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Troubles, the

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


The violence in Northern Ireland which began in 1968. Ever since the division of Ireland in 1921 into a mainly Protestant North and a Catholic Irish Free State (which became the Republic of Ireland in 1949), the Protestants in the North had been determined to maintain their ascendancy. They did this by discriminating in houses and jobs in favour of Protestants and by gerrymandering local boundaries, which gave Protestants a majority in the local government of Londonderry, a predominantly Catholic area. In 1967 Catholic nationalist and republican leaders formed the Northern Irish civil rights association (NICRA), inspired by the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT in the US, to campaign against discrimination. People's Democracy was formed in October 1968 by students at the Queen's University, Belfast, as a radical, socialist offshoot of NICRA. It became the principal initiator of violence in the North, seeking revolution and confrontation as it marched into Protestant areas and helped to destroy the moderate centre in Ulster politics. People's Democracy was at the centre of nearly every violent confrontation between civil rights demonstrators and the unionists, backed up by the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary). On 4 January 1969 there was a civil rights march (based on Martin Luther king's selma freedom march in 1965) from Belfast to Londonderry, organized by People's Democracy. It was attacked ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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