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Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(although it is also described by official sources as a province or a region ), situated in the northeast of the island of Ireland
Ireland
. It was created as a separate legal entity on 3 May 1921, under the Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act 1920 . The new autonomous Northern Ireland was formed from six of the nine counties of Ulster
Ulster
: four counties with unionist majorities and two counties, Fermanagh
Fermanagh
and Tyrone
Tyrone
, which had slight Irish nationalist majorities (of 53.6% and 54.6% respectively in the 1918 election ). The remaining three Ulster counties with larger nationalist majorities were not included. In large part unionists, at least in the northeast, supported its creation while nationalists were opposed.

CONTENTS

* 1 Resistance to Home Rule
Home Rule
* 2 1916 Rising and aftermath * 3 Partition * 4 Early years of Home Rule
Home Rule
* 5 1925–65

* 6 The Troubles
The Troubles

* 6.1 Beginnings * 6.2 1972–74 * 6.3 1975–98

* 7 The Good Friday Agreement and beyond * 8 See also * 9 References * 10 Further reading * 11 External links

RESISTANCE TO HOME RULE

From the late 19th century, the majority of people living in Ireland wanted the British government
British government
to grant some form of self-rule to Ireland. The Irish Nationalist Party sometimes held the balance of power in the House of Commons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a position from which it sought to gain Home Rule
Home Rule
, which would have given Ireland
Ireland
autonomy in internal affairs, without breaking up the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
. Two bills granting Home Rule
Home Rule
to Ireland
Ireland
were passed by the House of Commons in 1886 and 1893, but rejected by the House of Lords
House of Lords
. With the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 by the Liberal Party government (which reduced the powers of the Lords from striking down parliamentary Bills to delaying their implementation for two years) it was apparent that Home Rule
Home Rule
would probably come into force in the next five years. The Home Rule
Home Rule
Party had been campaigning for this for almost fifty years.

However, a significant minority was vehemently opposed to the idea and wished to retain the Union in its existing form. Irish unionists had been agitating successfully against Home Rule
Home Rule
since the 1880s, and on 28 September 1912, the leader of the northern unionists, Edward Carson , introduced the Ulster
Ulster
Covenant in Belfast
Belfast
, pledging to exclude Ulster
Ulster
from home rule. The Covenant was signed by 450,000 men, some in their own blood. Whilst precipitating a split with unionists in the south and west (including a particularly sizeable community in Dublin
Dublin
), it gave the northern unionists a feasible goal to aim for.

By the early 20th century, Belfast
Belfast
(the largest city in Ulster) had become the largest city in Ireland. Its industrial economy, with strong engineering and shipbuilding sectors, was closely integrated with that of Great Britain. Belfast
Belfast
was a substantially Ulster Protestant town with a Catholic
Catholic
minority of less than 30%, concentrated in the west of the city.

A third Home Rule
Home Rule
Bill was introduced by the Liberal minority government in 1912. However, the Conservative Party was sympathetic to the unionist case, and the political voice of unionism was strong in Parliament. After heavy amendment by the House of Lords, the Commons agreed in 1914 to allow four counties of Ulster
Ulster
to vote themselves out of its provisions and then only for six years. Throughout 1913 and 1914, paramilitary "volunteer armies" were recruited and armed, firstly the unionist Ulster
Ulster
Volunteer Force (UVF), and in response, the nationalist Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
. But events in Europe were to take precedence: in what was to be the opening shot of World War I
World War I
, Gavrilo Princip
Gavrilo Princip
assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
in Sarajevo
Sarajevo
. Home rule was delayed for the duration of what was expected to be a short war and unionist and nationalist leaders agreed to encourage their volunteers to join the British army
British army
. The 36th (Ulster) Division , which was to suffer so severely at the Somme in 1916, was formed predominantly from the UVF. Nationalists joined in great numbers as well, with "old" Irish regiments from Munster
Munster
and Leinster
Leinster
being greatly strengthened by these recruits.

1916 RISING AND AFTERMATH

During World War I
World War I
, tensions continued to mount in Ireland. Hardline Irish separatists (known at the time as Irish Nationalists and later as Republicans) rejected Home Rule
Home Rule
entirely because it involved maintaining the connection with Britain. They retained control of one faction of the Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
, and in Easter 1916, led by Thomas Clarke , James Connolly
James Connolly
and others attempted a rebellion in Dublin
Dublin
. After summary trials, the British government
British government
had the leaders executed for treason. The government blamed the small Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
party, which had had little to do with it. The execution of the leaders of the rebellion turned out to be a propaganda coup for militant republicanism, and Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
's previously negligible popular support grew. The surviving leaders of the Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
infiltrated the party and assumed its leadership in 1917. (The Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
would later become the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(IRA) in 1919.)

Republicans gained further support when the British government attempted to introduce conscription to Ireland
Ireland
in 1918 . Sinn Féin was at the forefront of organising the campaign against conscription .

When the veterans of World War I, on both sides of the political divide, returned from the front in 1918 and 1919, they came back as battle-hardened soldiers. In the general election of 1918 , the Irish Parliamentary Party lost almost all of its seats to Sinn Féin. Of the 30 seats in the six counties that would become Northern Ireland, 23 were won by Unionists, including 3 Labour Unionists and five of the six IPP members returned in Ireland
Ireland
were elected in Ulster
Ulster
as a result of local voting pacts with Sinn Féin.

Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
slowly gathered pace in Ireland
Ireland
in the aftermath of the election, leading to the Anglo-Irish War . Although lower in intensity in Ulster
Ulster
than the rest of Ireland, the conflict was complicated there by involving not only the IRA, British Army
British Army
and Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
, but the Ulster
Ulster
Volunteer Force (UVF) as well.

PARTITION

Main article: Partition of Ireland
Ireland

The fourth and final Home Rule
Home Rule
Bill (the Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act 1920 ) partitioned the island into Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(six northeastern counties) and Southern Ireland
Ireland
(the rest of the island). Some unionists such as Sir Edward Carson
Edward Carson
opposed partition, seeing it as a betrayal of unionism as a pan-Irish political movement. Three Counties unionists, who found themselves on the wrong side of the new border that partitioned Ulster
Ulster
, felt betrayed by those who had joined them in pledging to "stand by one another" in the Ulster
Ulster
Covenant . The Belfast
Belfast
Telegraph reassured unionists who felt guilty about this "that it was better for two-thirds of passengers to save themselves than for all to drown". Many Irish nationalists also opposed partition, although some were gratified that Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
contained a large nationalist minority that would deny it stability.

The Treaty was given effect in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
through the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922 . Under Article 12 of the Treaty, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
could exercise its opt out by presenting an address to the King requesting not to be part of the Irish Free State. Once the Treaty was ratified, the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
had one month to exercise this opt out during which month the Irish Free State Government could not legislate for Northern Ireland, holding the Free State's effective jurisdiction in abeyance for a month.

On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
resolved to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State:

MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.

On 13 December 1922 Prime Minister James Craig addressed the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
informing them that the King had responded to the Parliament's address as follows:

I have received the Address presented to me by both Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
in pursuance of Article 12 of the Articles of Agreement set forth in the Schedule to the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, and of Section 5 of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, and I have caused my Ministers and the Irish Free State Government to be so informed.

EARLY YEARS OF HOME RULE

Northern Ireland, having received self-government within the United Kingdom under the Government of Ireland
Ireland
Act, was in some respects left to its own devices.

The first years of the new autonomous region were marked by bitter violence, particularly in Belfast
Belfast
. The IRA was determined to oppose the partition of Ireland
Ireland
so the authorities created the (mainly ex-UVF) Ulster
Ulster
Special
Special
Constabulary to aid the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and introduced emergency powers to put down the IRA. Many died in political violence from 1920, which petered out after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
in 1922 and through 1923.

The continuing violence created a climate of fear in the new region, and there was migration across the new border. As well as movement of Protestants from the Free State into Northern Ireland, some Catholics fled south, leaving some of those who remained feeling isolated. Despite the mixed religious affiliation of the old Royal Irish Constabulary and the transfer of many Catholic
Catholic
RIC police officers to the newly formed Royal Ulster
Ulster
Constabulary (1922), northern Catholics did not join the new force in great numbers. Many nationalists came to view the new police force as sectarian, adding to their sense of alienation from the state.

1925–65

Under successive unionist Prime Ministers from Sir James Craig
Sir James Craig
(later Lord Craigavon) onwards, the unionist establishment practised what is generally considered a policy of discrimination against the nationalist/ Catholic
Catholic
minority.

This pattern was firmly established in the case of local government, where gerrymandered ward boundaries rigged local government elections to ensure unionist control of some local councils with nationalist majorities. In a number of cases, most prominently those of the Corporation of Derry
Derry
, Omagh
Omagh
Urban District, and Fermanagh
Fermanagh
County Council , ward boundaries were drawn to place as many Catholics as possible into wards with overwhelming nationalist majorities while other wards were created where unionists had small but secure majorities, maximising unionist representation.

Voting arrangements which gave commercial companies multiple votes according to size, and which restricted the personal franchise to property owners, primary tenants and their spouses (which were ended in England
England
in the 1940s), continued in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
until 1969 and became increasingly resented. Disputes over local government gerrymandering were at the heart of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

In addition, there was widespread discrimination in employment , particularly at senior levels of the public sector and in certain sectors of the economy, such as shipbuilding and heavy engineering. Emigration to seek employment was significantly more prevalent among the Catholic
Catholic
population. As a result, Northern Ireland's demography shifted further in favour of Protestants, leaving their ascendancy seemingly impregnable by the late 1950s.

The abolition of proportional representation in 1929 meant that the structure of party politics gave the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party a continual sizeable majority in the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, leading to fifty years of one-party rule . While nationalist parties continued to retain the same number of seats that they had under proportional representation, the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Labour Party and various smaller leftist unionist groups were smothered, meaning that it proved impossible for any group to sustain a challenge to the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party from within the unionist section of the population.

In 1935, the worst violence since partition convulsed Belfast
Belfast
. After an Orange Order parade decided to return to the city centre through a Catholic
Catholic
area instead of its usual route; the resulting violence left nine people dead. Over 2,000 Catholics were forced to leave their homes across Northern Ireland.

While disputed for decades, many unionist leaders now admit that the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
government in the period 1922–72 was discriminatory, although prominent Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party
figures continue to deny it or its extent. One unionist leader, Nobel Peace Prize joint-winner, former UUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland
Ireland
David Trimble
David Trimble
, described Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
as having been a "cold house for Catholics".

Despite this, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
was relatively peaceful for most of the period from 1924 until the late 1960s, except for some brief flurries of IRA activity, the (Luftwaffe ) Belfast
Belfast
blitz during the Second World War
Second World War
in 1941 and the so-called "Border Campaign " from 1956 to 1962. It found little support among nationalists. However, many Catholics were resentful towards the state, and nationalist politics was fatalist. Meanwhile, the period saw an almost complete synthesis between the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party and the loyalist Orange Order , with Catholics (even unionist Catholics) being excluded from any position of political or civil authority outside of a handful of nationalist-controlled councils.

Throughout this time, although the Catholic
Catholic
birth rate remained higher than for Protestants, the Catholic
Catholic
proportion of the population declined, as poor economic prospects, especially west of the River Bann , saw Catholics emigrate in disproportionate numbers.

Nationalist political institutions declined, with the Nationalist Party boycotting the Stormont Parliament for much of this period and its constituency organisations reducing to little more than shells. Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
was banned although it often operated through the Republican Clubs or similar vehicles. At various times the party stood and won elections on an abstentionist platform.

Labour-based politics were weak in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
in comparison with Britain. A small Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Labour Party existed but suffered many splits to both nationalist and unionist factions.

THE TROUBLES

Main article: The Troubles
The Troubles

BEGINNINGS

The Troubles
The Troubles
was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
, and mainland Europe . The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast
Belfast
"Good Friday" Agreement of 1998. Violence nonetheless continues on a sporadic basis.

In the 1960s, moderate unionist prime minister Terence O\'Neill (later Lord O'Neill of the Maine) tried to introduce reforms, but encountered strong opposition from both fundamentalist Protestant leaders like Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
and within his own party. The increasing pressures from Irish nationalists for reform and opposition by Ulster loyalists to compromise led to the appearance of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association , under figures such as Austin Currie
Austin Currie
and John Hume
John Hume
. It had some moderate Protestant support and membership, and a considerable dose of student radicalism after Northern Ireland was swept up in the worldwide protests of 1968 . Clashes between marchers and the RUC led to increased communal strife, culminating in an attack by a unionist mob (which included police reservists ) on a march, known as the Burntollet bridge incident , outside Derry
Derry
on 4 January 1969. Wholescale violence erupted after an Apprentice Boys march was forced through the Irish nationalist Bogside
Bogside
area of Derry on 12 August 1969 by the RUC, which led to large-scale disorder known as the Battle of the Bogside
Bogside
. Rioting continued until 14 August, and in that time 1,091 canisters, each containing 12.5g of CS gas
CS gas
and 14 canisters containing 50g, were released by the RUC. Even more severe rioting broke out in Belfast
Belfast
and elsewhere in response to events in Derry
Derry
(see Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
riots of August 1969 ). The following thirty years of civil strife came to be known as "the Troubles".

At the request of the unionist-controlled Northern Ireland government, the British army
British army
was deployed by the UK Home Secretary James Callaghan
James Callaghan
two days later on 14 August 1969. Two weeks later, control of security in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
was passed from the Stormont government to Lieutenant-General Ian Freeland (GOC ). At first the soldiers received a warm welcome from Irish nationalists, who hoped they would protect them from loyalist attack (which the IRA had, for ideological reasons , not done effectively). However, tensions rose throughout the following years, with an important milestone in the worsening relationship between the British Army
British Army
and Irish nationalists being the Falls Curfew
Falls Curfew
of 3 July 1970, when 3,000 British troops imposed a three-day curfew on the Lower Falls area of West Belfast.

After the introduction of internment without trial for suspected IRA men on 9 August 1971, even the most moderate Irish nationalists reacted by completely withdrawing their co-operation with the state. The Social Democratic and Labour Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
(SDLP) members of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
withdrew from that body on 15 August and a widespread campaign of civil disobedience began.

1972–74

Tensions were ratcheted to a higher level after the killing of fourteen unarmed civilians in Derry
Derry
by the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment on 30 January 1972, an event dubbed Bloody Sunday .

Throughout this period, the main paramilitary organisations began to form. 1972 was the most violent year of the conflict. In 1970 the Provisional IRA
Provisional IRA
, was created as a breakaway from what then became known as the Official IRA
Official IRA
(the Provisionals came from various political perspectives, though most rejected the increasingly Marxist outlook of the Officials and were united in their rejection of the Official's view that physical force alone would not end partition), and a campaign of sectarian attacks by loyalist paramilitary groups like the Ulster
Ulster
Defence Association (formed to co-ordinate the various Loyalist vigilante groups that sprung up) and others brought Northern Ireland
Ireland
to the brink of civil war. On 30 March 1972, the British government, unwilling to grant the unionist Northern Ireland government more authoritarian special powers, and now convinced of its inability to restore order, pushed through emergency legislation that prorogued the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Parliament and introduced direct rule from London. In 1973 the British government
British government
dissolved the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and its government under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 .

The British government
British government
held talks with various parties, including the Provisional IRA, during 1972 and 1973. The Official IRA
Official IRA
declared a ceasefire in 1972, and eventually ended violence against the British altogether, although a breakaway group, the Irish National Liberation Army , continued. The Provisional IRA
Provisional IRA
remained the largest and most effective nationalist paramilitary group.

On 9 December 1973, after talks in Sunningdale
Sunningdale
, Berkshire, the UUP, SDLP and Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and both governments reached the Sunningdale
Sunningdale
Agreement on a cross-community government for Northern Ireland, which took office on 1 January 1974. The Provisional IRA was unimpressed, increasing the tempo of its campaign, while many unionists were outraged at the participation of Irish nationalists in the government of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and at the cross-border Council of Ireland
Ireland
. Although the pro- Sunningdale
Sunningdale
parties had a clear majority in the new Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Assembly , the failure of the pro-Agreement parties to co-ordinate their efforts in the general election of 28 February, combined with an IRA-sponsored boycott by hardline republicans, allowed anti- Sunningdale
Sunningdale
unionists to take 51.1% of the vote and 11 of Northern Ireland's 12 seats in the UK House of Commons.

Emboldened by this, a coalition of anti-Agreement unionist politicians and paramilitaries organised the Ulster
Ulster
Workers\' Council strike which began on 15 May. The strikers brought Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
to a standstill by shutting down power stations, and after Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
refused to send in troops to take over from the strikers, the power-sharing executive collapsed on 28 May 1974.

Some British politicians, notably former British Labour minister Tony Benn , advocated British withdrawal from Ireland, but many opposed this policy, and called their prediction of the possible results of British withdrawal the 'Doomsday Scenario', anticipating widespread communal strife. The worst fear envisaged a civil war which would engulf not just Northern Ireland, but also the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
and Scotland
Scotland
, both of which had major links with the people of Northern Ireland
Ireland
. Later, the feared possible impact of British withdrawal was the ' Balkanisation
Balkanisation
' of Northern Ireland.

The level of violence declined from 1972 onwards, decreasing to under 150 deaths a year after 1976 and under 100 after 1988. The Provisional IRA, using weapons and explosives obtained from the United States and Libya
Libya
, bombed England
England
and various British army
British army
bases in Europe, as well as conducting ongoing attacks within Northern Ireland. These attacks were not only on "military" targets but also on commercial properties and various city centres. Arguably its signature attack would involve cars packed with high explosives. At the same time, loyalist paramilitaries largely (but not exclusively) focused their campaign within Northern Ireland, ignoring the uninvolved military of the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
, and instead claiming a (very) few republican paramilitary casualties. They usually targeted Catholics (especially those working in Protestant areas), and attacked Catholic-frequented pubs using automatic fire weapons. Such attacks were euphemistically known as "spray jobs". Both groups would also carry out extensive "punishment" attacks against members of their own communities for a variety of perceived, alleged, or suspected crimes.

1975–98

Various fitful political talks took place from then until the early 1990s, backed by schemes such as rolling devolution , and 1975 saw a brief Provisional IRA
Provisional IRA
ceasefire. The two events of real significance during this period, however, were the hunger strikes (1981) and the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985).

Despite the failure of the hunger strike, the modern republican movement made its first foray into electoral politics, with modest electoral success on both sides of the border, including the election of Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
to the House of Commons. This convinced republicans to adopt the Armalite and ballot box strategy and gradually take a more political approach.

While the Anglo-Irish Agreement failed to bring an end to political violence in Northern Ireland, it did improve co-operation between the British and Irish governments, which was key to the creation of the Belfast
Belfast
Agreement a decade later.

At a strategic level the agreement demonstrated that the British recognised as legitimate the wishes of the Republic to have a direct interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland. It also demonstrated to paramilitaries that their refusal to negotiate with the governments might be self-defeating in the long run. Unlike the Sunningdale Agreement, the Anglo-Irish Agreement withstood a much more concerted campaign of violence and intimidation, as well as political hostility, from unionists. Republicans were left in the position of rejecting the only significant all- Ireland
Ireland
structures created since partition.

By the 1990s, the perceived stalemate between the IRA and British security forces, along with the increasing political successes of Sinn Féin, convinced a majority inside the republican movement that greater progress towards republican objectives might be achieved through negotiation rather than violence at this stage. This change from paramilitary to political means was part of a broader Northern Ireland
Ireland
peace process , which followed the appearance of new leaders in London ( John Major
John Major
) and Dublin
Dublin
( Albert Reynolds
Albert Reynolds
).

THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT AND BEYOND

Main articles: Belfast
Belfast
Agreement and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
peace process

Increased government focus on the problems of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
led, in 1993, to the two prime ministers signing the Downing Street Declaration . At the same time Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
, leader of Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
, and John Hume
John Hume
, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
, engaged in talks. The UK political landscape changed dramatically when the 1997 general election saw the return of a Labour government, led by prime minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
, with a large parliamentary majority. A new leader of the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party , David Trimble
David Trimble
, initially perceived as a hardliner, brought his party into the all-party negotiations which in 1998 produced the Belfast
Belfast
Agreement ("Good Friday Agreement"), signed by eight parties on 10 April 1998, although not involving Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
's Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party
or the UK Unionist Party . A majority of both communities in Northern Ireland approved this Agreement, as did the people of the Republic of Ireland , both by referendum on 22 May 1998. The Republic amended its constitution , to replace a claim it made to the territory of Northern Ireland
Ireland
with an affirmation of the right of all the people of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation and a declaration of an aspiration towards a United Ireland
Ireland
(see the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
Ireland
).

Under the Good Friday Agreement, properly known as the Belfast Agreement , voters elected a new Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Assembly to form a parliament. Every party that reaches a specific level of support gains the right to name members of its party to government and claim one or more ministries. Ulster
Ulster
Unionist party leader David Trimble
David Trimble
became First Minister of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
. The Deputy Leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon , became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, though his party's new leader, Mark Durkan , subsequently replaced him. The Ulster
Ulster
Unionists , Social Democratic and Labour Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
, Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party
each had ministers by right in the power-sharing assembly.

The Assembly and its Executive operated on a stop-start basis, with repeated disagreements about whether the IRA was fulfilling its commitments to disarm, and also allegations from the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
's Special Branch
Special Branch
that there was an IRA spy-ring operating in the heart of the civil service. It has since emerged that the spy-ring was run by MI5
MI5
(see Denis Donaldson ). Northern Ireland was then, once more, run by the Direct Rule
Direct Rule
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
, Peter Hain
Peter Hain
, and a British ministerial team answerable to him. Hain was answerable only to the Cabinet.

The changing British position to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
was represented by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Stormont, where she met nationalist ministers from the SDLP as well as unionist ministers and spoke of the right of people who perceive themselves as Irish to be treated as equal citizens along with those who regard themselves as British. Similarly, on visits to Northern Ireland, the President of Ireland
Ireland
, Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese
, met with unionist ministers and with the Lord Lieutenant of each county – the official representatives of the Queen.

However, the Assembly elections of 30 November 2003 saw Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP) emerge as the largest parties in each community, which was perceived as making a restoration of the devolved institutions more difficult to achieve. However, serious talks between the political parties and the British and Irish governments saw steady, if stuttering, progress throughout 2004, with the DUP in particular surprising many observers with its newly discovered pragmatism. However, an arms-for-government deal between Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
and the DUP broke down in December 2004 due to a row over whether photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning was necessary, and the IRA refusal to countenance the provision of such evidence.

The 2005 British general election saw further polarisation, with the DUP making sweeping gains, although Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
did not make the breakthrough many had predicted. In particular, the failure of Sinn Féin to gain the SDLP leader Mark Durkan 's Foyle seat marked a significant rebuff for the republican party. The UUP only took one seat, with the leader David Trimble
David Trimble
losing his and subsequently resigning as leader.

On 28 July 2005, the IRA made a public statement ordering an end to the armed campaign and instructing its members to dump arms and to pursue purely political programmes. While the British and Irish governments warmly welcomed the statement, political reaction in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
itself demonstrated a tendency to suspicion engendered by years of political and social conflict. In August the British government
British government
announced that due to the security situation improving and in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement provisions, Operation Banner
Operation Banner
would end by 1 August 2007.

On 13 October 2006 an agreement was proposed after three days of multiparty talks at St. Andrews
St. Andrews
in Scotland, which all parties including the DUP, supported. Under the agreement, Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
would fully endorse the police in Northern Ireland, and the DUP would share power with Sinn Féin. All the main parties in Northern ireland, including the DUP and Sinn Féin, subsequently formally endorsed the agreement.

On 8 May 2007, devolution of powers returned to Northern Ireland. DUP leader Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
took office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively. (BBC). "You Raise Me Up ", the 2005 track by Westlife
Westlife
, was played at their inauguration.

SEE ALSO

* Flag of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
* History of Ireland
History of Ireland
* History of the United Kingdom
History of the United Kingdom
* Northern Irish murals
Northern Irish murals
* History of the British Isles
History of the British Isles

REFERENCES

* ^ "The Countries of the UK". 11 November 1997. Archived from the original on 11 November 2009. Retrieved 11 November 1997. The top-level division of administrative geography in the UK is the 4 countries – England, Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland. Check date values in: access-date= (help ) * ^ "Countries within a country". 10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street
. 10 January 2003. Archived from the original on 9 September 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2012. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales
Wales
and Northern Ireland. * ^ "\'Normalisation\' plans for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
unveiled". 10 Downing Street . 1 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2 August 2005. Retrieved 10 October 2012. Plans to reduce troops and abolish watchtowers in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
to 'normalise' the province, have been outlined by the Government. * ^ "The European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
2007–2013" (PDF ). Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Executive . 4 October 2007. p. 16. Retrieved 28 March 2010. NI (NI) is a region of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(UK) that operates in an island economy sharing a land border with Ireland. * ^ Statutory Rules Additional source for 3 May 1921 date: Alvin Jackson (2004). Home Rule
Home Rule
– An Irish History. Oxford University Press. p. 198. * ^ "The Irish Election of 1918". ark.ac.uk. Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive . * ^ Nicholas Whyte (25 March 2006). "The Irish Election of 1918". ARK. Retrieved 25 October 2012. * ^ http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/the-emergence-of-the-two-irelands-1912-25/ * ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/sectarian/brewer.htm * ^ " Northern Ireland
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the same as that in Britain. Check date values in: date= (help ) * ^ Walker, Graham. A History of the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism ( Manchester
Manchester
Studies in Modern History). p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7190-6109-7 . * ^ Curley, Helen. Local Ireland
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Almanac and Yearbook of Facts 2000 (Local Ireland
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almanac & yearbook of facts). p. 17. ISBN 978-0-9536537-0-6 . * ^ http://www.mydup.com/news/article/campbell-to-raise-complaints-with-bbc-on-fair-employment-documentary * ^ Trimble, David (10 December 1998). "The Nobel Lecture given by The Nobel Peace Prize
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and the Politics of Reconciliation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 55–59. ISBN 978-0-521-45933-4 . * ^ Weitzer, Ronald (January 1995). Policing Under Fire: Ethnic Conflict and Police-Community Relations in Northern Ireland. State University Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-2248-9 . * ^ Coakley, John. "ETHNIC CONFLICT AND THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION: THE IRISH EXPERIENCE OF PARTITION". Retrieved 15 February 2009. * ^ Aughey, Arthur. The Politics of Northern Ireland: Beyond the Belfast
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FURTHER READING

* Adamson, Ian. The Identity of Ulster, 2nd edition (Belfast, 1987) * Bardon, Jonathan. A History of Ulster (Belfast, 1992.) * Bew, Paul, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland 1921-1994: Political Forces and Social Classes (1995) * Bew, Paul, and Henry Patterson. The British State and the Ulster Crisis: From Wilson to Thatcher (London: Verso, 1985). * Brady, Claran, Mary O'Dowd and Brian Walker, eds. Ulster: An Illustrated History (1989) * Buckland, Patrick. A History of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(Dublin, 1981) * Elliott, Marianne . The Catholics of Ulster: A History. Basic Books. 2001. online edition * Farrell, Michael. Northern Ireland: The Orange State, 2nd edition (London, 1980) * Henessy, Thomas. A History of Northern Ireland, 1920-1996. St. Martin's, 1998. 365 pp. * Kannedy, Líam; Ollerenshaw, Philip, eds. (1985). An Economic History of Ulster 1820 – 1940. Manchester
Manchester
: Manchester
Manchester
University Press . ISBN 0-7190-1827-7 . * McAuley, James White. Very British Rebels?: The Culture and Politics of Ulster
Ulster
Loyalism (Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2015). * Miller, David, ed. Rethinking Northern Ireland: culture, ideology and colonialism (Routledge, 2014)

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