NORTHERN IRELAND (Irish : _Tuaisceart Éireann_ (_ listen );
Ulster-Scots : Norlin Airlann_) is a country of the
located in the north-east of the island of
Ireland . It has been
variously described as a country, province, region, or "part" of the
United Kingdom, amongst other terms. Northern
Ireland shares a
border to the south and west with the Republic of
Ireland . In 2011 ,
its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's
total population and about 3% of the UK\'s population . Established by
Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the
Good Friday Agreement ,
Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of
devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the
British government . Northern
Ireland co-operates with the Republic of
Ireland in some areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the
ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts
to resolve disagreements between the two governments".
Ireland was created in 1921, when
Ireland was partitioned
Ireland and Southern
Ireland by an act of the British
parliament . Unlike Southern Ireland, which would become the Irish
Free State in 1922, the majority of Northern Ireland's population were
unionists , who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom,. Most of
these were the
Protestant descendants of colonists from Great Britain
. However, a significant minority, mostly Catholics , were
nationalists who wanted a united
Ireland independent of British rule.
Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the
latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a distinct Northern
Ulster identity is claimed both by a large minority of
Catholics and Protestants and by many of those who are non-aligned.
For most of the 20th century, when it came into existence, Northern
Ireland was marked by discrimination and hostility between these two
sides in what
First Minister of Northern Ireland
David Trimble called
a "cold house" for Catholics. In the late 1960s, conflict between
state forces and chiefly
Protestant unionists on the one hand, and
chiefly Catholic nationalists on the other, erupted into three decades
of violence known as the Troubles , which claimed over 3,500 lives and
caused over 50,000 casualties. The 1998
Good Friday Agreement was a
major step in the peace process , including the decommissioning of
weapons , although sectarianism and religious segregation still remain
major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.
Ireland has historically been the most industrialised region
of Ireland. After declining 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
the links which 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% for June–August 2014 and
down by 1.2 percentage points over the year, similar to the UK figure
of 6.2%. 58.2% of those unemployed had been unemployed for over a
Prominent artists and sportspeople from Northern
Ireland include Van
Rory McIlroy ,
Joey Dunlop ,
Wayne McCullough and George
Best . Some people from Northern
Ireland prefer to identify as Irish
Seamus Heaney and actor
Liam Neeson ) while others prefer
to identify as British (e.g. actor
Kenneth Branagh ). 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
and the culture of the
United Kingdom . In many sports, the island of
Ireland fields a single team, a notable exception being association
Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth
Games , and people from Northern
Ireland may compete for either Great
Ireland at the
Olympic Games .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Partition of
* 1.2 Northern
* 1.2.2 Peace process
* 2 Politics
* 2.1 Background
* 2.2 Governance
* 2.3 Descriptions
* 2.4 Alternative names
* 2.4.1 Unionist
* 2.4.2 Nationalist
* 2.4.3 Other
* 3 Geography and climate
* 3.1 Counties
* 4 Economy
* 5 Transportation
* 6 Demographics
* 6.1 Religion
* 6.2 Citizenship and identity
* 6.3 Languages
* 6.3.1 English
* 6.3.2 Irish
* 6.3.4 Sign languages
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Symbols
* 8 Sport
* 8.1 Field sports
* 8.1.1 Association football
* 8.1.3 Cricket
* 8.1.4 Gaelic games
* 8.4 Motor sports
* 8.5 Rugby league
* 8.6 Professional wrestling
* 9 Education
* 10 Media and communications
* 11 See also
* 12 References
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
See also: History of
Ulster § History Cannon on
Derry 's city walls
The region that is now Northern
Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish
war of resistance against English programmes of colonialism in the
late 16th century. The English-controlled Kingdom of
Ireland had been
declared by the English king Henry VIII in 1542, but Irish resistance
made English control fragmentary. Following Irish defeat at the Battle
of Kinsale , though, the region's Gaelic ,
Roman Catholic aristocracy
fled to continental
Europe in 1607 and the region became subject to
major programmes of colonialism by
Protestant English (mainly Anglican
) and Scottish (mainly Presbyterian ) settlers. A rebellion in 1641 by
Irish aristocrats against English rule resulted in a massacre of
Ulster in the context of a war breaking out between
Ireland fuelled by religious intolerance in
government. Victories by English forces in that war and further
Protestant victories in the Williamite War in
Ireland toward the close
of the 17th century solidified
Anglican rule in Ireland. In Northern
Ireland, the victories of the Siege of
Derry (1689) and the Battle of
the Boyne (1690) in this latter war are still celebrated by some
Anglican and Presbyterian).
Scrabo Tower ,
Following the victory of 1691, and contrary to the terms of the
Treaty of Limerick , after the Pope who had been allied to William of
Orange recognised James II as continuing king of
Great Britain and
Ireland in place of William, a series of penal laws was passed by the
Anglican ruling class in Ireland. Their intention was to materially
disadvantage the Catholic community and, to a lesser extent, the
Presbyterian community. In the context of open institutional
discrimination, the 18th century saw secret, militant societies
develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian tensions in
violent attacks. These events escalated at the end of the century
following an event known as the
Battle of the Diamond , which saw the
supremacy of the
Anglican and Presbyterian Peep o\'Day Boys over the
Catholic Defenders and leading to the formation of the
Order . A rebellion in 1798 led by the cross-community Belfast-based
Society of the United Irishmen and inspired by the French Revolution
sought to break the constitutional ties between
Ireland and Britain
Irish people of all religions. Following this, in an attempt
to quell sectarianism and force the removal of discriminatory laws
(and to prevent the spread of French-style republicanism to Ireland),
the government of the
Kingdom of Great Britain pushed for the two
kingdoms to be merged. The new state, formed in 1801, the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland , was governed from a single
government and parliament based in London.
Between 1717 and 1775 some 250,000 people from
Ulster emigrated to
the British North American colonies. It is estimated that there are
more than 27 million Scotch-Irish Americans now living in the US.
PARTITION OF IRELAND
Main article: Partition of
Ireland Signing of the Ulster
Covenant in 1912 in opposition to Home Rule
During the 19th century, legal reforms started in the late 18th
century continued to remove statutory discrimination against
Catholics, and progressive programmes enabled tenant farmers to buy
land from landlords. By the close of the century, autonomy for Ireland
within the United Kingdom, known as _Home Rule _, was regarded as
highly likely. In 1912, after decades of obstruction from the House of
Lords , Home Rule became a near-certainty. A clash between the House
of Commons and
House of Lords
House of Lords over a controversial budget produced the
Parliament Act 1911
Parliament Act 1911 , which enabled the veto of the Lords to be
House of Lords
House of Lords veto had been the unionists' main
guarantee that Home Rule would not be enacted, because the majority of
members of the
House of Lords
House of Lords were unionists. In response, opponents
to Home Rule, from Conservative and Unionist Party leaders such as
Bonar Law and Dublin-based barrister Sir
Edward Carson to militant
working class unionists in Ireland, threatened the use of violence. In
1914, they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition from
Imperial Germany for use by the
Ulster Volunteers (UVF), a
paramilitary organisation opposed to the implementation of Home Rule.
Unionists were in a minority in
Ireland as a whole, but in the
northern province of
Ulster they were a very large majority in County
County Down , small majorities in
County Armagh and County
Londonderry and a substantial minority in the rest of the province.
These four counties, as well as
County Fermanagh and
County Tyrone ,
would later constitute Northern Ireland. Most of the remaining 26
counties which later became the Republic of
Home Rule Crisis the possibility was discussed of a
"temporary" partition of these six counties from the rest of Ireland.
In 1914, the _
Third Home Rule Bill _ received
Royal Assent as the
Ireland Act 1914 . However, its implementation was
suspended before it came into effect because of the outbreak of the
First World War , and the Amending Bill to partition
abandoned. The war was expected to last only a few weeks but in fact
lasted four years. By the end of the war (during which the 1916 Easter
Rising had taken place), the Act was seen as unimplementable. Public
opinion among nationalists had shifted during the war from a demand
for home rule to one for full independence. In 1919, David Lloyd
George proposed a new bill be established by the cabinet's _Walter
Long Committee_ on Ireland, which by adopting findings of his (Lloyd
George's) inconclusive 1917-18 Irish Convention would divide Ireland
into two Home Rule areas: twenty-six counties being ruled from Dublin
and six being ruled from
Belfast . Straddling these two areas would be
a shared Lord Lieutenant of
Ireland who would appoint both governments
and a Council of
Ireland , which Lloyd George believed would evolve
into an all-
Events overtook the government. In the general election of 1918 , the
Sinn Féin won 73 of the 105 parliamentary seats in
Ireland and unilaterally established the
First Dáil , an
extrajudicial parliament in Ireland.
Ireland was partitioned between
Ireland and Southern
Ireland in 1921 under the terms of Lloyd
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920 during the
Irish republican and British forces. The war ended on 6
December 1921, with the signing of the
Anglo-Irish Treaty , which
Irish Free State . 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.
History of Northern Ireland The Coat of Arms of
Ireland used between 1924 and 1973 Opening of Stormont
As expected, the Houses of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
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 the King . The text of the address was:
Most Gracious Sovereign, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal
subjects, the Senators and Commons of 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.
Shortly afterwards, the Boundary Commission was established to decide
on the territorial boundaries between the
Irish Free State and
Northern Ireland. Owing to the outbreak of civil war in the Free State
, the work of the commission was delayed until 1925. Leaders in Dublin
expected a substantial reduction in the territory of Northern Ireland,
with nationalist areas moving to the Free State. However the
commission's report recommended only that some small portions of land
should be ceded from Northern
Ireland to the Free State and even that
a small amount of land should be ceded from the Free State to Northern
Ireland. To prevent argument, this report was suppressed and, in
exchange for a waiver to the Free State's obligations to the UK's
public debt and the dissolution of the Council of
Ireland (sought by
the Government of Northern
Ireland ), the initial six-county border
was maintained with no changes.
In June 1940, to encourage the neutral Irish state to join with the
Allies , British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill indicated to the
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
Ireland that they had made the offer to the Dublin
government, and De Valera's rejection was not publicised until 1970.
Ireland Act 1949 gave the first legal guarantee that the region
would not cease to be part of the
United Kingdom without the consent
Parliament of Northern Ireland .
The Troubles, which started in the late 1960s, consisted of about
thirty 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 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, but Catholics were over-represented since
they were poorer and had more adults still living in the family home.
Responsibility for Troubles-related deaths between 1969 and 2001
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 IRA campaign of
1969–1997 which was aimed at the end of British rule in Northern
Ireland and the creation of a United
Ireland , 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
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 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, although the
extent to which such collusion occurred is still hotly 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,
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).
Main article: Northern
Ireland 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
Fermanagh , as agreed by the signatories to the
(commonly known as the "
Good Friday Agreement "). 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
Ireland decides otherwise. The Constitution of
amended in 1999 to remove a claim of the "Irish nation" to sovereignty
over the entire island (in Article 2), a claim qualified by an
Ireland could only exercise legal control over
the territory formerly known as the Irish Free State. First
Ian Paisley (DUP), his deputy
Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin)
and Scottish First Minister
Alex Salmond in 2008.
The new 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
a whole have the right, without any outside interference, to solve the
issues between North and South by mutual consent. 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
allegations of spying by people working for
Sinn Féin at the Assembly
Stormontgate ). The resulting case against the accused Sinn Féin
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 in accordance with
Belfast Agreement of 1998, and under the watch of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning and two external church
witnesses. Many unionists, however, remain sceptical. The
International Commission later confirmed that the main loyalist
paramilitary groups, the UDA, UVF and the Red Hand Commando, had
decommissioned what is thought to be all of their arsenals, witnessed
by a former archbishop and a former top civil servant.
Politicians elected to the Assembly at the 2003 Assembly election
were called together on 15 May 2006 under the Northern
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
Following the election held on 7 March 2007, devolved government
returned on 8 May 2007 with
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian
Sinn Féin deputy leader
Martin McGuinness taking office
as First Minister and deputy First Minister, respectively. In its
white paper on
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 of Northern Ireland
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
with the Republic of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom.
These two opposing views are linked to deeper cultural divisions.
Unionists are predominantly
Protestant , descendants of mainly
Scottish , English, and
Huguenot settlers as well as
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 Stormont government (1921–1972) gave rise to the 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
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 directly ruled or with 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
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
Ireland are at least nominally Christian, mostly Roman
Protestant denominations. Many voters (regardless of
religious affiliation) are attracted to unionism's conservative
policies, while other voters are instead attracted to the
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. In
the 2015 survey by Northern
Ireland Life and Times, 47% of Northern
Irish Catholics supported Northern
Ireland remaining a part of the
United Kingdom, either by direct rule (6%) or devolved government
Protestants have a slight majority in Northern Ireland, according to
the latest Northern
Ireland Census. The make-up of the Northern
Ireland Assembly reflects the appeals of the various parties within
the population. Of the 108 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)
, 56 are unionists and 40 are nationalists (the remaining 12 are
classified as "other").
Main articles: Elections in Northern
Ireland and Northern
Parliament Buildings at Stormont , Belfast, seat of the
Since 1998, Northern
Ireland has had devolved government within the
United Kingdom. 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 Northern Ireland
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,
Ireland Executive together with the 108-member Northern
Ireland 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 co-ordinates 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
Elections to the
Northern Ireland Assembly are by single transferable
vote with six representatives (Member of the Legislative Assembly,
MLAs) elected from 18 parliamentary constituencies . Eighteen
representatives to the lower house of the UK parliament (Members of
Parliament, MPs) are elected from the same constituencies using the
first-past-the-post system. However, not all of these take their
Sinn Féin MPs, currently five, 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 members from Northern Ireland
Ireland itself forms a single constituency for elections to
European Parliament .
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 .
Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction , separate from the
two other jurisdictions in the
United Kingdom (
Wales , and
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
Wales. However, there are important differences in law and procedure
England and Wales. The body of statute
law affecting Northern
Ireland reflects the history of Northern
Ireland, including Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the
Ireland Assembly, the former Parliament of Northern Ireland
and the Parliament of
Ireland , along with some Acts of the Parliament
England and of the
Parliament of Great Britain that were extended
Ireland under Poynings\' Law between 1494 and 1782.
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
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
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
HM Treasury and the Department of Finance and Personnel of the
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 (
Scotland), one principality (Wales) and one province (Northern
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
Ireland a country. Authors writing specifically about
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
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
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
Ireland can also be simply described as
"part of the UK", including by UK government offices.
Main article: Alternative names for Northern
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 city should be
called "Derry" or "Londonderry" .
Choice of language and nomenclature in Northern
Ireland often reveals
the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of the speaker. The first
First Minister of Northern Ireland ,
Seamus Mallon , was
criticised by unionist politicians for calling the region the "North
of Ireland" while
Sinn Féin has been criticised in a
for referring to the "Six Counties".
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". Some media outlets in
the Republic use "North of Ireland", "the North", or (less often) the
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
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. For Northern Ireland's second largest city, broadcasting
outlets which are unaligned to either community and broadcast to both
use both names interchangeably, often starting a report with
"Londonderry" and then using "Derry" in the rest of the report.
However, within Northern Ireland, print media which are aligned to
either ideology (the _
Belfast Telegraph _ and _
News Letter _ are
unionist in outlook while the _
Irish News _ is nationalist) generally
use their preferred term. British newspapers with unionist leanings,
such as _
The Daily Telegraph _, usually use unionist language. However
the more left-wing _Guardian _ recommends in its style guide using
"Derry" and "County Derry", and "not Londonderry".
The division in nomenclature is sometimes seen in the names of
organisations associated with either side of the political divide, but
there are exceptions. In Gaelic games , followed mainly by
GAA county is "
Derry ", but in sports followed
mainly by unionists, clubs tend to avoid the use of "Londonderry" in
favour of more precise locales (
Glendermott Cricket Club ) or neutral
terms (Foyle Hockey Club ). "Derry" is also used in the names of both
the Church of
Roman Catholic dioceses, and by one of the
Protestant fraternal societies , the Apprentice Boys of Derry
. There is no agreement on how to decide on a name. When the
nationalist-controlled local council voted to rename the city "Derry",
unionists objected, stating that as it owed its city status to a Royal
Charter , only a charter issued by the Queen could change the name.
The Queen has not intervened on the matter and thus the council is now
Derry City Council while the city is still officially
Londonderry. Nevertheless, the council has printed two sets of
stationery—one for each term—and its policy is to reply to
correspondence using whichever term the original sender used.
* ULSTER, strictly speaking, refers to the province of
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
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
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.
* NORTH OF IRELAND – used to avoid using the name given by the
British-enacted Government of
Ireland Act 1920.
* THE SIX COUNTIES (na Sé Chontae) – the Republic of
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
* 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 , 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
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
* NORN IRON or "Norniron" – is an informal and affectionate local
nickname used by both nationalists and unionists to refer to Northern
Ireland, derived from the pronunciation of the words "Northern
Ireland" in an exaggerated
Ulster accent (particularly one from the
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 .
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Main articles: Geography of
Ireland and Geography of the United
Kingdom Köppen climate types of Northern
Ireland was covered by an ice sheet for most of the 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
151 square miles (391 km2) the largest freshwater lake both on the
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 , off the north Antrim
Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles,
covering 150 km2 (58 sq mi). Hare's Gap,
There are substantial uplands in the
Sperrin Mountains (an extension
of the Caledonian mountain belt ) with extensive gold deposits,
Mourne Mountains and basalt
Antrim Plateau , as well as
smaller ranges in South
Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone
border. None of the hills are especially high, with
Slieve Donard in
the dramatic Mournes reaching 850 metres (2,789 ft), Northern
Ireland's highest point. Belfast's most prominent peak is
The Giant\'s Causeway ,
The volcanic activity which created the
Antrim Plateau also formed
the eerily 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 .
Marble Arch Caves
Marble Arch Caves
The Lower and Upper
River Bann ,
River Foyle and 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 whole of Northern
Ireland has a temperate maritime climate ,
rather wetter in the west than the east, although cloud cover is
persistent 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 6.5
°C (43.7 °F) in January and 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) in July. The highest
maximum temperature recorded was 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) at Knockarevan,
County Fermanagh on 30 June 1976 and at
Belfast on 12
July 1983. The lowest minimum temperature recorded was −18.7 °C
(−1.7 °F) at
County Tyrone on 23 December 2010.
Main article: Counties of Northern
Ireland consists of six historic counties :
County Antrim ,
County Armagh ,
County Down ,
County Fermanagh ,
County Londonderry ,
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. Mussenden
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
Gaelic Athletic Association still uses the counties as
its primary means of organisation and fields representative teams of
GAA county . The original system of car registration numbers
largely based on counties still remains in use. In 2000, the 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 Phillips 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
Lisburn , which are split between counties Down and Antrim (the
majorities of both cities, however, are in Antrim).
Main articles: Economy of Northern
Ireland and Transport in Northern
Ireland Goliath crane of Harland ">
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
Armagh and the many castles in Northern Ireland.
More recently, the economy has benefited from major investment by many
large multi-national corporations into high tech industry. These large
firms are attracted by government subsidies and the skilled workforce
in Northern Ireland.
The local economy has seen contraction during the
Great Recession .
In response, the
Northern Ireland Assembly has sent trade missions
abroad. The Executive wishes to gain taxation powers from London, to
align Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate with the unusually low
rate of the Republic of Ireland.
Main article: Transport in Northern
Ireland An NIR C3K railcar
Ireland has underdeveloped transport infrastructure , with
most infrastructure concentrated around Greater Belfast, Greater Derry
and Craigavon. Northern
Ireland is served by three airports –
Belfast International near Antrim ,
integrated into the railway network at Sydenham in East Belfast, and
Derry in County Londonderry.
Major sea ports at
Belfast carry passengers and freight
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 service between
Dublin Connolly and
Belfast Central . The whole of
Ireland has a mainline railway network
with a gauge of 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) , which is unique in
has resulted in distinct rolling stock designs. Main railway lines
linking to and from
Belfast Great Victoria Street railway station and
Belfast Central are:
Derry Line and the Portrush Branch.
* The Bangor Line
Main motorways are:
* M1 connecting
Belfast to the south and west, ending in
* M12 connecting the M1 to
* M2 connecting
Belfast to the north. An unconnected section of the
M2 also by-passes
* M22 connecting the M2 to near
* M3 connecting the M1 and M2 in
Belfast with the A2 dual
carriageway to Bangor
* M5 connecting
The cross-border road connecting the ports of
Larne in Northern
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
Main articles: Demography of Northern
Ireland , People of Northern
Ireland , and Religion in Northern
RELIGION IN NORTHERN IRELAND – 2011
Protestant Other Christians
No religion /Not stated
2011 census: differences in proportions of those who are, or
were brought up, either Catholic or Protestant/Other Christians
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 of Northern
Ireland is almost entirely white (98.2%).
In 2011, 88.8% of the population were born in Northern Ireland, with
4.5% born in Britain, and 2.9% born in the Republic of Ireland. 4.3%
were born elsewhere; triple the amount there were in 2001. Most are
Latvia . The largest non-white
ethnic groups were Chinese (6,300) and 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%.
In the 2011 census, 41.5% of the population identified as belonging
Protestant or other non-
Roman Catholic Christian denominations. The
biggest of these denominations were the Presbyterian Church (19%), the
Ireland (14%) and the Methodist Church (3%). The largest
single denomination is the Roman
Catholic Church , to which 41% of the
population belonged. 0.8% identified with non-Christian religions or
philosophies, while 17% identified with no religion or did not state
one. 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.
CITIES AND TOWNS BY POPULATION
CITIZENSHIP AND IDENTITY
British nationality law and Irish nationality
law Map of predominant national identity in the 2011 census
In the 2011 census in Northern
Ireland respondents gave their
national identity as follows.
English, Scottish, or Welsh
Several studies and surveys carried out between 1971 and 2006 have
indicated that, in general, most Protestants in Northern
themselves primarily as British, whereas a majority of Roman Catholics
regard themselves primarily as Irish. This does not however
account for the 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
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
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 citizens of the
United Kingdom . They are also, with
similar exceptions, entitled to be citizens of
Ireland . This
entitlement was reaffirmed in the 1998
Good Friday Agreement between
the British and Irish governments, which provides that:
...it is the birthright of all the people of Northern
identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as
they may so choose, and accordingly 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. Map of most commonly held passport
As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of the Republic of
Ireland was amended. The current wording provides that people born in
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 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 £229.
In the 2011 census in Northern
Ireland respondents stated that they
held the following passports.
residents RELIGION OR RELIGION BROUGHT UP IN
Languages of Northern Ireland Approximate
boundaries of the current and historical English/Scots dialects in
Ulster . South to north, the colour bands represent
Ulster English , Mid-
Ulster English and the three traditional
Ulster Scots areas. The Irish-speaking
Gaeltacht is not shown.
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.
Good Friday Agreement , Irish and
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
Foras na Gaeilge _, which promotes the Irish language, and
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 .
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
Main article: Mid-
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, the
best known of which is 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
Percentage of people aged 3+ claiming to have some ability in
Irish in the 2011 census Main articles:
Irish language in Northern
Irish language (Irish : _an Ghaeilge_), or _Gaelic_, is a native
language of Ireland. It was spoken predominantly throughout what is
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
playing a leading role in the
Gaelic revival .
In the 2011 census, 11% of the population of Northern
"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.
The dialect spoken in Northern Ireland,
Ulster Irish, has two main
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 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 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.
Percentage of people aged 3+ claiming to have some ability in
Ulster Scots in the 2011 census Main article:
Ulster Scots dialects
Ulster Scots comprises varieties of the
Scots language spoken in
Northern Ireland. For a native English speaker, " is comparatively
accessible, and even at its most intense can be understood fairly
easily with the help of a glossary."
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
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.
Main articles: Northern
Ireland Sign Language ,
Irish Sign Language ,
British Sign Language
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) and American Sign Language.
As of March 2004 the
British Government recognises only British Sign
Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used
in Northern Ireland.
Main article: Culture of Northern
Ireland An Orange march
Ireland shares both the culture of
Ireland and the culture
United Kingdom . Those of Catholic background tend to identity
more with Irish culture, and those of
Protestant background more with
British culture. This has caused the two communities to become
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 , and
Ulster loyalist marching
bands. Each summer, during the "marching season", these groups have
hundreds of parades, deck streets with British flags , bunting and
specially-made arches, and light large towering bonfires . 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.
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
See also: Northern
Ireland flags issue The logo for the
Ireland assembly is based on the flower of the flax plant.
Ulster Banner on the foreground, with a republican
Irish flag in the background on the left, in
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 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
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
Ulster Banner are used exclusively by unionists. UK flags
policy states that in Northern Ireland, "The
Ulster flag and the Cross
of St Patrick have no official status and, under the Flags
Regulations, are not permitted to be flown from Government Buildings."
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
United Kingdom . It is still used by some
British army regiments.
Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinian flags in some
nationalist areas and Israeli flags in some unionist areas.
United Kingdom national anthem of "
God Save the Queen " is often
played at state events in Northern Ireland. At the Commonwealth Games
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 national football team 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 Irish national anthem, "Amhrán
na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song)", which is also used by most other
Ireland sporting organisations. Since 1995, the
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
Ireland since the 1970s.
Main article: Sport in Northern
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. The most notable exception is
association football, which has separate governing bodies for each
George Best , Northern Irish international footballer and 1968
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
Ireland compete with clubs in
NIFL clubs are semi-professional or Intermediate.NIFL Premiership
clubs are also eligible to compete in the
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League and
UEFA Europa League with the league champions entering the 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
Despite Northern Ireland's small population, the national team
qualified for the World Cup in 1958 , 1982 and 1986 , making it to the
quarter-finals in 1958 and 1982 and made it the first knockout round
European Championships in 2016.
The six counties of Northern
Ireland are among the nine governed by
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
Celtic League and
European Cup . It won the European Cup in 1999.
In international competitions, the
Ireland national rugby union team
's recent successes include four Triple Crowns between 2004 and 2009
and a Grand Slam in 2009 in the
Six Nations Championship .
Ireland plays as the
Ireland cricket team which represents
Ireland and Republic of
Ireland . The
team is a full member of the
International Cricket Council , having
been granted Test status and full membership (along with Afghanistan )
by the ICC in June, 2017. They are currently able to compete in Test
cricket, the highest level of competitive cricket in the international
arena and they are one of the twelve full-member countries under the
Ireland is the current champion of the
ICC Intercontinental Cup . One
of Ireland's regular international venues is Stormont in Belfast.
Gaelic games include
Gaelic football , hurling (and camogie ),
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
Hurling Championship , All-
Football Championship and All-
Hurling Championship .
Recent successes for Northern
Ireland teams include
Armagh 's 2002
Ireland Senior Football Championship win and Tyrone 's wins in
2003, 2005 and 2008.
Prominent Northern Irish golfer
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 US Open in 2010 to The
Open Championship in 2011. Notable golfers include Fred Daly (winner
of The Open in 1947), Ryder Cup players
Ronan Rafferty and David
Feherty , leading European Tour professionals David Jones , Michael
Hoey (a winner on Tour in 2011) and
Gareth Maybin , as well as three
recent major winners
Graeme McDowell (winner of the US Open in 2010,
the first European to do so since 1970),
Rory McIlroy (winner of four
majors ) and
Darren Clarke (winner of The Open in 2011). Northern
Ireland has also contributed several players to the
Great Britain and
Walker Cup team, including
Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler who
played on the victorious 2011 team in Scotland.
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
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
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 from Antrim . The sport is
governed locally by the Northern
Ireland Billiards and Snooker
Association who run regular ranking tournaments and competitions.
Ireland lacks an international automobile
racecourse, two Northern Irish drivers have finished inside the top
Formula One , with John Watson achieving the feat in 1982 and
Eddie Irvine doing the same in 1999 . The largest course and the only
MSA -licensed track for UK-wide competition is Kirkistown .
Ireland national rugby league team has participated in the
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).
Ireland A rugby league team compete annually in the Amateur Four
Nations competition (since 2002) and the St Patrick's Day Challenge
In 2007, after the closure of UCW (
Ulster Championship Wrestling)
which was a wrestling promotion, PWU formed, standing for Pro
Ulster . The wrestling promotion features championships,
former WWE superstars and local independent wrestlers. Events and
IPPV's throughout Northern Ireland.
Main article: Education in Northern
Ireland Queen\'s University
Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of primary
school many children sit entrance examinations for grammar schools .
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, forty schools (8.9% of the total
number) are integrated schools and thirty-two (7.2% of the total
number) are Irish language-medium schools .
The main universities in Northern
Ireland are Queen\'s University
Ulster University , and the distance learning Open
University which has a regional office in Belfast.
MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
Belfast , home of
BBC has a division called
Ireland with headquarters
in Belfast. As well as broadcasting standard UK-wide programmes, BBC
NI produces local content, including a news break-out called BBC
Newsline . The ITV franchise in Northern
(UTV). The state-owned
Channel 4 and the privately owned Channel 5
also broadcast in Northern Ireland. Access is available to satellite
and cable services. All Northern
Ireland viewers must obtain a UK TV
licence to watch live television transmissions.
RTÉ , the national broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland, is
available over the air to most parts of Northern
Ireland via reception
overspill and via satellite and cable. Since the digital TV
RTÉ One ,
RTÉ2 and the Irish-language channel
TG4 , are
now available over the air on the UK's Freeview system from
transmitters within Northern Ireland. Although they are transmitted
in standard definition, a Freeview HD box or television is required
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 ,
CityBeat , and
Q102.9 . The
BBC has two regional radio stations which
broadcast in Northern Ireland,
BBC Radio Foyle .
Belfast Telegraph _ is the leading newspaper, and UK and Irish
national newspapers are also available. There is a range of local
newspapers such as the _
News Letter _ and the _
Irish News _.
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
Ireland are charged at the same rate as those to numbers
in Great Britain, while landline numbers in Northern
similarly be called from the Republic of
Ireland at domestic rates,
using the 048 prefix.
United Kingdom portal
* Outline of Northern
* Outline of the
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Ireland and the Living
Language of Conflict_, Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, One specific
problem – in both general and particular senses – is to know what
to call Northern
Ireland itself: in the general sense, it is not a
country, or a province, or a state – although some refer to it
contemptuously as a statelet: the least controversial word appears to
be jurisdiction, but this might change.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ J. Whyte; G. FitzGerald (1991),
_Interpreting Northern Ireland_, Oxford: Oxford University Press, One
problem must be adverted to in writing about Northern Ireland. This is
the question of what name to give to the various geographical
entities. These names can be controversial, with the choice often
revealing one's political preferences. ... some refer to Northern
Ireland as a 'province'. That usage can arouse irritation particularly
among nationalists, who claim the title 'province' should be properly
reserved to the four historic provinces of Ireland-Ulster, Leinster,
Munster, and Connacht. If I want to a label to apply to Northern
Ireland I shall call it a 'region'. Unionists should find that title
as acceptable as 'province': Northern
Ireland appears as a region in
the regional statistics of the
United Kingdom published by the British
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ D. Murphy (1979), _A Place Apart_,
London: Penguin Books, Next – what noun is appropriate to Northern
Ireland? 'Province' won't do since one-third of the province is on the
wrong side of the border. 'State' implies more self-determination than
Ireland has ever had and 'country' or 'nation' are blatantly
absurd. 'Colony' has overtones that would be resented by both
communities and 'statelet' sounds too patronizing, though outsiders
might consider it more precise than anything else; so one is left with
the unsatisfactory word 'region'.
* ^ Government of the
United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern
Ireland; Government of
Ireland (1998), _Northern
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explorations_, SAGE Publications: London: "In Northern
objectives of contemporary nationalists are the reunification of
Ireland and the removal of British government."
* ^ Peter Dorey, 1995, _British politics since 1945_, Blackwell
Publishers: Oxford: "Just as some Nationalists have been prepared to
use violence in order to secure Irish reunification, so some Unionists
have been prepared to use violence in order to oppose it."
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Ireland became a distinct region of the United
Order in Council on 3 May 1921 (Statutory Rules & Orders
published by authority (SR"> Its constitutional roots remain the Act
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Great Britain , the other by the pre-1801 Parliament of
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* ^ Richard English, "The Interplay of Non-violent and Violent
Action in Northern Ireland, 1967–72", in Adam Roberts and Timothy
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Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present_, Oxford
University Press, 2009; ISBN 978-0-19-955201-6 , pp. 75–90.
* ^ The Ballast report: "...the
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this was collusion by certain police officers with identified UVF
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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
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Ireland should be for it (one of the following)"
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long-term policy for Northern
Ireland should be for it to , ark.ac.uk;
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* ^ _A_ _B_ "countries within a country". The official site of the
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UK Statistics Authority . 11 November 2005. Archived from the original
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geography in the UK is the 4 countries—England, Scotland, Wales, and
* ^ Example: "\'Normalisation\' plans for Northern Ireland
unveiled". Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1
August 2005. Retrieved 11 November 2009. or "26 January 2006". Office
of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1 August 2005. Retrieved
11 November 2009.
* ^ Example: Office for National Statistics (1999), _Britain 2000:
the Official Yearbook of the United Kingdom_, London: The Stationery
Office or Office for National Statistics (1999), _UK electoral
statistics 1999_, London: Office for National Statistics
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* ^ Example: "Background – Northern Ireland". Office of Public
Sector Information. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009.
Retrieved 11 November 2009. or "Acts of the Northern
(and other primary legislation for Northern Ireland)". Office of
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Ireland_, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
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Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland_, Belfast:
United Kingdom (2007), "Report of the
United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland" (PDF), _Report by Governments on the
Situation in their Countries on the Progress Made in the
Standardization of Geographical Names Since the Eight Conferences_,
New York: United Nations, archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March
2009, retrieved 29 October 2011
* ^ _A_ _B_ A. Aughey & D. Morrow (1996), _Northern Ireland
Politics_, London: Longman
* ^ P. Close; D. Askew; Xin X. (2007), _The Beijing Olympiad: The
Political Economy of a Sporting Mega-Event_, Oxon: Routledge
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* ^ M Crenshaw (1985), "An Organizational Approach to the Analysis
of Political Terrorism", _Orbis_, 29 (3)
* ^ P Kurzer (2001), _Markets and moral regulation: cultural change
in the European Union_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
* ^ J Morrill, ed. (2004), _The promotion of knowledge: lectures to
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of Unionism Since the
Anglo-Irish Agreement_, Cork: Cork University
* ^ W. V. Shannon (1984), K.; nbsp; M. Cahill, eds., _The American
Irish Revival: A Decade of the Recorder_, Associated Faculty Press
* ^ R. Beiner (1999), _Theorizing Nationalism_, Albany: State
University of New York Press
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in the opening paragraph". _The Daily Telegraph_. UK. Retrieved 16
* ^ "
The Guardian style guide". _The Guardian_. UK. 14 December
2008. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
* ^ Examples of usage of this term include Radio
Ulster , Ulster
Orchestra and RUC ; political parties such as the
Party '; paramilitary organisations including the
Ulster Volunteer Force ; and political campaigns such
Ulster Says No " and "Save
Ulster from Sodomy ".
* ^ Parliamentary Reports of the Parliament of Northern Ireland,
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Ireland and it is normally appropriate to make secondary references to
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Sinn Féin . 14 August
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Committee. 6 May 2007. Archived from the original on 22 December 2005.
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and the War for Legitimacy_. Edinburgh University Press. p. 114. ISBN
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and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary_. Edinburgh University Press.
p. 163. ISBN 978-0-253-34708-4 .
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p. 174. ISBN 978-0-415-45504-6 .
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Met Office . January
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* ^ Many Nationalists use the name _County Derry_. policy
is to use Londonderry for the county and
Derry for the city. The name
usage does not indicate an endorsement for either community's
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Irish Times_. 1 April 2015.
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0-86281-593-2 . Chapter 2 \'Who Wants a United Ireland? Constitutional
Preferences among Catholics and Protestants\' by Richard Breen (1996),
in, Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: The Fifth Report Retrieved
24 August 2006; Summary: In 1989—1994, 79% Protestants replied
"British" or "Ulster", 60% of Catholics replied "Irish."
* ^ Northern
Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1999; Module:Community
Relations, Variable:NINATID Summary:72% of Protestants replied
"British". 68% of Catholics replied "Irish".
* ^ Northern
Ireland Life and Times Survey. Module:Community
Relations. Variable:BRITISH. Summary: 78% of Protestants replied
* ^ Northern
Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1999; Module:Community
Relations, Variable:IRISH Summary: 77% of Catholics replied "Strongly
* ^ Institute of Governance, 2006 _"National identities in the UK:
do they matter?"_ Briefing No. 16, January 2006; Retrieved from
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2006. (211 KB) on 24 August 2006. Extract: "Three-quarters of
Northern Ireland's Protestants regard themselves as British, but only
12 per cent of Northern Ireland's Catholics do so. Conversely, a
majority of Catholics (65%) regard themselves as Irish, whilst very
few Protestants (5%) do likewise. Very few Catholics (1%) compared to
Protestants (19%) claim an
Ulster identity but a Northern Irish
identity is shared in broadly equal measure across religious
traditions."_Details from attitude surveys are in Demographics and
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accepted. The demise of the Parliamentary Party stands in direct
parallel to the just as rapidly diminishing power of its symbols. The
green flag and 'God save Ireland' began to be discredited as symbols
of constitutional nationalism and, instead, the symbols of
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Irish people identified itself with the political aims of the Easter
revolutionaries. The use of symbols made apparent that the occurrences
of 1916 initiated a new epoch in Irish history much in the same as the
Union of 1801 and the Famine of 1845–8 did.
Both the national flag and the national anthem of present-day Ireland
drive origins directly from the Rising. At first it still appeared as
if the revolutionaries would take over the old symbols because on the
roof of their headquarters, the
Dublin General Post Office, a green
flag with the harp was hoisted next to the republican tricolour
although with the inscription 'Irish Republic'. Even 'Got save
Ireland' was sung by the revolutionaries during Easter week. But after
the failure of the Rising and the subsequent executions of the leading
revolutionaries the tricolour and 'The Soldier's Song' became more and
more popular as symbols of the rebellion. * ^ Vandals curbed by
BBC News, 25 November 2008.
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Relations in Northern
Ireland 3.2 Flags and Anthems". Retrieved 26 May
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Anthems: Rugby Union". _International Herald Tribune via HighBeam
Research_. Retrieved 26 May 2008. the band played _Nkosi Sikelel'
iAfrika_ and _Die Stem_ for the Springboks and "Soldier's Song", the
national anthem that is otherwise known as _Amhran na bhFiann_, and
"Ireland's Call", the team's official rugby anthem.
* ^ _A_ _B_ How do other sports in the island cope with the
situation? The Herald, 3 April 2008
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