The Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland

Short Introduction:

Ireland is small, independent country located in northwestern Europe. The country's official name is Ireland, but it is generally called the Republic of Ireland to distinguish it from Northern Ireland. Dublin is the capital and the largest city of Ireland. The country occupies about five‑sixth of the island in the British Isels. The remaining one-sixth of the Island is occupied by Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In Gaelic, the ancient language of Ireland, the country is called Éire. Gaelic and English are the country's two official languages. Ireland also has been long known by the poetic name Erin. Erin go bragh is a well‑known phrase in Gaelic that means Ireland forever.

Ireland is also called the Emerald Isle because of its beautiful green countryside. Rolling farmlands, which are mainly pasture, cover much of the central part of the country, and mountains raise near

the coasts.

Ireland is divided into 26 counties, and some of them are known for something special. For example, County Kerry is famous for its mountains and the scenic Lakes of Killarney. Waterford is known for its delicate cut glass, and Donegal is famous for its tweed cloth.

Many people consider the Irish to be exceptionally warm-hearted and friendly. The Irish also have a reputation for hospitality, close families, ties, and skill as writers and storytellers.

The Irish has a long history that includes many hardships and struggles. In the 1840´s a potato famine killed hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and forces hundreds of thousands more to leave their homeland.

After the famine, a shortage of jobs and other problems caused emigration to continue. As a result, little more than half as many people live in Ireland today as lived there in 1845.

Ireland was ruled by Great Britain for hundreds of years. Ireland gained its independence from Great Britain in 1921.

Facts in brief:

Capital: Dublin

Official languages: English and Gaelic

Area: 70.000 km²

Population: 3.700.000

Chiefs products: Agriculture (barley, beef, potatoes, sheep)

Manufacturing (alcoholic beverages, chemicals,  clothing)

National holiday : Saint Patrick's Day, March 17th.

Religions (Republic) : Catholic (~90%), Protestant (~5%), Others (~5%).

[In comparison with Northern Ireland: Catholic 40%, Protestant 55%, Others 5%.]

Currency : 1 Irish pound (punt) = 100 pence (£ Ir)

The Irish flag is known as the Tricolour. It is made up of the colours green, white and orange. The green stands

for the Catholics of Ireland, the orange for the Protestants and white for peace between both.

The National Anthem of Ireland is "The Soldier's Song".




Ireland is a republic with a president, a prime minister, and a parliament. The goverment is based on the Irish Constitution of 1937.

  . Ireland's official head of state, is elected by the people to a seven-year term and may serve only two terms. Presidential duties include calling Parliament into session, appointing the prime minister and other officials, and signing law passed by Parliament. But the president's powers are limited. For example, the prime minister must be nominated by the Parliament's House of Representatives. Other officials appointed

by the president are nominated by the prime minister with the approval of

the House.

  . The prime minister, the real head of the government, administers laws passed by Parliament. The president appoints the prime minister to a term of a maximum of five years. In most cases, the prime minister is the leader of the party with a majority in the House of Representatives. The prime

minister is called the Taoiseach in Gaelic. The prime minister selects members to serve in the Cabinet. Cabinet members head government departments.

   consists of the president, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives makes Ireland's laws. It ahs 166 members, who are elected by the people to serve a maximum of five years. The Senate serves mainly as an advisory body to the prime minister and the House of Representatives. It has 60 members, who also serve maximum terms of five years. The prime minister appoints 11 members of the Senate, and graduates of the National University of Ireland and of the University of Dublin each choose three members. The rest are elected from panels of candidates representing five fields - (1) agriculture, (2) Commerce and industry, (3) culture and education, (4) labour, and (5) public administration. They are elected of a body of about 1.000 members, made up of the members of Parliament and local representatives.

  . Ireland has five major parties - Fianna Fáil (Soldiers and Destiny), also called the Republican party; Fine Gael (Gaelic people); the Labour party; the Progressive Democratic Party; and the Workers' Party. All people at least 18 years old who have resided in Ireland for five years may vote.

  . Ireland is divided into 26 counties. For administrative purposes, Tipperary is split in two, making 27 counties. Ireland also has 5 county boroughs. The cities of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford make up the county boroughs. Each county and county borough is governed by an elected council and a manager appointed by the national government.









. Most of the Irish people are descended from peoples who settled in Ireland during the past 7.000 years. These people

included Celts, Vikings, Normans, and the British. Each group influenced Irish civilisation and helped shape the character of the Irish people.

  Today, Ireland has a population of about 4 million. About three-fifths of the Irish people live in cities and large towns. The rest live in small rural towns and villages and in the countryside. Only two Irish cities have more than 100.000 people. Dublin, the capital and largest city an d Cork.

  Emigration has been a major problem in Ireland. In the past, thousands of people left the country every year because of limited job opportunities there. Today, many people who were born in Ireland live outside the country. Most of them live in Great Britain or in the United States. During most of the period since 1920's, the development of  new industries in Ireland and the limited number of jobs available in other countries have helped check emigration from Ireland. The population of Ireland has been increasing since 1960's. But during the 1980's, both unemployment and emigration increased.

   Ireland has two official languages, English and Gaelic. All the people speak English, and they have a soft accent called brougue.

  Gaelic is a form of the ancient Celtic language. The Gaelic spoken in Ireland is generally called Irish. It most died out during the period when Great Britain ruled Ireland. But since Ireland became independent in the early 1900's, many Irish people have attempted to bring the language into wider use. Today, Irish schools teach Gaelic, as well as English. About 30 per cent of the people state that they can speak Gaelic well enough to use it in conversation. However, only a small number of them use Gaelic as their everyday language. The Irish government uses both English and Gaelic for official business.


 In Irish cities and towns, most of the people live in houses. Others live in apartments, and apartment living is increasing. Typical houses in Ireland are built of brick or concrete and have four to seven rooms. In rural areas of Ireland, modern houses have replaced most of the thatch-roofed cottages that once dotted the countryside.

  The roman Catholic Church has a long played major role in Irish social life. Almost every Irish city has a Catholic cathedral, and nearly all the towns and villages have a Catholic church. Most people attend church regularly. At their local church, the people join religious societies and

take part in social gatherings and other activities.

Catholic beliefs influence Irish law. For example, divorce - which the Catholic Church opposes - is illegal in Ireland.

  Many of the Irish enjoy visiting their neighbourhood pub (public house). People gather in pubs to drink beer and whiskey, talk with friends, and

listen to music. Large number of young people in Ireland once remained

single and lived with their parents until they were over the age of 30. Farmland and jobs were scarce, and few young people could afford to marry and raise families. Marriage practices have changed, and today young people marry earlier than they did in the past.

  . Irish cooking is simple. Principal foods include beef, bread, chicken, fruit, mutton, pork, and potatoes and other vegetables. Potatoes grow well in the climate of the country and have been important food in Ireland hundreds of years.

  The favourite alcoholic drink in Ireland is beer. A type of beer called stout is especially popular. The Irish use malt to make Irish whiskey, a world famous liquid. A drink called Irish coffee is made with coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and cream.

  . About 95 per cent of the Irish people are Roman Catholics. The country's largest Protestant church is the Church of Ireland. Other Protestant churches in Ireland include the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

Irish Literature:


Irish Literature reflects the history and the spirit or the Irish people better than any other form. This literature consists of folk tales, lyric and narrative poetry, drama, novels, and short stories. Irish Literature is especially noted for its imaginative use of language.

Early English legends describe the brave deeds of kings, saints, and other Irish heroes. Many lyric poems written by monks during the Middle Age shows a keen observation and devout appreciation of nature. A number of plays produced in Ireland in the early 1900's express outrage at Britain's refusal to grant Irish independence.

Early Irish literature was written in the Irish, or Gaelic language. In the 12th century, Norman barons from England began to seize Irish lands. The English language was introduced into Ireland by English artisans and shopkeepers, who settled on the Normans' estates. The English government seized control of Ireland in the middle of the 16th century. By the 1800's, the use of English had become so widespread that Gaelic almost died out. An outburst of Irish nationalism led to the revival of Gaelic during the late 1800's. But today, nearly all Irish authors write in English.

Many modern Irish authors use the vivid, earthy, everyday language of the people. But many of their works blend realism with fantasy. Exuberant descriptions adds to the richness of the language, as do irony, puns, and satire. Yet, a melancholy, almost pessimistic mood strongly flavours much modern Irish literature.

  . Ireland has produced an amazing number of well‑known writers. Many of these personalities have established their names world-wide.

The following is a brief guide to some of the most famous authors, who were born in Ireland or lived there for a considerable period of time.

Samuel Becket: novelist and dramatist; awarded the Nobel Prize of                         Literature;

Works: Murphy, Silence;

James Joyce: poet and writer; in his house is now a museum in his memory;

Works: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man;


Sean O'Casey: originally a labourer. O'Casey became one of Ireland's most famous dramatists.

Works: The shadow of a Gunman, Purple Dust;

Jonathan Swift: known mainly as a satirist, became dean of St. Patrick's;

Works: Gulliver's Travels';

Oscar Wild: born in Dublin, moved to London;

Works: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of being Earnest;

History of Ireland:

(from 6000 B.C. to 1919)

Historian believe that the first people to live in Ireland came from the European mainland about 6000 B.C. They settled on the north-east coast, what is now Northern Ireland, and then moved inland along the rivers.

They lived by hunting and fishing. These first settlers were followed by people who grew corps and raised animals. Later, people who made gold ornaments, pottery, and tools settled in the country.

  . About 400 B.C., Celtic tribes from Great Britain and the European mainland invaded Ireland. The Celts gained control of the island and divided it into small kingdoms. The rulers of the kingdoms often thought over their territories and boundaries.

   brought Christianity to Ireland in the A.D. 400's. Saint Patrick was born in Britain and was taken to Ireland as a slave in the early 400's. After six years of slavery, he escaped to France, where he studied for the priesthood. He returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. The Irish accepted Christianity and came to regard Patrick as their Patron (guardian) saint.

Today, his feast day, March 17, is celebrated as a national holiday.

   Saint Patrick also introduced the Roman alphabet and the Latin literature into Ireland. After his death Irish monasteries flourished

as a centers of learning.

  . About 800, Vikings began raiding the east and south coasts of Ireland. They settled near harbours and established Ireland's firsts towns, including what are now Cork, Dublin, Limerick, and Waterford. They also raided the countryside, robbing and destroying monasteries. At first, the Irish people could little do to defend themselves against the well-armed Vikings. But in 1014, the Irish high king, Brian Boru, organized the princes of the several kingdoms and defeated the Vikings at Clontarf. The Vikings were allowed to remain in their seaport towns and, in time, were absorbed by the Irish people.


  .In 1170 the Normans from England , led by a Welsh Earl Strongbow, invaded Ireland. They soon had control of Dublin and Strongbow became King of Leinster. The next year King Henry II of

England came to Ireland to establish his power over Strongbows Kingdom. King Henry had been asked by the Pope to reform the Church in Ireland. The Pope ordered the Irish to accept King Henry as their ruler.

By the 15th Century, the Normans held nearly all of Ireland. But the Normans' loyality to England weakend as they intermarried with the Irish and adoped their language and customs. By the early 1400's, England actually controlled only a small area around Dublin called the Pale.

  . In the 1600 century Henry VIII tried to regain England's influence in Ireland. He took all power away the Earls and Norman noblemen who had long controlled English interests in Ireland, and set up more direct control. Then Henry forced Ireland's parliament to declare him king of Ireland. He established English laws in Ireland and tried, with little success, to introduce Protestantism in the country.

  After Henry's death, his children continued his policies over the century. His daughter Elizabeth, tried to strengthen English rule by beginning

what is known as the plantation of Ireland, which means that she

gave Irish counties English settlers. Elizabeth attempted to establish Protestantism in Ireland, like her father. She outlawed Roman Catholic services and executed a number of bishops and priests. But as a result, the Irish Catholics became more and more united.

  In the late 1500's, a series of revolts against English broke out in Ulster, a large province in Northern Ireland. The revolts were lead by Shane O'Neill. But the revolts were put down.

  By the start of the 17th Century James I, who followed Elizabeth, tried to prevent further revolts by continuing the plantation of Ireland. He seized land in Ulster and gave it to English and Scottish Protestants, creating the Protestants majority that still exists in Northern Ireland. Many native Irish became employees of the settlers.

After James II, a Catholic, became king of England , he abolished many of the anti-Catholic laws established earlier. But in 1688, the England people, most of them whom were Protestants, forced James to give up the throne. William III, a Protestant, then became king. James went to Ireland and organised an army to fight the English. But Protestants in Ulster supported William and helped the English. defeat James in the Battle of the Boyne.

Following William's victory, more land was taken from Irish Catholics. They held only about seventh of the land and were forbidden to purchase or inherit land. They were excluded from the Irish parliament and the

army, and were restricted in the rights to practise Catholicism.

  . During the 1700's, the British kept tight control over Ireland and limited the powers of the Irish Parliament. Many Irish Protestants objected the restrictions, and the parliament demanded legislative freedom. Great Britain met the demands and the all-Protestant Irish Parliament ruled the country for the next 20 years. Parliament restored to Catholics their rights to hold land and lifted the

restrictions on their religious rights. But it refused to give them any political rights.

Some Protestants in Parliament tried to gain more rights for the

Catholics. After their attempts failed, they formed a group called the "United Irishmen". At first this group sought equal rights for all Irish people. Later it demanded complete independence for Ireland from British rule. In 1798, the "United Irishmen" staged an unsuccessful rebellion. After the rebellion the British prime minister persuaded the British and Irish Parliaments to pass the Act of Union. Under the act, which went into effect in 1801, Ireland officially became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Irish Parliament was then ended, and zhr Irish sent representatives to the British Parliament. Daniel O'Connell, an Irish Catholic leader, helped Catholic men win the right to serve in the British Parliament and to hold most other Public offices.

  . During the early 1800's, Ireland's population grew rapidly. About half the people lived on small farms that produced little income. Others leased land on estates and had to pay high rents to landlords.

Because of the poverty, most of the Irish people depended on potatoes for food. But in 2 years, Ireland's potato crop failed because of the plant disease.

About 800.000 people died of starvation or disease, and hundreds of thousands more left the country and moved especially to the United States.

The British government, under high pressure from various Irish groups, gradually passed laws to help the Irish. These laws protected tenants' rights and established fair rents. Later laws provided financial help so that tenants could buy land from their landlords.

   In the 19th century, some Irish people began to demand home rule for their country. Under home rule, Ireland would

have remained part of Great Britain but would have had its own parliament for domestic affairs. The British Liberal Party favoured the plan and the prime minister introduced the First Home Rule Bill in order to try and end the Problems in Ireland. But Protestants in Ulster opposed it because they feared a Catholic parliament. They became known as Irish Unionists.

In 1905, an Irish journalist named Arthur Griffith founded a political organisation called Sinn Féin, meaning We Ourselves. The organisation

insisted that the Irish should be allowed to govern themselves and it

didn't support home rule. The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret organisation that wanted a completely independent Irish Republic, also was active in the early 1900's. Members of the IRB became known as republicans.

The Unionists set up their own military force in Ulster called UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) to establish to make sure that home rule didn't come to Ulster. In the same year Irish Nationalists set up the IVF (Irish Volunteer Force).

In 1914 World War I broke out and prevented the home rule from taking effect. Most of the Irish people supported Great Britain during the war. But the republicans believed that the war gave Ireland a chance to gain independence. They began a rebellion in Dublin which took over key buildings, on Easter Monday 1916. Fighting raged for a week before English troops defeated the rebels. The British executed 15 republican leaders after the uprising.

At first the Easter Rebellion received little support from Ireland's people. But the executions created great sympathy for the republican movement. In 1918, the republicans gained control of Sinn Féin and won 75 per cent of the seats in the British Parliament. But instead of going to London to take their seats in Parliament, the new members met in Dublin. They called themselves the House of Representatives and declared all Ireland an independent republic an January 21th, 1919. Following the declaration, fighting broke out between the Irish rebels and British  forces.

Irish Republican Army:

Irish republican Army, short IRA, is a secret military organisation that seeks to unite the independent country of Ireland with Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland occupies the north-eastern corner of the island of Ireland. Ireland occupies the rest. The IRA also shares the goal of its political wing, called Sing Féin.

The IRA was formed in 1919 as a part of a movement to gain

independence from Great Britain. Ireland and Northern Ireland are a single country, which was united with Great Britain and ruled by the British. Most of the people in the country's six north-western counties were Protestants, and most of those in the southern and western counties were Roman Catholics. The British government had proposed that Ireland remained united with Great Britain but take control of its own domnestic affaires. But most of the Protestants in the north-western province of Ulster opposed this plan because they didn't want to be a minority in a Catholic nation.

  The Irish Free State. In 1919, the IRA began a guerrilla war for independence from British rule. The British had superior weapons and more soldiers. But the IRA harassed the police and military with ambushes and sudden raids. In 1920, the British government passed the Government of Ireland Act. The act divided Ireland into two states, each with limited powers of self-government. Under the act the six counties of north-eastern Ireland were separated from the rest of Ireland and became Northern Ireland. But most of the southern Catholics rejected the act and demanded a single, united Ireland republic. The guerrilla war continued until 1921, when British and Irish leaders agreed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. This treaty made Ireland a dominion - that is a self-governing country owing allegiance to the British Crown. The dominion was called the Irish Free State. Now Ireland had two Parliaments, one for the Nationalists and another for the Unionists.

The treaty split the IRA. One group accepted it and became part of the army of the Irish Free State. The other group, called the Irregulars, rejected the treaty because it didn't provide complete independence from Great Britain and union with Northern Ireland. In 1922, civil war broke out. The Irregulars were defeated in 1923 but continued as an underground organisation.

In 1949, the Irish Free State renounced its dominion status and declared itself an independence country, fulfilling a major IRA goal. But Northern Ireland remained united with Great Britain. In the 1950's the IRA periodically raided British installations in Northern Ireland and embarrass the Irish government.

In the late 1960's, Catholics in Northern Ireland began to protest discriminations by Protestants. Fighting broke out between

Catholics and Protestants, and the IRA took up the cause of the Catholics. Britain sent troops to restore order, and the IRA and the British soldiers were soon fighting each other.

Then a deep split developed within the IRA over strategy and tactics. The dominant group resulting from the division was called the Provisional IRA, the other group became known as the Official IRA. The Provisional IRA includes of the youngest and most aggressive members chiefly committed to social change. It ahs limited the use of violence to achieve its objectives.

Today the official IRA poses little threat to British security forces or to the Irish population. However the strong alliance between the Provisional IRA and the Sinn Féin continues to hamper stable government in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.


  . In the 12th century, the King of Englands Anglo-Norman knights wrested Dublin from it's Viking Rulers. They laid the foundations for a thriving medieval city, a city with thick walls, many towers and gates, part of which can still be seen. These rulers built two great cathedrals, Christchurch and St.Patricks, one of whose deans was the famous Jonathon Swift, author of 'Gulliver's Travels'. Dublin Castle, also dating from this time has been rebuilt as a Georgian Palace. These buildings still play their part in the life of the city. The Castle is an elegant venue for many international meetings.

Over the following centuries, Dublin evolved into an important city welcoming Dutch, Hugenot, English and Jewish immigrants, all of whom contributed greatly to it's growth.

Towards the end of the 17th century, thanks to the vision of a viceroy, a new and beautiful city started to rise near the sea and away from the old town. This time saw the building of the Royal Hospital, the enclosing of the Phoenix Park (the largest urban park

in Europe), the wide streets, impressive public buildings such as the present Bank of Ireland (originally the Parliament building), the Customs House, the Four Courts, City Hall, Leinster House (built as

a private residence, now seat of our parliament) and Trinity College.

After the Act of Union 1801, when Ireland's parliament was transferred to Westminster, London, the character of the city changed. Ireland was going through many upheavals like the Great Famine and Dublin had its share of these too, but beautiful buildings continued to rise, including the National Museum, National Art Gallery, Natural History Museum, the National Library and the General Post Office in O'Connell Street.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Dublin became the centre of two great cultural movements - the Gaelic League, aimed at restoring the Irish Language, and the Irish Literary Renaissance.

Dublin is now the thriving capital of an independent Ireland and is the centre of the political, diplomatic, administrative and commercial life of the country. It is home to a population of approximately one million people.

Things to see:


O'Connell Street: it's a 50 metre wide boulevard, which is lined with trees and monuments.

Dame Street: nowadays a street of commerce, of banks and insurance companies. Also noted for its many Chinese Restaurants

The Abbey Theatre: Ireland's national playhouse. The theatre soon earned a world-wide reputation through the great works of Sygne and O'Casey.

St. Patrick's Cathedral: the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland dates back to the 12th century

St. Stephen's Green: one of the biggest city squares in the world. It was Sir Arthur Guinness who arranged for the green to be landscaped. It's a delightful park, where one can relax among the lawns, trees, fountains and duck ponds. 

Dublin can claim to be one of the most beautifully situated of the world's capitals, located in the wide plain overlooked by the legendary Wicklow Mountains and facing a broad sweeping bay that leads into the Irish Sea. The city has a population of a million people which is about a third of the total population of the country. Dublin is the centre of government, commerce and industry and it is also to seaport at the moment of the River Liffey.

The original small settlement was named Ath Cliath, which means a 'ford of hurdles' or the 'Hurdle ford' and was located near the mouth of the River Poddle on piles of stones

8. St. Patricks Cathedral: the Cathedral occupies the site of a Celtic church of the Saint. It derived it's international fame from association with the 18th century writer and author of 'Gulliver's Travels', Jonathan Swift, who was Dean of St. Patrick from 1713 tp 1745.

Dublin was founded by the Vikings over a thousand years ago, when their longships sailed up the River Liffey. They called their settlement Dyflin, (their pronunciation of 'Dubh Linn', the old Gaelic name for an earlier settlement, as the area we now call Dublin was, from the time of St.Patrick, dotted with little Christian Curches.)

In 1688 war broke out in Europe. On one side was France and on the other the Grand Alliance (made up of countries such as Spain, Holland, Germany and Prussia). The Grand Alliance's commander was William of Orange, a Protestant from Holland. The King of England at the time was a Catholic, James II. Jame's daughter Mary married William of Orange. William was now heir to the English throne.

In November 1688 William became King of England after the English Parliament invited him to do so, James 2nd fled to France. In 1689 James II landed in Ireland to begin his fight for the English throne. James had a strong army and drove the Protestant supporters of William out of many areas. In 1690 Grand Alliance troops arrived in Belfast to help William . Louis 16th of France sent troops to aid James. William and James led their armies to the River Boyne in Co Meath. They fought at what became known as the Battle of the Boyne. William won the battle and James fled to France.

After this a series of Penal laws were passed by the Irish Parliament to try and rid Ireland of Catholicism. In 1728 another law was passed which banned Catholics from voting. Presbyterians also suffered as laws were passed banning them from town councils. After a mass rebellion in 1798 against the English by the United Irishmen (led by a Protestant, Wolfe Tone) action was taken against Irish Republicanism. In 1800 the Act of Union was passed. A new country was formed, The United Kingdom of Great Britian and Ireland. A new flag, the Union Jack, was created. The Irish parliament was abolished and Ireland was ruled directly from the London parliament.

In 1840 there were over 8 million people in Ireland. The main crop at the time was the potato. Under law Catholics could not own land. Due to this the potato was very popular as it was an intensive crop. In 1845 a potato blight wiped out a great deal of the crop. The next year the crop was wiped out. Thousands of people starved to death. Many more emigrated to America. Tenants who could not pay the rent (as they had no potatoes to sell) were evicted by landlords. By 1900 the population had fallen by over 40%.

In the 1870s evictions continued to rise. The Home Rule party was formed by Isaac Butt. The party wanted a new Irish Parliament that could pass laws in it's own right, but did not want independence from Britian. In 1879 the leader of the Home Rule party, Charles Stewart Parnell, became President of the newly formed Land League. The Land Leauge wanted to increase tenants rights and reduce evictions. Boycotts of lanlords started and violence flared.

In 1886 the British Prime Minister, Gladstone, introduced the First Home Rule Bill in order to try and end the problems in Ireland. It was defeated in the London Parliament. Many Protestants in Ireland did not want Home Rule. They became known as Irish Unionists. In 1893 Gladstone introduced the Second Home Rule bill. Although it was passed in the House of Commons it was defeated by the House of Lords.

In 1905 Arthur Griffith set up a new party, Sinn Fein. The aim of this party was for Ireland to become an independent republic. They did not support Home Rule. The Third Home Rule bill was introduced in 1912. The British Conservative party supported the Irish Unionists and opposed the bill. They felt that the north east of Ireland should be treated separatley from the rest of Ireland as there were so many Protestants in this area. The Unionists set up their own military force in Ulster in 1913. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was established to make sure that Home Rule did not come to Ulster. In the same year Irish Nationalists set up the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF). They did not want Ireland to be split over Home Rule.

In 1914 the First World War started. The Third Home Rule was to be put off until after the war. In 1916 a group from the IVF and the Irish Republican Brotherhood planned a rebellion against the British in Ireland. It was led by Padraig Pearse. On Easter Monday the rebels took over key buildings in Dublin. A battle raged between the British and rebels. After five days the fighting was over and the rebels surrendered. Many Irish did not support the rebellion, however they were shocked when over 100 rebels were executed after trials. Eamonn de Valera became President of Sinn Fein in 1917. He had taken part in the Easter Rising but had not be executed.

The following year Sinn Fein won 73 seat's in the London Parliament. The Home Rule party won only 6. The Sinn Fein MPs refused to take up their seats in Westminister and instead set up their own Parliament, Dail Eireann, in Dublin. In 1919 the IVF renamed themselves the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with a view to forcing independence for all Ireland. Soon the War of Independence began. Britian sent groups of ex-First World War solders to fight the IRA. However the 'Black and Tans'(as they were known) started to shoot innocent civilians in reprisal for attacks on them. Due to this support grew for the IRA.

In 1920 the British Government passed the Government of Ireland Act. Ireland now had two Parliaments, one for the Nationalists and one for Unionists. The six counties of Northern Ireland were under the control of the Unioist Parliaments. The Nortern Ireland Prime Minister was Ulster Unionist leader Sir James Craig. Sinn Fein refused to recognise the Nationalist Parliament and continued to meet in Dail Eireann. The IRA led by Michael Collins continued to fight for more independence.

In 1921 the IRA and British signed a truce. Collins negotiated with the British government and signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty which created the Irish Free State and replaced the Nationalist Parliament. Eamonn de Valera became the first Prime Minister of the Irish Free State. The United Kingdom was renamed 'The United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland'. However a split developed between those Irish Nationalists who wanted a 32 county independent Ireland and those who supported the treaty. Sinn Fein voted in the Dail on the treaty. 64 voted for the treaty and 57 against. Eamonn de Valera and his supporters walked out of the Dail in protest.

In 1922 the Irish Civil War broke out between the two groups. Michael Collins, the head of the Irish Army, was killed by the IRA during the war. By 1923 the IRA, who were fighting against the treaty, called off it's campaign. In Northern Ireland there was a huge rise in sectarian violence during this time. The Tyrone and Fermanagh councils were dissolved when they declared that they would be answerable to the Dublin Parliament. The Northern Ireland government increased Unionist control of councils by strategically redrawing constituency boundaries. Richer people were given more votes depending on how much land they owned.

In 1927 a new party, formed by Eammon de Valera, Fianna Fail stood at elections in the Irish Free State. This party wanted full independence from Britian. Five years later Fianna Fail swept to power and de Valera set about reducing British control. In 1937 de Valera introduced a new constitution. The Irish Free State was renamed as Eire. An elected President was head of state, not the King. Also Eire's boundary consisted of the whole island of Ireland. The constitution was narrowly accepted by the people.On Easter Monday 1949 the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) John Costello brought Eire out of the British Commonwealth and declared that it was a fully independent republic. Eire was renamed the Republic of Ireland.

In 1963 the Ulster Unionist Terence O'Neill became Prime Minister of Northren Ireland. He wanted to bridge the gaps between the two communities in the province. O'Neill improved relations with the Republic of Ireland. However many Unionists did not like this. Ian Paisley set up the Protestant Unionist Party and began to oppose O'Neill strongly. During the late 1960s many Civil rights marches took place. The marchers were mainly Nationalist Catholics who wanted an end to gerrymandering and religious discrimination. Many of these marches were attacked by loyalists and off-duty policemen.

1969 saw some of the worst rioting in Northern Ireland's history, mainly in response to the heavy crackdown on the Civil Rights movement. The Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch threatened to invade Northern Ireland to protect the Catholic population. The British government realised that Nortern Ireland was about to collapse and ordered the British Army into Belfast and Derry. In 1970 the Provisional IRA split from the IRA and began a bombing campaign in Northern Ireland to force the British to withdraw. In 1971 internment-without-trial was introduced in Northern Ireland in the hope of preventing terrorists from carrying out further murders. However many innocent people were detained.

In 1972 a huge anti-internment rally took place in Derry. Although there was no trouble at the march rioting broke out as it ended. The Army, believing themselves to be under armed attack by the IRA opened fire. 14 people were killed, none of whom were subsequently found to be armed. The event became known as 'Bloody Sunday'. None of the soldiers involved were charged. This outraged the nationalist community and the IRA stepped up its campaign. The Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, facing a near civil war demanded the British government allow them to arm the Northern Ireland Police Force, the RUC. However the British Prime Minister ,Edward Heath, suspended the Northern Ireland government and placed the province under direct control from London. The Northern Ireland Office was established to govern the province.

In 1973 the British set up an assembly for Northern Ireland where Unionists and Nationalists would share power. After elections a governing Executive of Northern Ireland was set up. Before the Executive could take over running the Northern Ireland the role that Republic of Ireland was to play had to be defined. Representatives from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and London met at Sunningdale in England to discuss this. A Council of Ireland was formed which would work to improve relations between the two states. The Sunningdale Agreement let the Executive take control of Northern Ireland. Anti-power sharing people were outraged that the Republic was to have a say in Northern Ireland and wanted the agreement scrapped.

In 1974 loyalist paramilitary groups and anti-Sunningdale politicians joined the Ulster Worker's Council. The Council began to organise action against the government. They warned the assembly that if they refused to abolish the Sunningdale agreement that they would strike. The Assembly voted to ignore the UWC's demand and a strike was called. After two weeks almost every business in Northern Ireland was closed. Food was becoming scarce. The Executive collapsed and Northern Ireland was ruled directly again by London. During the rest of the 1970's the IRA campaign of terrorisim and, loyalist responses, continued.

From 1976 terrorist prisoners were classed as common criminals. Before this they were classed as Prisoners of War. In 1980 a number of Republican prisoners went on hunger strike to re-instate the POW status. One of the main hunger strikers was Bobby Sands. Despite being a convict he stood in the 1981 UK General election and won a spectacular victory. The hunger strikers had massive support amoung Nationalists. However British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not make any concessions and Bobby Sands and nine others died of starvation. The IRA increased its violence again. Sinn Fein re-launched itself to the public and Gerry Adams was elected an MP in 1983.

In 1984 the IRA tried to kill the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when they bombed the a hotel in Brighton that she was staying at. Mrs Thatcher escaped but five others were killed. Britian realised that the problem in Northern Ireland would not stop until a settlement was reached. The British and Irish governments began secret negotiations to try and find some common ground to work on. In 1985 the two governments made public what they had agreed on. This was the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Both governments voted for it although all the Ulster Unionist MP's were against the agreement.

Unionists began a campaign to have the agreement abolished. Mass demonstrations were held, led by Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party and James Molyneaux of the Ulster Unionist Party. The UUP and DUP began to boycott all British government officials. Despite the demonstrations their campaign had failed to make any progress by 1988. All during this period violence continued.

From the start of the 1990's there were attempts to create conditions for all party talks in Northern Ireland. The British government hinted that they would talk to Sinn Fein if the IRA halted it's campaign of violence. The leader of the moderate nationalist party, the SDLP, John Hume began to have negotiations with Gerry Adams, the now President of Sinn Fein. The aim was to bring about an IRA ceasefire that would allow Sinn Fein to join the talks process. Loyalist terrorists also now had a voice through new parties such as the Progressive Unionist Party.

During 1993 the British and Irish governments met in London. They set about laying out the basis for future negotiations. This became the Downing Street Declaration which committed both governments to developing new political frameworks and allowed any party that gave up violence to join talks. By 1994 the IRA called a complete cessation of military operations. The loyalist terrorist groups soon called their own cessation.

In 1995 peace talks began but neither Sinn Fein or the loyalist groups were premitted to enter. The British Prime Minister John Major said that terrorists had to decommission their weapons before they could enter the talks. The IRA was furious, saying that decommissioning could not begin until the peace process was complete. In 1996 the IRA announced that their ceasefire was over and exploded a massive bomb in Canary Wharf in London killing two people.

By the summer of 1996 civil unrest in Northern Ireland was high. The Drumcree Orange Parade (a Protestant parade by the Orange Order) in Portadown were blocked by police from marching down the Nationalist Garvaghy Road. Loyalist rioting broke out all over Northern Ireland. The police relented and let the march go ahead. This resulted in several days of Republican rioting. The Loyalist ceasefires also ended.

In 1997 the new British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that all-party talks were to start again. The IRA called a new ceasefire. In September of that year the political parties of Northern Ireland sat down for peace talks. On the 10th April 1998 the talks chairman George Mitchell announced that the parties had reached an agreement. A referendum took place in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and the agreement was passed. Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly took place in June.

However the Unionists refused to join government with Sinn Fein until the IRA decommissioned its weapons. The IRA stated that it would start to decommission once the executive of the Assembly was setup. The deadlock was broken when the Ulster Unionist party voted to join the Assembly. Each of the main political parties gained Ministers in the new Assembly with David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist party becoming First Minister. On December 2nd 1999 direct rule from London ended when the Devolution Order was passed.

The Assembly was suspended in February 2000 and direct rule re-imposed in Northern Ireland after problems arouse over the decommissioning of weapons.

The IVF, which was renamed and called Irish Republican Army (IRA), attacked British army installations and government buildings. The British responded with the tough police called Black and Tans, because they wore black-and-tan uniforms. They were extremely cruel in dealing with the rebels and they were bitterly hated by the Irish people.

Finally, in 1921, Great Britainand the rebels agreed to a treaty that allowed southern Ireland to become a dominion of the British Commonwealth called the Irish Free State. Adominion is a self-governing country. Now, Ireland has two Parliaments, one for the Nationalists and another for the Unionists.

The Irish people were sharply divided over the treaty that created the Irish free state. One group wanted completely independence from Great Britain and union with Northern Ireland. The other group supported the treaty. In 1922, civilwar broke out But the fighting stopped after one year, and the two groups formed political parties

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