel a strong connection with Great Britain and wish for Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Catholics however, generally aspire to a United Ireland or are less certain about how to solve the constitutional question. Protestants have a slight majority in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Northern Ireland Census. The make-up of the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
reflects the appeals of the various parties within the population. Of the 90 Member of the Legislative Assembly (Northern Ireland), Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), 40 are unionists and 39 are nationalists (the remaining 11 are classified as "other").


Governance

Since 1998, Northern Ireland has had devolution, devolved government within the United Kingdom, presided over by the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
and a cross-community government (the Northern Ireland Executive). The UK Government and UK Parliament are responsible for reserved and excepted matters. Reserved matters comprise listed policy areas (such as civil aviation, units of measurement, and human genetics) that Parliament may devolve to the Assembly some time in the future. Excepted matters (such as international relations, taxation and elections) are never expected to be considered for devolution. On all other governmental matters, the Executive together with the 90-member Assembly may legislate for and govern Northern Ireland. Devolution in Northern Ireland is dependent upon participation by members of the Northern Ireland executive in the North/South Ministerial Council, which coordinates areas of co-operation (such as agriculture, education and health) between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, "in recognition of the Irish Government's special interest in Northern Ireland", the Government of Ireland and Government of the United Kingdom co-operate closely on non-devolved matters through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly are by single transferable vote with five Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) elected from each of 18 List of parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland, parliamentary constituencies. In addition, eighteen representatives (Members of Parliament, MPs) are elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, lower house of the UK parliament from the same constituencies using the First-past-the-post voting, first-past-the-post system. However, not all of those elected take their seats. Sinn Féin MPs, currently seven, refuse to take the oath to serve the Queen that is required before MPs are allowed to take their seats. In addition, the upper house of the UK parliament, the House of Lords, currently has some 25 appointed List of Northern Ireland members of the House of Lords, members from Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Office represents the UK government in Northern Ireland on reserved matters and represents Northern Ireland's interests within the UK Government. Additionally, the Republic's government also has the right to "put forward views and proposals" on non-devolved matters in relation to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Office is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction, separate from the two other jurisdictions in the United Kingdom (English law, England and Wales, and Scots law, Scotland). Northern Ireland law developed from Irish law that existed before the partition of Ireland in 1921. Northern Ireland is a common law jurisdiction and its common law is similar to that in England and Wales. However, there are important differences in law and procedure between Northern Ireland and England and Wales. The body of Statutory law, statute law affecting Northern Ireland reflects the history of Northern Ireland, including Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the former
Parliament of Northern Ireland The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
and the Parliament of Ireland, along with some Acts of the Parliament of England and of the Parliament of Great Britain that were extended to Ireland under Poynings' Law (confirmation of English statutes), Poynings' Law between 1494 and 1782.


Descriptions

There is no generally accepted term to describe what Northern Ireland is: province, region, country or something else. The choice of term can be controversial and can reveal the writer's political preferences. This has been noted as a problem by several writers on Northern Ireland, with no generally recommended solution. Owing in part to the way in which the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, came into being, there is no legally defined term to describe what Northern Ireland 'is'. There is also no uniform or guiding way to refer to Northern Ireland amongst the agencies of the UK government. For example, the websites of the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the UK Statistics Authority describe the United Kingdom as being made up of four countries, one of these being Northern Ireland. Other pages on the same websites refer to Northern Ireland specifically as a "province" as do publications of the UK Statistics Authority. The website of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also refers to Northern Ireland as being a province as does the website of the Office of Public Sector Information and other agencies within Northern Ireland. Publications of HM Treasury and the Department of Finance and Personnel of the Northern Ireland Executive, on the other hand, describe Northern Ireland as being a "region of the UK". The UK's submission to the 2007 United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names defines the UK as being made up of two countries (England and Scotland), one principality (Wales) and one province (Northern Ireland). Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland has no history of being an independent country or of being a nation in its own right. Some writers describe the United Kingdom as being made up of three countries and one province or point out the difficulties with calling Northern Ireland a country. Authors writing specifically about Northern Ireland dismiss the idea that Northern Ireland is a "country" in general terms, and draw contrasts in this respect with England, Scotland and Wales. Even for the period covering the first 50 years of Northern Ireland's existence, the term ''country'' is considered inappropriate by some political scientists on the basis that many decisions were still made in London. The absence of a distinct nation of Northern Ireland, separate within the island of Ireland, is also pointed out as being a problem with using the term and is in contrast to England, Scotland, and Wales. Many commentators prefer to use the term "province", although that is also not without problems. It can arouse irritation, particularly among nationalists, for whom the title province is properly reserved for the traditional province of Ulster, of which Northern Ireland comprises six out of nine counties. The BBC style guide is to refer to Northern Ireland as a province, and use of the term is common in literature and newspaper reports on Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Some authors have described the meaning of this term as being equivocal: referring to Northern Ireland as being a province both of the United Kingdom and of the traditional country of Ireland. "Region" is used by several UK government agencies and the European Union. Some authors choose this word but note that it is "unsatisfactory". Northern Ireland can also be simply described as "part of the UK", including by UK government offices.


Alternative names

Many people inside and outside Northern Ireland use other names for Northern Ireland, depending on their point of view. Disagreement on names, and the reading of political symbolism into the use or non-use of a word, also attaches itself to some urban centres. The most notable example is whether Northern Ireland's second largest city should be called Derry-Londonderry name dispute, "Derry" or "Londonderry". Choice of language and nomenclature in Northern Ireland often reveals the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of the speaker. Those who do not belong to any group but lean towards one side often tend to use the language of that group. Supporters of unionism in the British media (notably ''The Daily Telegraph'' and the ''Daily Express'') regularly call Northern Ireland "Ulster". Many media outlets in the Republic use "North of Ireland" (or simply "the North"), as well as the "Six Counties". ''The New York Times'' has also used "the North". Government and cultural organisations in Northern Ireland often use the word "Ulster" in their title; for example, the University of Ulster, the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Orchestra, and BBC Radio Ulster. Although some news bulletins since the 1990s have opted to avoid all contentious terms and use the official name, Northern Ireland, the term "the North" remains commonly used by broadcast media in the Republic.


Unionist

* Ulster, strictly speaking, refers to the province of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative ...

Ulster
, of which six of nine historical counties are in Northern Ireland. The term "Ulster" is widely used by unionists and the British press as shorthand for Northern Ireland, and is also favoured by Ulster nationalism, Ulster nationalists. In the past, calls have been made for Northern Ireland's name to be changed to Ulster. This proposal was formally considered by the Government of Northern Ireland in 1937 and by the UK Government in 1949 but no change was made. * The Province refers to the historic Irish province of Ulster but today is used by some as shorthand for Northern Ireland. The BBC, in its editorial guidance for ''Reporting the United Kingdom'', states that "the Province" is an appropriate secondary synonym for Northern Ireland, while "Ulster" is not. It also suggests that "people of Northern Ireland" is preferred to "British" or "Irish", and the term "mainland" should be avoided in reference to Great Britain in relation to Northern Ireland.


Nationalist

* North of Ireland – used to avoid using the name given by the British-enacted Government of Ireland Act 1920. * The Six Counties () – the Republic of Ireland is similarly described as the Twenty-Six Counties. Some of the users of these terms contend that using the official name of the region would imply acceptance of the legitimacy of the Government of Ireland Act. * The Occupied Six Counties – used by some republicans. The Republic, whose legitimacy is similarly not recognised by republicans opposed to the Belfast Agreement, is described as the "Free State", referring to the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
, which gained independence (as a Dominion) in 1922. * British-Occupied Ireland – Similar in tone to the Occupied Six Counties, this term is used by more dogmatic republicans, such as Republican Sinn Féin, who still hold that the Second Dáil was the last legitimate government of Ireland and that all governments since have been foreign-imposed usurpations of Irish national self-determination.


Other

* Norn Iron or "Norniron" – is an informal and affectionate local nickname used to refer to Northern Ireland, derived from the pronunciation of the words "Northern Ireland" in an exaggerated Ulster accent (particularly one from the greater Belfast area). The phrase is seen as a lighthearted way to refer to Northern Ireland, based as it is on regional pronunciation. It often refers to the
Northern Ireland national football team The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team (1882–1950), Ireland natio ...
.


Geography and climate

Northern Ireland was covered by an ice sheet for most of the Quaternary glaciation, last ice age and on numerous previous occasions, the legacy of which can be seen in the extensive coverage of drumlins in Counties Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and particularly Down. The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh, at the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin Island, Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering . There are substantial uplands in the Sperrin Mountains (an extension of the Caledonian orogeny, Caledonian mountain belt) with extensive gold deposits, granite Mourne Mountains and basalt Antrim Plateau, as well as smaller ranges in County Armagh, South Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. None of the hills are especially high, with Slieve Donard in the dramatic Mournes reaching , Northern Ireland's highest point. Belfast's most prominent peak is Cavehill. The volcanic activity which created the Antrim Plateau also formed the geometric pillars of the Giant's Causeway on the north Antrim coast. Also in north Antrim are the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Mussenden Temple and the Glens of Antrim. The Lower and Upper River Bann, River Foyle and River Blackwater, Northern Ireland, River Blackwater form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry. The valley of the River Lagan is dominated by Belfast, whose metropolitan area includes over a third of the population of Northern Ireland, with heavy urbanisation and industrialisation along the Lagan Valley and both shores of Belfast Lough. The vast majority of Northern Ireland has a maritime climate, temperate maritime climate, (''Cfb'' in the Köppen climate classification) rather wetter in the west than the east, although cloud cover is very common across the region. The weather is unpredictable at all times of the year, and although the seasons are distinct, they are considerably less pronounced than in interior Europe or the eastern seaboard of North America. Average daytime maximums in Belfast are in January and in July. The highest maximum temperature recorded was , registered in July 2021 at Armagh Observatory, Armagh Observatory's weather station. The lowest minimum temperature recorded was at Castlederg, County Tyrone on 23 December 2010. Northern Ireland is the least forested part of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and one of the least forested parts of Europe. Until the end of the Middle Ages, the land was heavily forested with native trees such as oak, Fraxinus excelsior, ash, Corylus avellana, hazel, birch, Alnus glutinosa, alder, willow, Populus tremula, aspen, Wych elm, elm, Sorbus aucuparia, rowan, Taxus baccata, yew and Scots pine. Today, only 8% of Northern Ireland is woodland, and most of this is non-native conifer plantations.


Counties

Northern Ireland consists of six historic Counties of Ireland, counties: County Antrim, County Armagh, County Down, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, and County Tyrone. These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead, there are eleven districts of Northern Ireland which have different geographical extents. These were created in 2015, replacing the twenty-six districts which previously existed. Although counties are no longer used for local governmental purposes, they remain a popular means of describing where places are. They are officially used while applying for an Irish passport, which requires one to state one's county of birth. The name of that county then appears in both Irish and English on the passport's information page, as opposed to the town or city of birth on the United Kingdom passport. The Gaelic Athletic Association still uses the counties as its primary means of organisation and fields representative teams of each GAA county. The original system of License plates of Northern Ireland, car registration numbers largely based on counties still remains in use. In 2000, the Big Number Change#Northern Ireland, telephone numbering system was restructured into an 8 digit scheme with (except for Belfast) the first digit approximately reflecting the county. The county boundaries still appear on Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Maps and the Philip's Street Atlases, among others. With their decline in official use, there is often confusion surrounding towns and cities which lie near county boundaries, such as Belfast and
Lisburn Lisburn (; "Lisburn/Lios na gCearrbhach"
.

Lisburn
, which are split between counties Down and Antrim (the majorities of both cities, however, are in Antrim). In March 2018, ''The Sunday Times'' published its list of Best Places to Live in Britain, including the following places in Northern Ireland: Ballyhackamore near Belfast (overall best for Northern Ireland), Holywood, County Down, Newcastle, County Down, Portrush, County Antrim, Strangford, County Down.


Cities and major towns


Economy

Northern Ireland has traditionally had an industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services, primarily the public sector. Seventy percent of the economy's revenue comes from the service sector. Apart from the public sector, another important service sector is tourism, which rose to account for over 1% of the economy's revenue in 2004. Tourism has been a major growth area since the end of the Troubles. Key tourism attractions include the historic cities of Derry, Belfast and Armagh and the many castles in Northern Ireland. The local economy has seen contraction during the Great Recession. The Executive wishes to gain taxation powers from London, to align Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate with the that of the Republic of Ireland. As in all of the UK, the economy of Northern Ireland was negatively impacted by the lockdowns and travel restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism and hospitality industry was particularly hard hit. These sectors "have been mandated to close since 26 December 2020, with a very limited number of exceptions" and many restrictions were continuing into April 2021. Hotels and other accommodations, for example, "closed apart from only for work-related stays". Some restrictions were expected to be loosened in mid April but tourism was expected to remain very limited.


Transport

Northern Ireland has underdeveloped Transport in Northern Ireland, transport infrastructure, with most infrastructure concentrated around Greater Belfast, Greater Derry and Craigavon. Northern Ireland is served by three airports – Belfast International Airport, Belfast International near Antrim, County Antrim, Antrim, George Best Belfast City Airport, George Best Belfast City integrated into the railway network at Sydenham railway station, Northern Ireland, Sydenham in East Belfast, and City of Derry Airport, City of Derry in County Londonderry. Major seaports at Larne and Port of Belfast, Belfast carry passengers and freight between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Passenger railways are operated by Northern Ireland Railways. With Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), Northern Ireland Railways co-operates in providing the joint Enterprise (train), Enterprise service between Dublin Connolly and Lanyon Place railway station, Lanyon Place. The whole of Ireland has a mainline railway network with a Track gauge in Ireland, gauge of , which is unique in Europe and has resulted in distinct rolling stock designs. The only preserved line of this gauge on the island is the Downpatrick and County Down Railway, which operates heritage steam and diesel locomotives. Main railway lines linking to and from Belfast Great Victoria Street railway station and Lanyon Place railway station are: * The Belfast–Derry railway line, Derry Line and the Portrush Branch. * The Larne Line * The Bangor Line * The Portadown railway station, Portadown Line Main motorways are: * M1 motorway (Northern Ireland), M1 connecting Belfast to the south and west, ending in Dungannon * M2 motorway (Northern Ireland), M2 connecting Belfast to the north. An unconnected section of the M2 motorway (Northern Ireland), M2 also by-passes Ballymena Additional short motorway spurs include: * M12 motorway (Northern Ireland), M12 connecting the M1 motorway (Northern Ireland), M1 to Portadown * M22 motorway (Northern Ireland), M22 connecting the M2 motorway (Northern Ireland), M2 to near Randalstown * M3 motorway (Northern Ireland), M3 connecting the M1 (via the Westlink (road), A12) and M2 in Belfast with the A2 dual carriageway to Bangor, County Down, Bangor * M5 motorway (Northern Ireland), M5 connecting Belfast to Newtownabbey The cross-border road connecting the ports of Larne in Northern Ireland and Rosslare Harbour in the Republic of Ireland is being upgraded as part of an EU-funded scheme. European route E01 runs from Larne through the island of Ireland, Spain and Portugal to Seville.


Demographics

The population of Northern Ireland has risen yearly since 1978. The population in 2011 was 1.8 million, having grown 7.5% over the previous decade from just under 1.7 million in 2001. This constitutes just under 3% of the population of the UK (62 million) and just over 28% of the population of the island of Ireland (6.3 million). The population density is 132 inhabitants / km2. Most of the population of Northern Ireland lives concentrated in its five largest cities:
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
(capital), Derry,
Lisburn Lisburn (; "Lisburn/Lios na gCearrbhach"
.

Lisburn
, Newtownabbey and Bangor (Northern Ireland), Bangor. The population of Northern Ireland is almost entirely White people, white (98.2%). In 2011, 88.8% of the population were born in Northern Ireland, with 4.5% born elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and 2.9% born in the Republic of Ireland. 4.3% were born elsewhere; triple the amount there were in 2001. Most are from Eastern Europe. The largest non-white ethnic groups were Overseas Chinese, Chinese (6,300) and Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin, Indian (6,200). Black people of various origins made up 0.2% of the 2011 population and people of mixed ethnicity made up 0.2%.


Religion

At the 2011 census, 41.5% of the population identified as Protestant/non-Roman Catholic Christian, 41% as Roman Catholicism in Ireland, Roman Catholic, and 0.8% as non-Christian, while 17% identified with no religion or did not state one.Census 2011 The biggest of the Protestant/non-Roman Catholic Christian denominations were the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Presbyterian Church (19%), the Church of Ireland (14%) and the Methodist Church in Ireland, Methodist Church (3%). In terms of community background (i.e. religion or religion brought up in), 48% of the population came from a Protestant background, 45% from a Catholic background, 0.9% from non-Christian backgrounds, and 5.6% from non-religious backgrounds.


Citizenship and identity

In the 2011 census in Northern Ireland respondents gave their national identity as follows. Several studies and surveys carried out between 1971 and 2006 have indicated that, in general, most Protestants in Northern Ireland see themselves primarily as British, whereas a majority of Roman Catholics regard themselves primarily as Irish. This does not, however, account for the People of Northern Ireland, complex identities within Northern Ireland, given that many of the population regard themselves as "Ulster" or "Northern Irish", either as a primary or secondary identity. Overall, the Catholic population is somewhat more ethnically diverse than the more homogeneous Protestant population. 83.1% of Protestants identified as "British" or with a British ethnic group (English, Scottish, or Welsh) in the 2011 Census, whereas only 3.9% identified as "Irish". Meanwhile, 13.7% of Catholics identified as "British" or with a British ethnic group. A further 4.4% identified as "all other", which are largely immigrants, for example from Poland. A 2008 survey found that 57% of Protestants described themselves as British, while 32% identified as Northern Irish, 6% as Ulster and 4% as Irish. Compared to a similar survey carried out in 1998, this shows a fall in the percentage of Protestants identifying as British and Ulster and a rise in those identifying as Northern Irish. The 2008 survey found that 61% of Catholics described themselves as Irish, with 25% identifying as Northern Irish, 8% as British and 1% as Ulster. These figures were largely unchanged from the 1998 results. People born in Northern Ireland are, with some exceptions, deemed by UK law to be British nationality law, citizens of the United Kingdom. They are also, with similar exceptions, entitled to be Irish nationality law, citizens of Ireland. This entitlement was reaffirmed in the 1998
Good Friday Agreement The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement ( ga, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or ; Ulster-Scots: or ), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles The Troubles ( ga, Na Trio ...
between the British and Irish governments, which provides that:
...it is the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly [the two governments] confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.
As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland, Constitution of the Republic of Ireland was amended. The current wording provides that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens on the same basis as people from any other part of the island. Neither government, however, extends its citizenship to all persons born in Northern Ireland. Both governments exclude some people born in Northern Ireland, in particular persons born without one parent who is a British or Irish citizen. The Irish restriction was given effect by the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, twenty-seventh amendment to the Irish Constitution in 2004. The position in UK nationality law is that most of those born in Northern Ireland are UK nationals, whether or not they so choose. Renunciation of British citizenship requires the payment of a fee, currently £372. In the United Kingdom Census 2011, 2011 census in Northern Ireland respondents stated that they held the following passports.


Languages

English is spoken as a first language by almost all of the Northern Ireland population. It is the ''de facto'' official language and the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737 prohibits the use of languages other than English in legal proceedings. Under the Belfast Agreement, Good Friday Agreement, Irish and Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots (an Ulster dialect of the Scots language, sometimes known as ''Ullans''), are recognised as "part of the cultural wealth of Northern Ireland". Two all-island bodies for the promotion of these were created under the Agreement: ''Foras na Gaeilge'', which promotes the Irish language, and the Ulster Scots Agency, which promotes the Ulster Scots dialect and culture. These operate separately under the aegis of the North/South Language Body, which reports to the North/South Ministerial Council. The British government in 2001 ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Irish (in Northern Ireland) was specified under Part III of the Charter, with a range of specific undertakings in relation to education, translation of statutes, interaction with public authorities, the use of placenames, media access, support for cultural activities and other matters. A lower level of recognition was accorded to Ulster Scots, under Part II of the Charter.


English

The dialect of English spoken in Northern Ireland shows influence from the lowland Scots language. There are supposedly some minute differences in pronunciation between Protestants and Catholics, for instance; the name of the letter ''h'', which Protestants tend to pronounce as "aitch", as in British English, and Catholics tend to pronounce as "haitch", as in Hiberno-English. However, geography is a much more important determinant of dialect than religious background.


Irish

The Irish language ( ga, an Ghaeilge), or ''Gaelic'', is a native language of Ireland. It was spoken predominantly throughout what is now Northern Ireland before the Ulster Plantations in the 17th century and most place names in Northern Ireland are anglicised versions of a Gaelic name. Today, the language is often associated with Irish nationalism (and thus with Catholics). However, in the 19th century, the language was seen as a common heritage, with Ulster Protestants playing a leading role in the Gaelic revival. In the 2011 census, 11% of the population of Northern Ireland claimed "some knowledge of Irish" and 3.7% reported being able to "speak, read, write and understand" Irish. In another survey, from 1999, 1% of respondents said they spoke it as their main language at home.Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES Survey
What is the main language spoken in your own home?
The dialect spoken in Northern Ireland, Ulster Irish, has two main types, East Ulster Irish and Donegal Irish (or West Ulster Irish), is the one closest to Scottish Gaelic (which developed into a separate language from Irish Gaelic in the 17th century). Some words and phrases are shared with Scots Gaelic, and the dialects of east Ulster – those of Rathlin Island and the Glens of Antrim – were very similar to the dialect of Argyll, the part of Scotland nearest to Ireland. And those dialects of Armagh and Down were also very similar to the dialects of Galloway. Use of the Irish language in Northern Ireland today is politically sensitive. The erection by some Local government in Northern Ireland, district councils of bilingual street names in both English and Irish, invariably in predominantly nationalist districts, is resisted by unionists who claim that it creates a "chill factor" and thus harms community relationships. Efforts by members of the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
to legislate for some official uses of the language have failed to achieve the required cross-community support, and the UK government has declined to legislate. There has recently been an increase in interest in the language among unionists in East Belfast.


Ulster Scots

Ulster Scots comprises varieties of the Scots language spoken in Northern Ireland. For a native English speaker, "[Ulster Scots] is comparatively accessible, and even at its most intense can be understood fairly easily with the help of a glossary."Aodan Mac Poilin, 1999
"Language, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland"
in Ulster Folk Life Vol. 45, 1999
Along with the Irish language, the Good Friday Agreement recognised the dialect as part of Northern Ireland's unique culture and the St Andrews Agreement recognised the need to "enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture". Approximately 2% of the population claim to speak Ulster Scots. However, the number speaking it as their main language in their home is negligible, with only 0.9% of 2011 census respondents claiming to be able to speak, read, write and understand Ulster-Scots. 8.1% professed to have "some ability" however.


Sign languages

The most common sign language in Northern Ireland is Northern Ireland Sign Language (NISL). However, because in the past Catholic families tended to send their deaf children to schools in Dublin where Irish Sign Language (ISL) is commonly used, ISL is still common among many older deaf people from Catholic families. Irish Sign Language (ISL) has some influence from the French family of sign language, which includes American Sign Language (ASL). NISL takes a large component from the British family of sign language (which also includes Auslan) with many borrowings from ASL. It is described as being related to Irish Sign Language at the syntactic level while much of the lexicon is based on British Sign Language (BSL). the British Government recognises only British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used in Northern Ireland.


Culture

Northern Ireland shares both the
culture of Ireland The culture of Ireland includes Irish language, language, Irish literature, literature, Music of Ireland, music, Irish art, art, Irish mythology, folklore, Irish cuisine, cuisine, and Sport in Ireland, sport associated with Ireland and the Irish ...
and the
culture of the United Kingdom British culture is influenced by the combined nations' history; its historically Christian religious life A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to ...
. Parades in Northern Ireland, Parades are a prominent feature of Northern Ireland society, more so than in the rest of Ireland or in Britain. Most are held by Protestant fraternities such as the
Orange Order The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protesta ...
, and Ulster loyalist marching bands. Each summer, during the "marching season", these groups have hundreds of parades, Northern Ireland flags issue, deck streets with British flags, bunting and specially-made arches, and light large towering bonfires in the Eleventh Night, "Eleventh Night" celebrations.Bryan, Dominic. ''Orange Parades: The Politics of Ritual, Tradition and Control''. Pluto Press, 2000. p. 130 The biggest parades are held on 12 July (The Twelfth). There is often tension when these activities take place near Catholic neighbourhoods, which sometimes leads to violence. Since the end of the Troubles, Northern Ireland has witnessed rising numbers of tourists. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, public houses, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing). Since 1987 public houses have been allowed to open on Sundays, despite some opposition. The Ulster Cycle is a large body of prose and verse centring on the traditional heroes of the Ulaid in what is now eastern Ulster. This is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology. The cycle centres on the reign of Conchobar mac Nessa, who is said to have been king of Ulster around the 1st century. He ruled from Emain Macha (now Navan Fort near Armagh), and had a fierce rivalry with queen Medb and king Ailill of Connacht and their ally, Fergus mac Róich, former king of Ulster. The foremost hero of the cycle is Conchobar's nephew Cúchulainn, who features in the epic poetry, epic prose/poem ''An Táin Bó Cúailnge'' (The Cattle Raid of Cooley, a ''casus belli'' between Ulster and Connaught).


Symbols

Northern Ireland comprises a patchwork of communities whose national loyalties are represented in some areas by flags flown from flagpoles or lamp posts. The Union Jack and the former flag of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland flag are flown in many loyalist areas, and the Tricolour, adopted by republicans as the flag of Ireland in 1916, is flown in some republican areas. Even kerbstones in some areas are painted red-white-blue or green-white-orange, depending on whether local people express unionist/loyalist or nationalist/republican sympathies. The official flag is that of the state having sovereignty over the territory, i.e. the Union Flag. The former Northern Ireland flag, also known as the "Ulster Banner" or "Red Hand Flag", is a banner derived from the coat of arms of the Government of Northern Ireland until 1972. Since 1972, it has had no official status. The Union Flag and the Ulster Banner are used exclusively by unionists. UK flags policy states that in Northern Ireland, "The Ulster flag and the Saint Patrick's Saltire, Cross of St Patrick have no official status and, under the Flags Regulations, are not permitted to be flown from Government Buildings." The Irish Rugby Football Union and the Church of Ireland have used the Saint Patrick's Saltire or "Cross of St Patrick". This red saltire on a white field was used to represent Ireland in the flag of the United Kingdom. It is still used by some British army regiments. Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinian territories, Palestinian flags in some nationalist areas and Israeli flags in some unionist areas. The United Kingdom national anthem of "God Save the Queen" is often played at state events in Northern Ireland. At the
Commonwealth Games The Commonwealth Games, often referred to as the ''Friendly Games'', is an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational games and play *Sporting (neighborhood), in ...
and some other sporting events, the Northern Ireland team uses the Ulster Banner as its flag—notwithstanding its lack of official status—and the ''Londonderry Air'' (usually set to lyrics as ''Danny Boy''), which also has no official status, as its national anthem. The
Northern Ireland national football team The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team (1882–1950), Ireland natio ...
also uses the Ulster Banner as its flag but uses "God Save The Queen" as its anthem. Major Gaelic Athletic Association matches are opened by the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland, "Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song)", which is also used by most other all-Ireland sporting organisations. Since 1995, the Ireland rugby union team has used a specially commissioned song, "Ireland's Call" as the team's anthem. The Irish national anthem is also played at Dublin home matches, being the anthem of the host country. Northern Irish murals have become well-known features of Northern Ireland, depicting past and present events and documenting peace and cultural diversity. Almost 2,000 murals have been documented in Northern Ireland since the 1970s.


Sport

In Northern Ireland, sport is popular and important in the lives of many people. Sports tend to be organised on an all-Ireland basis, with a single team for the whole island.How do other sports in the island cope with the situation?
The Herald, 3 April 2008
The most notable exception is association football, which has separate governing bodies for each jurisdiction.


Field sports


Association football

The Irish Football Association (IFA) serves as the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland, with the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) responsible for the independent administration of the three divisions of national domestic football, as well as the Northern Ireland Football League Cup. The highest level of competition within Northern Ireland are the NIFL Premiership and the NIFL Championship. However, many players from Northern Ireland compete with clubs in England and Scotland. NIFL clubs are semi-professional or Intermediate.NIFL Premiership clubs are also eligible to compete in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League with the league champions entering the UEFA Champions League, Champions league second qualifying round and the 2nd placed league finisher, the European play-off winners and the Irish Cup winners entering the Europa League second qualifying round. No clubs have ever reached the group stage. Despite Northern Ireland's small population, the Northern Ireland national football team qualified for the 1958 FIFA World Cup, 1982 FIFA World Cup and 1986 FIFA World Cup, making it to the quarter-finals in 1958 and 1982 and made it the first knockout round in the UEFA European Championship, European Championships in 2016.


Rugby union

The six counties of Northern Ireland are among the nine governed by the Ulster Rugby, Ulster branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union, the governing body of rugby union in Ireland. Ulster is one of the four professional provincial teams in Ireland and competes in the United Rugby Championship and Heineken Cup, European Cup. It won the European Cup in 1999. In international competitions, the Ireland national rugby union team's recent successes include four Triple Crown (rugby union), Triple Crowns between 2004 and 2009 and a Grand Slam (rugby union), Grand Slam in 2009 in the Six Nations Championship.


Cricket

The Ireland cricket team represents both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is a full member of the International Cricket Council, having been granted Test cricket, Test status and full membership by the ICC in June 2017. The side competes in Test cricket, the highest level of competitive cricket in the international arena, and are one of the 12 full-member countries of the ICC. Ireland men's side has played in the Ireland at the Cricket World Cup, Cricket World Cup and ICC Men's T20 World Cup, T20 World Cup and has won the ICC Intercontinental Cup four times. The Ireland women's cricket team, women's side has played in the Women's Cricket World Cup, Women's World Cup. One of the men's side's regular international venues is Stormont (cricket ground), Stormont in Belfast.


Gaelic games

Gaelic games include Gaelic football, hurling (and camogie), Gaelic handball and rounders. Of the four, football is the most popular in Northern Ireland. Players play for local clubs with the best being selected for their county teams. The Ulster GAA is the branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association that is responsible for the nine counties of Ulster, which include the six of Northern Ireland. These nine county teams participate in the Ulster Senior Football Championship, Ulster Senior Hurling Championship, All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Recent successes for Northern Ireland teams include Armagh GAA, Armagh's 2002 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship win and Tyrone GAA's wins in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2021.


Golf

Perhaps Northern Ireland's most notable successes in professional sport have come in golf. Northern Ireland has contributed more major champions in the modern era than any other European country, with three in the space of just 14 months from the U.S. Open (golf), U.S. Open in 2010 U.S. Open (golf), 2010 to The Open Championship in 2011 Open Championship, 2011. Notable golfers include Fred Daly (golfer), Fred Daly (winner of The Open in 1947 Open Championship, 1947), Ryder Cup players Ronan Rafferty and David Feherty, leading European Tour professionals David Jones (golfer), David Jones, Michael Hoey (golfer), Michael Hoey (a five-time winner on the tour) and Gareth Maybin, as well as three recent major winners Graeme McDowell (winner of the U.S. Open in 2010, the first European to do so since 1970), Rory McIlroy (winner of four Men's major golf championships, majors) and Darren Clarke (winner of The Open in 2011). Northern Ireland has also contributed several players to the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, including Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler who played on the victorious 2011 team in Scotland. Dunbar also won The Amateur Championship in 2012, at Royal Troon. The Golfing Union of Ireland, the governing body for men's and boy's amateur golf throughout Ireland and the oldest golfing union in the world, was founded in Belfast in 1891. Northern Ireland's golf courses include the Royal Belfast Golf Club (the earliest, formed in 1881), Royal Portrush Golf Club, which is the only course outside Great Britain to have hosted The Open Championship, and Royal County Down Golf Club (''Golf Digest'' magazine's top-rated course outside the United States).


Snooker

Northern Ireland has produced two world snooker champions; Alex Higgins, who won the title in 1972 and 1982, and Dennis Taylor, who won in 1985. The highest-ranked Northern Ireland professional on the world circuit presently is Mark Allen (snooker player), Mark Allen from County Antrim. The sport is governed locally by the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association who run regular ranking tournaments and competitions.


Motorsport


Motorcycle racing

Motorcycle racing is a particularly popular sport during the summer months, with the main meetings of the season attracting some of the largest crowds to any outdoor sporting event in the whole of
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Ireland
. Two of the three major international road race meetings are held in Northern Ireland, these being the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix. In addition racing on purpose built circuits take place at Kirkistown Circuit, Kirkistown and Bishop's Court, whilst smaller road race meetings are held such as the Cookstown, Cookstown 100, the Armoy, County Antrim, Armoy Road Races and the Tandragee 100 all of which form part of the Irish National Road Race Championships and which have produced some of the greatest motorcycle racers in the history of the sport, notably Joey Dunlop.


Motor racing

Although Northern Ireland lacks an international automobile racecourse, two Northern Irish drivers have finished inside the top two of Formula One, with John Watson (racing driver), John Watson achieving the feat in the 1982 Formula One season and Eddie Irvine doing the same in 1999 Formula One season. The largest course and the only Motor Sports Association-licensed track for UK-wide competition is Kirkistown Circuit.


Rugby league

The Ireland national rugby league team has participated in the Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament, Emerging Nations Tournament (1995), the Super League World Nines (1996), the World Cup (2000 and 2008), European Nations Cup (since 2003) and Victory Cup (2004). The Ireland A rugby league team compete annually in the Amateur Four Nations competition (since 2002) and the St Patrick's Day Challenge (since 1995).


Ice hockey

The Belfast Giants have competed in the Elite Ice Hockey League since the 2000–01 season and are the sole Northern Irish team in the league. The team's roster has featured Northern Irish born players such as Mark Morrison (ice hockey, born 1982), Mark Morrison, Graeme Walton and Gareth Roberts (ice hockey), Gareth Roberts among others. Geraldine Heaney, an Olympic gold medalist and one of the first women inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame, competed internationally for Canada women's national ice hockey team, Canada but was born in Northern Ireland. Owen Nolan, (born 12 February 1972) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player born in Northern Ireland. He was drafted 1st overall in the 1990 NHL Draft by the Quebec Nordiques.


Professional wrestling

In 2007, after the closure of UCW (Ulster Championship Wrestling) which was a wrestling promotion, PWU formed, standing for Pro Wrestling Ulster. The wrestling promotion features championships, former List of WWE personnel, WWE superstars and local independent wrestlers. Events and IPPV's throughout Northern Ireland.


Education

Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of primary school, many children sit entrance examinations for Grammar schools in the United Kingdom, grammar schools. Integrated Education, Integrated schools, which attempt to ensure a balance in enrolment between pupils of Protestant, Roman Catholic and other faiths (or none), are becoming increasingly popular, although Northern Ireland still has a primarily ''de facto'' religiously segregated education system. In the primary school sector, 40 schools (8.9% of the total number) are integrated schools and 32 (7.2% of the total number) are Gaelscoileanna (Irish language-medium schools). The main universities in Northern Ireland are Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University, and the distance learning Open University which has a regional office in Belfast.


Wildlife

356 species of marine algae have been recorded in the north-east of Ireland. As Counties Londonderry, Antrim and Down are the only three counties of Northern Ireland with a shoreline this will apply to all Northern Ireland. 77 species are considered rare having been recorded rarely.


Media and communications

The BBC has a division called BBC Northern Ireland with headquarters in Belfast and operates BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Two Northern Ireland. As well as broadcasting standard UK-wide programmes, BBC NI produces local content, including a news break-out called BBC Newsline. The ITV (TV network), ITV franchise in Northern Ireland is UTV (TV channel), UTV. The state-owned Channel 4 and the privately owned Channel 5 (British TV channel), Channel 5 also broadcast in Northern Ireland. Access is also available to satellite and cable services. All Northern Ireland viewers must obtain a UK Television licensing in the United Kingdom, TV licence to watch live television transmissions or use BBC iPlayer. Raidió Teilifís Éireann, RTÉ, the national broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland, is available over the air to most parts of Northern Ireland via reception overspill of the Republic's Saorview service, or via satellite and cable. Since the digital TV switchover, RTÉ One, RTÉ2 and the Irish-language channel TG4, are now available over the air on the UK's Freeview (UK), Freeview system from transmitters within Northern Ireland. Although they are transmitted in standard definition, a Freeview HD box or television is required for reception. As well as the standard UK-wide radio stations from the BBC, Northern Ireland is home to many local radio stations, such as Cool FM, Belfast CityBeat, and Q102.9. The BBC has two regional radio stations which broadcast in Northern Ireland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle. Besides the UK and Irish national newspapers, there are three main regional newspapers published in Northern Ireland. These are the ''Belfast Telegraph'', ''The Irish News'' and ''The News Letter''. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (UK) the average daily circulation for these three titles in 2018 was: : Northern Ireland uses the same telecommunications and postal services as the rest of the United Kingdom at standard domestic rates and there are no mobile roaming charges between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland who live close to the border with the Republic of Ireland may inadvertently switch over to the Irish mobile networks, causing international roaming fees to be applied. Calls from landlines in Northern Ireland to numbers in the Republic of Ireland are charged at the same rate as those to numbers in Great Britain, while landline numbers in Northern Ireland can similarly be called from the Republic of Ireland at domestic rates, using the Telephone numbers in the Republic of Ireland#Calls to Northern Ireland, 048 prefix.


See also

* List of Ulster-related topics * Outline of Northern Ireland * Outline of the United Kingdom


Notes


References


Further reading

* Jonathan Bardon, ''A History of Ulster'' (Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1992), * Brian E. Barton, ''The Government of Northern Ireland, 1920–1923'' (Athol Books, 1980) * Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson '' The State in Northern Ireland, 1921–72: Political Forces and Social Classes, Manchester'' (Manchester University Press, 1979) * * Robert Kee, ''The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism'' (Penguin, 1972–2000), * Osborne Morton, ''Marine Algae of Northern Ireland'' (Ulster Museum, Belfast, 1994), * Henry Patterson, ''Ireland Since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict'' (Penguin, 2006), * P. Hackney (ed.) ''Stewart's and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland'' 3rd edn. (Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University of Belfast, 1992), (HB)


External links


Northern Ireland Executive
(Northern Ireland
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
government)
Northern Ireland Office
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Discover Northern Ireland
(Northern Ireland Tourist Board) * {{coord, 54, 40, N, 6, 40, W, region:GB-NIR_type:adm1st, display=title Northern Ireland, English-speaking countries and territories History of Northern Ireland Home rule in Ireland, Ireland, Northern Island countries NUTS 1 statistical regions of the European Union NUTS 1 statistical regions of the United Kingdom NUTS 2 statistical regions of the United Kingdom States and territories established in 1921 United Kingdom by country 1921 establishments in Northern Ireland