Fact Box: The Conflict in Northern Ireland

Ireland broke out of the United Kingdom (the UK) in the 1920s. However, Northern Ireland is still a part of the UK. The six northern counties of Ireland were kept within the union because the majority of the people who lived there were Protestants. In the Republic of Ireland, the majority were Catholics.

The conflict in Northern Ireland is basically about the following: Should Northern Ireland remain within the UK, or should it leave the union and be reunited with the rest of Ireland? The Protestants want to stay in the union. They have traditionally had the better jobs, brighter opportunities and better wages, and have controlled the political power in Northern Ireland. 

The Catholics of Northern Ireland have traditionally been poor, often unemployed, and have been kept away from all positions of power. The so-called “Troubles” started in the 1960s, when armed fighting and terrorism from both sides became daily events. More than 3,500 people have been killed in the conflict from the 1960s to the present.

The Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998 revealed that the people of Northern Ireland were tired of all the fighting and wanted to live in peace with each other. However, it has been very difficult to get the various armed groups on both sides to accept the agreement and hand in their weapons.

There Were Roses

Listen to the song on the Tracks 1 CD.

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Web resource

The Northern Ireland Assembly (official website)


The Northern Ireland conflict (BBC)


The Northern Ireland conflict (CAIN)


The Troubles (The Guardian)