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Northern Ireland

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The Struggle for Two Polarized Cultures to Co-exist in Northern Ireland

The country of Northern Ireland was born in violence and that violence has persisted throughout the majority of its existence in the twentieth century. The roots of this conflict are complex and stem centuries before Northern Ireland came into official existence in 1921. The reasons remain at large. The conflict has been divided down many lines; ethnically between the British and the Irish, geographically, between the North and the South of Ireland, and religiously between Protestants and Catholics. Historically and even during contemporary times, it is a combination of religions and politics, however social and economical factors do arise as well. The key conflict in Northern Ireland, which impinges on all other conflicts to a certain extent, is the conflict between the Protestant and Roman Catholics. For the persons that resided in Northern Ireland, Protestants and Catholics alike, it did not matter whether they lived on the same land or that they all were essentially from the same place. What they identified with, was their different belief systems. Protestants and Catholics were so opposed to one another that inevitably they created two polarized communities within Northern Ireland. Religion had a special significance as it was used as a marker to distinguish and discriminate between sections of the community. In this essay I will focus on the causes for the longevity of this division from 1921 to 1972. In turn, I will also emphasize on how the concept of ‘identity’ has alienated both sides on Northern Ireland’s landscape. In 1921 Unionism succeeded in the inclusion of six of the nine counties of Ulster. Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim and Down comprised the new state of Northern Ireland. The new Northern Ireland six county administration was the largest area that could comfortably be held with a pro-Union majority. It was given its own government with devolved...