Britain's Role in Northern Ireland since the1960s. A Critical Study

Term Paper, 2000

20 Pages, Grade: 11

Free online reading

Table of Contents

1.1 Introduction

2.1 From the Beginning of the "Troubles" to Direct Rule
2.2 Direct Rule
2.3 The Sunningdale Agreement (1974)

3.1 Ulsterization
3.2 The British Prison Policy - Reasons for the Hunger Strikes?
3.3 British Methods how to Deal with the Struggle

4.1 The Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985)
4.2 1997 - Ways to Permanent Peace?
4.3 1998 - The Good Friday Agreement

5.1 Britain's Role in Northern Ireland - Occupier or Liberator?

6 Appendix
6.1 Bibliograph
6.2 Colloquium

1.1 Introduction

Thinking of Northern Ireland, people are often reminded of a conflict between Catholics and Protestants. This conflict has its roots in the 12th century but is nowadays more than ever present. In order to understand the struggle people have to know that Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, Great Britain is directly involved in the conflict, especially when the conflict escalated again in the late 1960s.

Because of that facts questions like: `How important is the British role in Northern Ireland?' `What is their position in the conflict?' `What is the British Northern Ireland policy like?' or `What attempts were made by Britain to end the conflict?' arise.

In the following research paper, I try to give answers to those questions. Nevertheless, nobody will be able to understand the British role in Northern Ireland if not reactions and consequences for the Northern Irish population are presented. Therefore, I will try to interpret those cases in which Britain directly interferes into Northern Irish society and political affairs. The research paper itself consists of three main points, which will explain Britain's role in Northern Ireland since the 1960s. At first, my focus is on the beginning of direct rule in Northern Ireland and the way it could be introduced for more than 25 years there. Then I concentrate on the British Northern Ireland policy during the 1970s and 1980s. Especially the security policy is important for my study. At last, I put emphasis on British attempts to find a solution for permanent peace in Ulster. I decided to deal with these three main points in order to point out the changes and developments in Britain's role in Northern Ireland. In my research paper, I do not concentrate on the time from 1960 - 1968 because in those days Northern Ireland was an autonomic province in Great Britain. The British government was only indirectly involved into Northern Irish affairs. Therefore, these years have only little importance in my research paper.

2.1 From the Beginning of the Troubles to Direct Rule

For many Northern Irish people the 5th of October 1968 is a symbol for the beginning of the Troubles in the province. On this day the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) dissolved a Catholic civil rights march by using violence. Although Britain was not involved into this incident it was the beginning of British direct interference. As a result of it, in August 1969 British troops were sent to Northern Ireland because tensions between Protestants and Catholics were growing. At first, the British were seen as liberators by the Catholic community but it only needed little time that the British army showed its real face. Catholics saw the British army as a "foreign power" that defending "British interests"1 in Ulster because the army protected the Stormont parliament as well as the Protestant domination in Northern Ireland. For that reason Britain lost Irish confidence and old hate came into existence again. The British army presence was a symbol of this old hatred. However, a British retreat from Northern Ireland would have meant the beginning of a civil war. Therefore, Britain was in a fix.

In 1970 the Conservative Party won the general elections in Great Britain. But soon it became clear that the new government would not change the Northern Ireland policy. Britain still saw the chance for peace in Ulster in reconciling both communities.2 They also continued in forcing the Stormont government to pass the prepared reforms, otherwise Westminster would impose direct rule. The army got the feeling by the new government to be privileged because in 1971 the British government refused to start an investigation because of the killing of two Catholics by the army in Northern Ireland. The army itself had two tasks in Northern Ireland. On the one hand, they had to patrol but on the other hand, their task in those days was the search of arms because of growing violence. The British soldiers however, only searched in Catholic areas. For this it seemed that the army worked one-sided and showed support for the protestant community. The result was a stronger catholic support for their paramilitary groups. It seemed that those persons were the only institution in Ulster who really stood up for the rights of the Catholics. But everybody knew their policy was terror and violence.

In August 1971, the British army began an internment policy in Northern Ireland in order to prevent civil disorder, but again only Catholics were interned. Internment was a psychological torture in which suspected IRA (Irish Republican Army) terrorists were put into prison without charge. In 1971, 372 Catholics were victims of this new policy. The result was an increase of IRA violence and civil disobedience of many Catholics. Great Britain justified their policy because of the special situation in Northern Ireland. The European Convention of Human Rights says that in spite of the special situation such a policy is inhuman3. So, Britain offended against international law. Therefore, the British Prime Minister (PM) , Heath, offered talks between himself, the Irish PM and the Northern Irish PM to improve the situation in Northern Ireland, but except a better mutual understanding and a joint condemnation of violence, nothing else was achieved. The Northern Irish Catholics stopped all talks with Great Britain as long as internment continued. So, Great Britain saw herself in a situation of isolation because everything they did would be opposed by the catholic community. In order to work against the continuing violence Britain closed the North and South Irish border but only with little success. One consequence of the ongoing internment policy were civil rights marches of the catholic community to show their solidarity with the prisoners.

The 30th of January 1972 marks a date, which has become known in the public as "Bloody Sunday". On this date, British paratroopers crashed together with a catholic civil-rights march in Londonderry. Although the march had been peaceful, the British classified the march as illegal. The fight took place in the Bogside, a Catholic quarter in Londonderry which did not acknowledge British authorities. At the end of the day thirteen civilians were killed by the paratroopers. Amnesty International blamed the British government for `cruel and inhumane treatment.'4 Therefore, many people called the intervention of the army a new form of British colonialism. For Britain, the situation became even worse because now the world recognised what was going on in Northern Ireland. Now it was no crisis any more, for many there was a war going on in Northern Ireland. In addition, Britain got the image that it would always use violence if it crashed together with demonstrators.

The paradox is that the British army went into the Bogside although they had been warned by the Northern Irish PM Faulkner not to do so. So, the question comes into existence why the army paid no attention to that information. Perhaps they underestimated the situation at that time. However, the result shows a dramatic change of the situation in Northern Ireland. London forced the Northern Irish PM Faulkner to give Catholics more rights to keep the province quiet. That indicates British arrogance because Faulkner had to bear the consequence for faults British did. Anyway, in reality the British government followed a completely different target. Their wish was the transmission of control of the security forces. This step was significant for the new policy Britain now followed because the British government increasingly hold the opinion that direct control of security was more effective than sharing it. Because of these developments, PM Faulkner and the Northern Irish government resigned. Therefore, Westminster suspended the Stormont parliament and introduced temporary direct rule. Temporary meant that direct rule was introduced for a certain period of time but not forever. A second reason for introducing direct administration was ongoing insecurity, instability and stagnation. Faulkner's successor became William Whitelaw, a high conservative politician from London. Although he made great efforts to get the confidence of both religious communities, only few improvements were made. The result was growing violence as well as bigger support for extremist groups. But Britain got a second problem. Because of direct rule, Protestants began to build up ultra loyalist and even paramilitary groups. So, the British step to introduce direct administration caused a further deterioration of the existing structures. Britain saw the only chance to remain stability in Ulster by sending more troops.

2.2 Direct Rule

What did direct rule mean for the Northern Irish population? What was the effect on British image and their role? Mainly direct rule is connected with special legislation especially in security questions. In general, this had consequences for the Catholics in Ulster because in most cases this legislation was carried out against them. This led to stronger opposition against the British and their presence in Ulster.

Special legislation had many faces in Northern Ireland but a development in this policy is easily recognizable. It came into existence in 1973 after Britain had analysed the roots of the conflict. Britain saw herself forced to act because there were no clear improvements of the situation. At first Britain passed the Emergency Provisions Act (E.P.A.). It gave many new rights to the security forces in Northern Ireland like holding a suspect for 72 hours detained. But the main change was the permission of non-jury courts. The British government wanted to avoid intimidation of jurors so that fair convictions could be attained. Non-jury courts were used in trials of "terrorist offences"5. This act should have existed only for a certain time and Should have been reviewed yearly by the British parliament but nobody ever questioned the E.P.A. Unfair trials against suspected terrorists were on the agenda because confessions were often made under physical pressure and often the defendant was convicted before he entered the trial. For that reason Britain got the image of an undemocratic occupier in the catholic community. Additionally Britain seemed to rule over Northern Ireland from above.

The failure of the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974 caused an expansion of the E.P.A. to the British mainland. Thus, Britain had to modify the old act. The new act was called Prevention of Terrorism Act (P.T.A.). This act was unique in Western Europe because of its undemocratic elements and showed the measures Britain used to manage the crisis. The changes were widened powers for the RUC and the British army, but again both forces carried out the act mainly against Catholics. The P.T.A. legalized internal exile without special trial and the right to hold persons for seven days in prison. Afterwards, these persons often were sent back to their province without knowing why. These two short statements out of the act show that Britain was preparing for a psychological warfare because the British army began doing jobs intelligence services do. House searching for example became a favourable method in the British army to get intelligence.

All these new methods and rights caused new problems because most soldiers in Northern Ireland were educated to fight against a real opponent. The opponents in Ulster were mainly civilians (mostly Catholics). Therefore, the army saw herself in a fundamental new situation because the enemy had to be defeated without the use of violence. Crashes with Catholics were inevitable because the army got increasingly the image of working one-sided and therefore they were always opposed by Catholics.

2.3 The Sunningdale Agreement (1974)

Since 1972, Northern Ireland was ruled directly by the British government. With a new power-sharing agreement, Great Britain and Ireland tried to re-establish stability and peace in Northern Ireland. In addition, Britain wanted to start a process in Northern Ireland that at the end would make direct rule superfluous. Hope for peace brought the new-formed "Council of Ireland" in which Great Britain and Ireland got the chance for co-operation. But violent protest by Unionists and disputes over power-sharing led to a resumption of direct rule. Because of the failure of this agreement, Great Britain passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (P.T.A.), which gave special rights to security forces in Northern Ireland. On account of this development, Britain had no other chance than to rule Northern Ireland by force because they recognized that every new peace-effort would crush together with protestant or catholic protest. However, Catholics in Northern Ireland increasingly saw Britain as an occupation force. The new policy was seen as a symbol of imperialism. Therefore, British forces were resisted by the Catholic community. This development was oil in the flames of IRA propaganda. The Protestants in Northern Ireland, however, were the winners of this course of action. They were able to feel secure because in most cases special legislation was used against Catholics. For many years, Britain, however, gave the chance away for a new beginning of peace talks because such a policy made negotiations impossible.

3.1 Ulsterization

In 1977, the British government developed a new policy called Ulsterization. They had the time to do so because of the catholic Peace People movement. The Peace People movement was actually formed to condemn violence of the British army, but doubts came into existence because of the harsh criticism of the organisation on the IRA and other catholic paramilitary groups. Some Catholics supposed that the British government and intelligence service supported the Peace People. For this reason the behaviour of the movement becomes quiet obvious. Many Catholics hold now the opinion that injustice through British occupation made peace unattainable. The second effect was huge dissociating of Catholics from such groups or movements.

The consequence was Ulsterization. It gave the RUC and the UDR the right to carry out activities the British army did. The strategy was to undermine the national liberation struggle by this. Britain hoped to improve their international image if the army was not directly involved into all activities.

Ulsterization also introduced the same legal code in Northern Ireland. That meant courts never had to differentiate between the motives of the criminals. So, Britain began to generalize crime in Northern Ireland.

Additionally it contained the British attitude about the IRA. London sticked to this opinion until 1994. It said: [...] "the IRA is a bunch of common criminals, not a revolutionary guerrilla organization."6 This made negotiations between Britain and the IRA impossible because the British government did not accept to negotiate with outlaws. Therefore, Britain always had the problem to find wide spread approval for their peace proposals because the IRA as integrating role for Catholics in Ulster resisted all attempts Britain made.

3.2 The British Prison Policy - Reason for the Hunger Strikes?

Until 1976, Britain classified republican prisoners in Northern Ireland as prisoners of war. Therefore, these prisoners had special privileges like wearing own clothes or abstain from penal labour. But this aspect would mean that a war was taking place in Northern Ireland. This was never admitted by the British government and in order not to be forced to do so in future, they simply passed a law which said that from the 1st of March 1976 every new republican prisoner had to be treated as a common criminal. This meant they were losing their privileges. By this Britain wanted to make clear that there was no war taking place in Northern Ireland. In addition, it was part of a new policy. Its aim was to smash the national liberation struggle by getting the members behind bars.

At once opposition against the new treatment began. Prisoners showed their protest by refusing to wear special clothes. These people were called the "Blanket Men". Their protest lasted until October 1980 when prisoners began a hunger strike. They wanted to force Britain to agree to their five demands7. After 56 days, the strike ended because the prisoners thought the British government agreed on their demands. In reality, Britain denied having ever made any concession. For this the prisoners became "victims of British duplicity"8. As direct response to such a faithless behaviour, a second hunger strike began in the prisons. This time 10 prisoners died. The result was international attention towards the national liberation struggle in Northern Ireland as well as mass protesting inside Northern Ireland. The consequence was that Britain secretly accepted the five demands except the 50 percent remission. Probably the British government kept this decision secret because they did not want to lose sight in the public. For them this incident was a defeat. They had to acknowledge that their power in Northern Ireland was not absolute and that unfair laws would always crush with public protest.

3.3 British Methods how to Deal with the Struggle

Because of direct rule, violence was present everywhere in Northern Ireland. Therefore, Britain started several attempts to find a way to deal best with the struggle. The way had to be effective and drastic so that it was able to get violence under control. But, already after a short period of time Britain got the image of an occupier or an imperialist power because their measures meant often a deep cut in the civil or democratic rights of the Northern Irish people. Additionally, it seemed that the army carried out the laws one-sided because in most cases these laws were used against the catholic minority but not against protestant extremists. Forms of British measures in Northern Ireland:

- Psychological war-fare

Britain charged IRA terrorists for attacks British special agents did (e.g. "Birmingham Six" or "Guildford Four"9 ).

Prisoners were held in prison under dubious evidences.

- Censorship:

Censorship led to a situation of ignorance in the British public. Until 1985, more than fifty TV programmes in Northern Ireland had been cancelled, censored, withdrawn or delayed.10 For that reason the public had no chance to create their own opinion about Northern Ireland and opposition was kept quiet.

- Supergrasses (1982)

Supergrasses were uncorroborated collaborators of terrorists. They were given the offer to get evidence for giving names of alleged terrorists. Later in the trial, these persons were used against the defendants. The effect was demoralization in the paramilitary groups. Within six years, the British government had to admit that supergrasses failed because in most cases the accusation had to dropped because of perjury of the supergrasses. Therefore a new court law for Northern Ireland was passed. Courts got the right to accuse persons on doubts and for this unfair trials were still possible.

Concluding it can be said that all these methods show an unfair and undemocratic policy because the British government tried to keep opponents and minorities quiet by intimidating them. But to remain objective people have to know that such a special situation did not offer much space for acting. Britain saw herself forced to rule over Northern Ireland in a very strict way so that uncontrolled violence could be prevented. But, such a policy always has its winners and losers. The winners want remain of the policy; the losers want to get rid of such a system. For this reason, the British government should have been more sensitive and objective before they passed a law, because many of their laws affected a loss of confidence especially in the catholic community.

4.1 The Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985)

The Prime ministers of Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland met in 1985 to sign an agreement over Northern Ireland. It came into existence because of 15 months of secret talks. This fact is a symbol for the explosive potential of the talks and shows the seriousness of both countries to attain a solution.

Great Britain tried to involve Ireland into the Northern Irish conflict in order to make an end to the violence. For Mrs. Thatcher this possibility was "the greatest price"11 of the agreement because her government has become sick of the continuing violence in the province. In a new formed conference Ireland got opportunity to make proposals concerning Northern Ireland. By this, a more objective policy should have come into existence because negotiations would lead to a better understanding among each other and people would get to know their real differences. Nevertheless, legislative power remained in London. The point that made the agreement so attackable was Britain's concession to the possibility of a united Ireland. The agreement said that both countries, Great Britain and Ireland, would put forward legislation to achieve an united Ireland if in Northern Ireland a majority demands it. The consequence of this agreement was a great demonstration of the split opinions in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland how to solve the Northern Irish conflict. Unionists accused Mrs. Thatcher of treachery for negotiating with a Government that "not only claims our territory but harbours the murderers of our people."12 They feared a British retreat from Northern Ireland and that meant an end of British protection.

That reality was looking different shows the argumentation of the British government. First, the change in Irish nationalism (they withdrew from their policy of British pull-out from Northern Ireland) made the historic concession possible. However, Mrs. Thatcher had to fight against internal opposition, too. Ian Grow for example, Minister of State at the Treasury resigned because of the agreement. Probably the concession of a possible united Ireland and the sharing of power with a government, that only some years before was seen as an enemy, was a thorn in the eyes of some politicians in England and Great Britain. The fact that Britain began to start negotiations with Ireland without informing or involving Northern Irish officials shows very clearly how the British understood their role in the Northern Irish conflict. They felt like a superior power and saw themselves forced to start peace efforts alone. The only right of the Northern Irish population was to accept the agreement but to adjust it on their wishes was impossible because of direct rule. For this from the beginning the agreement was doomed to fail and led to a worsening of the relationship between the British government and Northern Irish Protestants.

4.2 1997 - Ways to Permanent Peace?

In December 1997 Tony Blair, PM of Great Britain met with Gerry Adams, the leader of the radical Irish party Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA and fights for a British pull-out from Ulster. It was the first meeting between a British PM and a Sinn Fein official since 1922 and for many people it only had a symbolic meaning. Its result was that the British government acknowledged Sinn Fein as a legal party in Northern Ireland. This shows Britain really wants permanent peace in Northern Ireland and takes risks to achieve it. After the talks, Tony Blair however made clear that Britain would not give up complete power in Northern Ireland if a peace settlement was reached. He proved this with his estimation that "a reunited will not be achieved in his lifetime."13

4.3 1998 - The Good Friday Agreement

On The 10th of April 1998, Northern Ireland's political leaders signed a historic agreement for Northern Ireland. For the first time an agreement came into existence that was supported by all Northern Irish parties. This made a success in the referendum possible and could start a new era in Northern Ireland. For this Tony Blair supported the aim to involve Gerry Adams into the talks although he was harsh criticized by his political opponents as well as by the public.

The last days before the agreement was signed were the most critical days of the talks. For this Tony Blair left London at once heading for Stormont, where the talks took place. Tony Blair said: "The hand of history is on our shoulders. [... Now there is ...] the chance to live in peace, the chance to raise children out of the shadows of fear."14 For Blair this represented the most important wish of the Northern Irish public. He as a great integrating role for Northern Irish Protestants saw himself forced to go to Stormont so that a failure of the talks would become impossible. Nevertheless, for every participant of the talks as well as for Tony Blair or Bertie Ahern, PM of the Republic of Ireland, it was clear that the agreement would not bring peace at once. Walls in the heads of Catholics and Protestants still remained. Many paramilitary and extremist groups were opposing the agreement. Especially extremist loyalists hold the opinion that nationalists were given too many rights. That these opinions still existed was among other things also the fault of the British. They supported for more than 25 years Protestant supremacy. This agreement signifies now a big change in the British policy. The Labour government began to decentralize power. Therefore, it was possible to give Northern Ireland the opportunity to get a new legislation (Northern Ireland Assembly) but this time the parliament is to have a fair proportion system. The Republic of Ireland gets for the first time the opportunity for real involvement into affairs in Northern Ireland because of the North- South Ministerial Council. A "British-Irish Council" is to come into existence in which representatives from the regional parliaments in the United Kingdom meet with delegates of the British and Irish government.

These main points of the agreement show that Britain has given up direct rule in Northern Ireland and offered Northern Irish people the chance to be governed by an own free voted parliament. This has the effect that Northern Ireland is not governed from above but from the will of the majority. So, Britain cannot been blamed any longer for unfair laws or for an undemocratic policy because Northern Ireland is now responsible for their own policy. Thus, peace becomes more and more realistic because direct British involvement always has been a reason for tensions or hate between the communities. However, Britain did not give up to pay attention to happenings in Northern Ireland and meanwhile direct rule is introduced again. The problem is the disarmament of the paramilitary groups. The IRA gives no sign that they have any interest in handing out their weapons. To force the IRA to react Britain threatened with resumption of direct rule. The threat became true in February 2000 because the IRA did not make any real change in their policy. The further development now is not clear. The agreement is in its biggest crisis ever and the longer the IRA waits with disarmament the more doubts come into existence whether the present peace-agreement could last for long. So, at the end, Britain could come again into the situation that makes direct rule of all authorities and institutions inevitable, and then Britain is again in the role as occupier and aggressor. The vicious circle would start anew and the end would be open.

5.1 Britain's Role in Northern Ireland - Occupier or Liberator?

If I consider the whole period of British interference into the Northern Irish struggle, I must admit that Britain is neither an occupier nor a liberator.

Britain began to interfere into the Northern Ireland struggle because they saw themselves forced to react on the growing violence. The sending of British troops in 1969 was seen by Catholics as liberation from an unfair system but happiness turned very fast into open protest. British forces were seen as occupiers because they protected the old system in Northern Ireland. Therefore, civil rights marches were very often on the agenda in the early 1970s. Finally, the "Bloody Sunday" in 1972 made clear that British reinforcement caused a worsening of the situation in Northern Ireland. Britain got the image as a foreign power and many people spoke of a new form of British imperialism in Northern Ireland. But the development of the situation since the British reinforcement made a withdraw of British troops from Ireland impossible. Protestants relied on the British troops because as long as the army stayed in Britain Protestants could feel protected, for Catholics however, the British army became a symbol of old hatred. The second point, which made a withdrawal impossible, was the possibility of an escalation of the conflict. British politicians feared a civil war in Northern Ireland. For this, Britain had no other chance than to stay in Northern Ireland. Ongoing insecurity, instability and stagnation in Northern Ireland however made serious politics impossible. For that reason Britain installed direct rule in 1972. Britain showed very clearly that they gave up hope that the Stormont parliament would handle the situation. But did Britain handle the situation? In my opinion, the only advantage of the British government was that because of direct rule parliamentary opposition did not exist any more in Northern Ireland. Therefore, Britain was able to cut civil rights. Probably, they thought that security and stability could be achieved if they keep opposition quiet by intimidating them. But they have forgotten that such a policy causes a great loss of confidence and this makes peace talks impossible.

Nonetheless, actually Britain wanted to get rid of direct rule as fast as possible. They saw a way to replace it by cooperation. Their aim was to involve Ireland into Northern Irish affairs (Sunningdale Agreement, 1974). But Britain did not recognize that any cooperation with Ireland would lead to mass protesting of Protestants. So, Britain had to feel that although Northern Irish Protestants are British citizens they are not compelled loyal to everything the British government does. This course of action made the British government to develop a new policy for Northern Ireland because they had to accept that direct rule would exist for many years. But, Britain did not draw conclusions from the experiences from the first years of interference. Again, they passed severe acts, which confined Northern Irish people in their civil rights. The British government justified these laws because the threat of paramilitary groups could lead to an escalation of the conflict. The effect was that Britain more and more got the image that they rule over Northern Ireland subjective and undemocratic because laws were in most cases carried out against Catholics. In general, the British army was the executive force in Northern Ireland. Catholics however, did not accept that they were suppressed by a majority. Therefore, civil rights organizations were founded. These groups used the international press to put attention on the struggle in Northern Ireland. So, Britain had to change their policy. At first, they began a decentralization process in Northern Ireland. That way they tried to improve their international image. But that was no solution for the real problem. For that reason Britain began in the mid80s to start a kind of peace policy because they acknowledged a change in Irish nationalism. At first they negotiated with Ireland to find a solution for the Northern Irish conflict. Therefore, Loyalists felt betrayed by Britain but the British government did not care for this accusation. Although this attempt failed, Britain remained to find ways for peace. In the early 1990s, Britain showed that they really want peace for Northern Ireland. Their offer of multi-party talks with the aim to reinstall a legislation in Northern Ireland was without conditions and shows Britain has changed their policy. These talks failed but Britain did not pass as a result of it severer laws. No, they even began in the mid90s to start negotiations with former enemies (Sinn Fein). The result everybody knows is the `Good Friday Agreement'. Britain's role in this agreement was that they supported the opinion that all parties must be integrated in the talks. Therefore, the talks were successful and Britain proved that they give up power in Northern Ireland if peace becomes realistic.

If I take now a final look on the whole development of the conflict concerning Great Britain I can say that they turned form an one-sided occupier and subjective power to a more neutral, flexible observer of the conflict. Nevertheless, Britain still seems to feel irreplaceable in Northern Ireland. This shows the current development in Northern Ireland. But finally, I can say that the change of Britain's policy led to a better understanding between both religious communities because Britain began to take risks to make peace possible. Now the people in Northern Ireland are forced to make peace come true because Britain has given up most of her rights in Northern Ireland. But self-governing is a very hard process for the Northern Irish people because in the mean time a generation grew up who only got to know British army presence. Therefore, Britain is still a great integrating role in Northern Ireland. However, they are not allowed to feel every time forced to threat with direct rule if the peace process is under pressure because that way Northern Ireland will never learn to govern herself alone. In my opinion, Britain is to do the opposite. They should offer negotiations or probable solutions if the peace process is under pressure because this way people in Northern Ireland will begin to trust in the new legislation and government. This is the new role of Britain in Northern Ireland.

6 Appendix

6.1 Bibliography

- Books

Deutsch, Richard/Magowan Vivien: Northern Ireland 1968-73: A Chronology of Events, Volume 1 1968-71, Belfast 1973

Deutsch, Richard/Magowan Vivien: Northern Ireland 1968-73: A Chronology of Events, Volume 2 1972-73, Belfast 1974

Harenberg, Bodo (ed.): Chronik des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed.13, Dortmund 1993

Hermle, Reinhard: Der Konflikt in Nordirland: Ursachen, Ausbruch und Entwicklung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Zeitraums 1963-1972, München, Mainz 1979.

Irwin, John L.: Modern Britain: An introduction, London, New York ³1994.

Krämer, Georg: Mord & Terror - Britischer Imperialismus: Nordirland, Frankfurt am Main 1972.

Paradise, Jean: Collier's Year Book 1971: yearbook covering the year 1970, n.p. 1971 Paradise, Jean: Collier's Year Book 1972: yearbook covering the year 1971, n.p. 1972 Paradise, Jean: Collier's Year Book 1973: yearbook covering the year 1972, n.p. 1973

World & Press: Northern Ireland - Background to the "Troubles" and the conflict, Bremen n.d.

- Articles

A glimmer of hope: Blair and Adams are taking risks for peace, in The Guardian (12. 12. 1997)

Kirby, Peddar: Extradition puts bitter taste in Dublin's mouth, in The Christian Science Monitor (23. 11. 1987)

McKittrick, David: Agreement aimed to protect Ulster's link with Britain, in The Independent (15. 11. 1989)

Nach 30 Jahren einig: Frieden für Nordirland, in Bersenbrücker Kreisblatt (11. 04. 1998)

Thatcher aims for peace in historic deal, in The Times (16. 11. 1985)

The day Londonderry exploded, in The Guardian (10. 08. 1984)

The playground memories that turned sour, in The Times (12. 08. 1989)

Tranquil backwater where hate simmered, in The Independent (05. 10. 1993)

White, Barry/Underhill, William: A Clean Shot at Peace, in Newsweek (20. 04. 1998)

- Internet

`A brief history of Northern Ireland', URL:

`Beyond the Pale', URL:

`Chapter Two: The British Occupation of Northern Ireland!, URL:

`Northern Ireland Special Report', URL: srv/inatl/longterm/nireland/overview.htm

`The Anglo-Irish Agreement and Beyond', URL:

`The United Kingdom', URL:

6.2 Colloquium

Britain's Role in Northern Ireland since the 1960s A Critical Study

A short survey on important dates

- October 1968

beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (riots, civil rights marches etc.)

- September 1969

beginning of British rearmament in Northern Ireland

- August 1971

Internment Policy

- 30th January 1972

Bloody Sunday _ institution of direct rule

- 1973

Emergency Provisions Act (E.P.A.)

- 1974

Sunningdale Agreement

- 1974

Prevention of Terrorism Act (P.T.A.)

- 1977


- October 1980

First hunger strike of republican prisoners in Northern Irish prisons

- December 1980

Second hunger strike of republican prisoners in Northern Irish prisons

- 1985


- early 1990s - 1992

Britain begins to launch multi-party talks with the goal of forging a new Northern Irish assembly and new relations between Northern Ireland and the Rep. of Ireland

- 5th December 1993

Downing-Street-Declaration _ a deal which invites Sinn Fein and Democratic loyalist parties to join the talks on the future of Northern Ireland if both groups renounce violence

- 12th April 1998

Good Friday Agreement

Peace efforts

1974: Sunningdale Agreement

- power sharing agreement between Great Britain and Ireland
- "Council of Ireland": co-operation committee between Great Britain and Ireland
- aim: beginning of a process which at the end would make direct rule superfluous

1985: Anglo-Irish-Agreement

- establishing of a British and Irish minister conference to discuss political, security and legal matters affecting Northern Ireland
- served by a Secretariat of British and Irish government officials
- the Republic of Ireland got a consultative role on behalf of Catholics in some matters concerning Northern Ireland
- goal: the end of violence in Ulster

1998: Good-Friday-Agreement

- Northern Ireland Assembly (the new, independent legislature in Northern Ireland)

- North-South-Ministerial-Council (the Rep. of Ireland gets the opportunity to be directly involved into Northern-Irish affairs)

- British-Irish-Council (council between delegates from the regional assemblies of Scotland,

Wales and Northern-Ireland with representatives of the British and Irish governments)

- goal: self determination, equal rights for the Catholic community in Northern


- prisoner of war

1. right to wear own clothes
2. right to abstain from penal labour
3. right to free association
4. right to educational activities
5. restoration of remission

- ordinary decent prisoner (republican prisoner)

- loss of all privileges prisoners of war have

- the five demands of the republican prisoners during their hunger strike in 1980:

1. right to wear own clothes
2. right to refuse penal labour
3. right to free association
4. full 50 percent remission of their sentences
5. normal visits, parcels, educational and recreational facilities

The British attitude on the IRA until 1994

"The IRA is a bunch of common criminals, not a revolutionary guerrilla organization."


1 cf. The playground memories that soon turned sour, in The Times (12.08.1989)

2 cf. Paradise, Jean: Collier's Year Book 1971, 71

3 cf. The British occupation of Northern Ireland, URL: /Chapter_Two.html

4 cf. Beyond the pale, URL:

5 cf. The British occupation of Northern Ireland, URL: /Chapter_Two.html

6 cf. The British occupation of Northern Ireland, URL: /Chapter_Two.html

7 `The five demands' are: own clothes, the right to refuse penal labour, free association, 50%remission of their sentences, recreational and educational facilities

8 cf. The British occupation of Northern Ireland, URL: /Chapter_Two.html

9 examples in which IRA members were charged for attacks British special agents did

10 cf. The British occupation of Northern Ireland, URL: /Chapter_Two.html

11 cf. Thatcher aims for peace in historic deal, in The Times (16.11.1985)

12 id.

13 cf. A glimmer of hope, in The Guardian (12.12.1997)

14 cf. Barry/Underhill: A Clean Shot at Peace in Newsweek (20.04.1998)

19 of 20 pages


Britain's Role in Northern Ireland since the1960s. A Critical Study
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Britain, Role, Northern, Ireland, Critical, Study
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Bernd Sandbrink (Author), 2000, Britain's Role in Northern Ireland since the1960s. A Critical Study, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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