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The Irish Question (Ирландский вопрос)

The Irish Question (Ирландский вопрос)

Moscow 1998

07.05.98

The Irish Question

Moscow

State Pedagogical University

Snigir Aleksei

The Plan:

1. The position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom

2. British policy towards Northern Ireland

3. Theories of political violence in the Northern Ireland conflict

I The Position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom

The inhabitants of Ireland are mainly Celtic by origin, and the majority

never accepted the Reformation. In 1801 a new law added Ireland to the

United Kingdom. By this time much of the land belonged to Protestant

English landlords, and the Act of Union followed the period in which

rebellions peasants were brutally suppressed. But in the six Northern

Counties the Protestants were not a dominant minority: they were the

majority of the population. Most of them were descendants of Scottish and

English settlers who had moved into Ireland several generations before.

They considered themselves to be Irish but remained as a distinct

community, and there was not much intermarriage. There had been conflicts

and battles between the two communities, still remembered along with their

heroes and martyrs.

In 1912, when the liberals were in power, with the support of the main

group of Irish MPs (for Ireland had seats in the UK parliament). The

House of Commons passed a Home Rule Bill, but the House of Lords delayed

it. It was bitterly opposed by the Protestant majority of the people in

the six northern counties and by the M Ps they had elected. They did not

want to be included in a self-governing Ireland dominated by Catholics.

Eventually, the island was partitioned. In 1922 the greater part became an

independent state, and (in 1949) a republic outside the Commonwealth. Its

laws, on divorce and other matters, reflect the influence of the Catholic

Church. The six northern counties remained within the United Kingdom, with

seats in Prime Minister and government responsible for internal affairs. In

the politics of Northern Ireland the main factor has always been the

hostility between Protestants and Catholics

Until 1972 the Northern Irish Parliament (called Stormont) always had a

Protestant majority. By 1960s Catholics produced serious riots. The

police were mainly Protestants. They used their guns. Several people were

killed. The UK Labour government of the time had sympathy with the

Catholics grievances. The Protestant parties regularly supported the

Conservatives, while some MPs elected for Catholic parties took little or

no part in the work of the Parliament.

In 1969 the UK Labour Government sent troops to Northern Ireland, with

others to help impartially to keep order. But to most Catholics UK troops

have become identified with the Union of Northern Ireland with the UK.

Many Catholics don’t like the idea of the division of the island, but

recognize that the union of the North with the Republic could only be

imposed against the wishes of the majority in the North, and would probably

lead to a civil war. Less moderate Catholics have some sympathy with their

own extremists, the Irish Republican Army [IRA], who are prepared to use

any means, including violence, in support of the demand to be united with

the Republic of Ireland.

In 1969-72 the UK governments, first Labour, then Conservative, tried to

persuade the Protestant politicians to agree to changes which might be

acceptable to the Catholics, but made little progress. In 1972 the UK

government decided that the independent regime could not solve its

problems, and put an end to it. Since then the internal administration has

been run under the responsibility of the UK cabinet. In political terms

this decision of Mr. Heath’s government was an act of self- sacrifice.

Until 1972 the Irish [Protestant] Unionist MPs had regularly supported the

Conservative in the UK Parliament, but since then they have become an

independent group not linked to any UK party. Most of them, like the

Northern Irish Catholic MPs, have taken little part in UK affair except

those involving Northern Ireland.

From 1972 onwards successive UK governments have tried to find a «

political solution» to the Northern Irish problems, that is, a solution

acceptable to most Catholics and most Protestants. Several devices have

been tried with little or no success. Protestant politicians are elected

on programs, which involve refusal to accept compromise.

Meanwhile, the IRA continues its terrorist campaign. It receives both moral

and financial support from some descendants of Irish people who emigrated

to the US. Although so many innocent victims have been killed, many of them

by chance or through mistakes, it does not seem likely that any different

British government policy would have succeed in preventing the violence

that goes on.

Northern Ireland’s economy, based partly on farming, party on the heavy

industries of Belfast, has brought its people to a standard of living well

above that of the Republic, but lower than Great Britain’s. With the

decline of shipbuilding there is no serious unemployment, and vast seems

have been spent by UK governments in attempts to improve the situation.

II British Policy towards Northern Ireland

The links between Northern Ireland and Britain were close and of long

standing, for Britain’s involvement with Ireland is dated from the 12th

century. Ireland had been ruled directly from Westminster since 1800 under

the Act of Union, and the Irish economy was intimately bound up with that

of the rest of the United Kingdom. Moreover, when Britain abandoned the

union after the First World War, it bestowed wide self- government on Only

part of Ireland, the twenty- six county Irish Free State. The remaining

six counties of Northern Ireland were given a regional parliament and

government with limited powers and remained an integral part of the United

Kingdom. But there was no political consensus to the nature of the state to

be established. Northern Ireland was riddled with ethnic and regional

divisions, and to crow all, in 1920s and 1930s its economy was hardly

healthy with its inefficient agriculture and ailing industries. In fact,

Britain was faced with a problem of establishing a regime, which would be

self- supporting and would survive manifold divisions. But Britain failed

to find adequate solution to this problem, and all its attempts brought to

a bloody end.

Britain determined both the boundaries and the form of government in the

1920 Coverment of Ireland Act. The controversial six counties included a

large Catholic minority, some one- third of the population within Northern

Ireland, including some predominantly Catholic areas on the borders with

the Irish Free State. The form of government was modelled on Westminster

and a subordinate regional government and parliament were given restricted

financial powers but almost unlimited powers over such vital matters of

community interest and potential conflict as education, local government,

law and order. The 1920 settlement gave the two- thirds Protestant and

Unionist majority a virtual free hand and ended in anarchy and the fall of

Stormont in 1972. From the beginning the British government was anxious

that the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland should accept the legitimacy

of the new creation and to that end Westminster did urge the government of

Northern Ireland to adopt a friendlier and more accommodating attitude

towards the minority, particularly in respect of law enforcement, local

government and education. Nevertheless, in the last analysis, it refused

to exercise its sovereignty to block such divisive measures as the

abolition of proportional representation in local government elections or

to counteract sectarian tendencies in education and law enforcement. The

reason that Westminster did not do so was that any firm stand would have

meant the resignation of the unionist government and, in view of its in

built majority, its immediate return to office. Such an eventuality would

have presented alternatives: a humiliating climb down or the resumption of

direct responsibility for the government of the six counties -- the very

thing that the 1920 government of Ireland act had been designed to avoid.

As far as Westminster was concerned, minority rights in Northern Ireland

had to be subordinate to the broader interests of the United Kingdom and

British Empire.

III Theories of Political Violence in the Northern Ireland Conflict.

There have been various attempts to sympathize the range of theories which

have been put forward to explain the Northern Ireland conflict and to

relate these two practical remedies and solutions to the problem. The

diversity of the theories which have been put forward have necessarily

limited attempts to test them concisely using empirical data. For example,

aside from the theories such as religion and class which have been most

widely canvassed, explanations as diverse as Freudian social psychology and

caste have been put forward. Clearly it is impossible to attempt to test

all these theories using survey data, and for the purposes of this

analysis, only the major theories are examined. There is a fundamental

dichotomy in these theories between those, which are economic in nature and

non-economic. Each has particular implications for the future and for the

possibility of solving the conflict. From the economic interpretation it

logically follows that the conflict is essentially bargainable, and that a

change in socioeconomic conditions will after the intensity of the

conflict. Better living conditions, more jobs and material affluence will

make people less interested in an atomistic conflict centering on religion.

By contrast, most non-economic theories imply that it is a non-

bargainable, zero- sum conflict: the gains of one side will always be

proportional to the losses of the other. These theories are summarized in

the words: « the problem is that there is no solution». The Irish,

according to popular account are an intensely historically minded people.

Present day problems they explain by what seems to others an unnecessary

long and involved recital of event so distant as to shade into the gloom of

prehistory. History indeed lies at the basis as to shade into propagandist

issue of contemporary Ireland: one nation or to? To many radicals, this

issue is already an archaism in a world increasingly dominated by

transnational capitalism. They prefer to substitute an analysis of «

divided class» for an outdated propagandist device adopted to split the

workers. The idea of « two nations» occupying the same territory has a

long provenance throughout the world.

Catholics tend to have lower status jobs than Protestants but once we take

differences in family backgrounds and education into account the

disadvantage disappears. There is no evidence of occupational

discrimination. In terms of the financial returns of work, Catholics

receive a lower wage than Protestants, and this persists even after family

background, education and occupation are held constant. There are a

variety of explanations, which could account for this pattern, none of

which, unfortunately, can be tested by the data to hand. Protestants tend

to predominate in well paid, capital intensive industries, such as

engineering and shipbuilding, while Catholics are concentrated in more

marginal and competitive industries, such as building and contrasting, with

generally lower wage rates. Consequently, it is possible for a Protestant

to receive a high wage for performing the same task as a Catholic working

in another industry. Since most of these capital-intensive industries are

more extensively unionized than their counter parts, it could be argued

that Protestant bargaining power, and hence wage levels, are greater than

similar non-unionized Catholic workers. Finally, these differences in

incomes could be interpreted as the direct result of religious

discrimination against Catholics, with Catholics simply being paid less

than Protestants in the same jobs.

There is, therefore, not much of an economic basis for the Ulster

conflict—actual differences between the two communities can be explained by

family background and inherited privilege. There remains, however, the

possibility that it is less the objective economic differences that cause

the conflict than individual subjective perceptions of those differences.

It is often argued that economic deprivation is a major cause of violence,

rioting with Catholics feeling economically deprived compared to

Protestants, becoming frustrated, and venting their frustration through

aggression: much of the British government’s policy for Northern Ireland

has focused on alleviating the economic deprivation of the Catholic

minority. But in fact, socioeconomic considerations have little to do with

rioting either for the population as a whole, or among Catholics and

Protestants considered separately. The combined effect of all

socioeconomic variables, is a negligible. Only one of the five

socioeconomic variables has a statistically significant effect.

Unemployment has no significant effect, in spite of the prominent role it

plays in official thinking.

On this evidence, it seems unlikely that economic changes will reduce

conflict in Northern Ireland. It is, however, possible that economic

improvements for the Catholic community would effect the climate of opinion

among Catholics as a whole, and hence reduce conflict.

Religion by itself does not have much to do with rioting. Catholics, in

particular, are not significantly more likely than Protestants to riot.

The recent troubles may have been presaged by Catholic civil rights

activity in 1968 and 1969, which led to violence, but in 1973 the violence

had escalated and spread to both communities more or less equally. Nor do

religious beliefs have any significant effect; the devout are neither more

nor less likely to riot then their less devout compatriots. In this, as in

other ways, the conflict is not one of religious belief.

Finally, political views about the origins of the conflict are important

for Catholics but not as much for Protestants. Let us examine Catholics,

beginning with the comparison of two groups: those who think Catholics are

entirely to blame for the troubles and those who think no blame at all

attaches to Catholics. The first group is some 18 percent less likely to

riot than is the second group. So for Catholics, rioting seems to have

strong instrumental overtones in that those who have well defined views

that attribute blame to Protestants are much more likely to riot. Their

riots, like many block riots in the United States, are in part a means of

seeking address for grievances. But for Protestants the interpretation

placed on the conflict is much less important. Those who think Protestants

themselves are entirely to blame are only 9 percent less likely to riot

then are those who think Catholics are entirely to blame. Protestant

rioting thus seems to be more reactive in the sense that its stems not so

much from a coherent view about their aims, or their adversaries’ aims, or

the nature of the conflict, as it does from other sources, notably reaction

to Catholic violence.

Inhabitant житель

Majority большинство

Rebellion восстание

Peasant крестьянин

Suppress запрещать, подавлять

Minority меньшинство

Descendant потомок

Martyr мученик

Partition расчленять

Internal внутренний

Hostility враждебность

Riot бунт ,беспорядки

Grievance жалоба , обида

Impartially беспристрастно

Regime режим

Campaign кампания

Intimate объявлять , хорошо знакомый

Bound граничить

Bestow давать, дарить, помещать

Riddled изрешеченный

Controversial спорный

Subordinate подчиненный

Urge убеждать, побуждение

Enforcement давление, принудительный

Sovereignty суверенитет, Верховная власть

Abolition отмена, уничтожение

Counteract sectarian tendencies нейтрализовать сектантские наклонности

Resignation смирение, отставка

Eventuality возможный случай

Humiliating унизительный

Resumption возобновление

Diversity различие, разнообразие

Empirical эмпирический

Canvass обсуждать, собирать(голоса)

Diverse разный ,иной

Caste каста

Survey изучаемый, рассматриваемый

Dichotomy деление класса на 2 противопоставляемых

подкласса,

Bargainable выгодный

Gloom мрак , уныние

Contemporary современный

Device устройство, средство, план, девиз

Wage зарплата

Hence с этих пор, следовательно

Income доход

Inherited наследованный

Deprived лишенный

Frustration расстройство(планов), крушение(надежд)

Alleviating смягчающий, облегчающий

Negligible незначительный

Recent новый, свежий, современный

Presaged предсказанный

Devout искренний, набожный

Compatriots соотечественник

Coherent понятный, последовательность

Adversary противник, враг

The List of Books:

1. Richard Kearney. The Irish Mind. Exploring Intellectual Traditions.

Dublin 1985

2. Harold Orel. Irish History and Culture. Aspects of a people’s heritage.

Dublin 1979

3. Jonah Alexander, Alan O’Day. Ireland’s Terrorist Dilemma. Dordrecht

1986

4. T.M. Devine, David Dickson. Ireland and Scotland .Edinburgh 1983

5. Peter Bromhead. Life in Modern Britain .Longman Group UK Limited, 1992



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