How greets the Irish Army

International - The difficult past of two neighbors

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Ireland's President Michael Higgins is visiting Queen Elizabeth II in London. Not a matter of course. Relations with Great Britain have been strained for a long time.

Great Britain and Ireland are on the road to reconciliation. It was different for a long time.

  • In 1916 the Easter Rising takes place. Militant Republicans are trying to force independence from Britain. The various resistance groups unite to form the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The uprising is bloodily suppressed. Still, it is considered a turning point in Irish history. The bloody civil war ends with Ireland's independence.

The result of the civil war: the Irish Free State is established in the south of the island in 1922. Northern Ireland, formed as early as 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act from six of the nine counties of Ulster, immediately made use of its right to leave the Free State and remain with the United Kingdom. Hoping to secure its influence over the new state of Ireland, England insisted that Ireland remain a member of the Commonwealth. Northern Ireland is a separate political entity with its own constitution, parliament and local government.

A republic and a "Bloody Sunday"

  • The Free State of Ireland becomes the Republic of Ireland. It withdraws from the Commonwealth against the will of England, but continues to lay claim to the six counties in Northern Ireland.
  • The emergence of a Catholic civil rights movement leads in 1968 and eventually to unrest between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. In 1969 the British army intervened on a massive scale. The conflict over Northern Ireland is escalating.

During the “bloody Sunday” on January 30, 1972, British paratroopers shot dead unarmed demonstrators. As a result, the IRA repeatedly carried out bomb attacks - including in London. Between 3,300 and 3,700 people are killed in the conflict in Northern Ireland and around 42,000 are injured - depending on the estimate.

However, the majority of Northern Irish Catholics reject the IRA. On the other hand, there are Protestant unionists. They terrorize the Catholic civilian population.

The «Good Friday Agreement» and relaxation

  • On April 10, 1998 an agreement was reached between the Government of the Republic of Ireland, the Government of Great Britain and the parties in Northern Ireland. Ireland renounces the demand for a reunification with Northern Ireland. However, the Republic of Ireland has a say in matters relating to Northern Ireland. The agreement also provides for the self-government of Northern Ireland with equal participation of Protestants and Catholics.
  • In May 2011, the British Queen Elizabeth II was the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland. When a British head of state last visited in 1911, Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom. The Queen's visit is welcomed by a majority of the Irish. It is an important symbol of the reconciliation between Ireland and the former colonial power Great Britain.
  • In April 2014, an Irish head of state will be officially received in the UK for the first time. The tense relations between the two countries appear to be returning to normal.

The left-liberal British Guardian sees it differently: "President Michael Higgins' four-day visit to London means an opportunity to continue the process of normalization between Ireland and Great Britain." But you shouldn't be fooled. Past tensions have not all been calmed down, especially in relation to Northern Ireland.

srf / muei

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