2001 A Peace Odyssey Essay Research Paper

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2001: A Peace Odyssey? Essay, Research Paper IntroductionWhen I was in Ireland in 1997, I learned one important thing within few days: Do not ask, talk or enter into discussions about the contentious issues of politics and religion, and so I did not. However, it is impossible to touch Irish ground without also touching the fringes of what is popular referred to as the ?Irish Question?. I noticed armed soldiers guarding the polling place at a by-election in county Armagh, a lorry driver vehemently expressed his disgust at the Irish tricolour and an elderly gentleman passionately told the history of Ireland. Naturally he focused on the events that have caused Irish nationalists grieving for centuries, e.g. Cromwell?s conquest of Ireland, King William of Orange?s defeat of James

II, the confiscation of the land of Catholics and their degradation to tenant farmers. He did not mention the Rebellion in 1641 or the Siege of Derry. To outsiders, the logic of this conflict is difficult to understand. Although King William?s seizure of the throne was the foundation of democracy and the end to monarchical dominion over the British Isles, the Glorious Revolution is hardly remembered in England. However, ?Orangemen see the victory [over James II] as an historic triumph for civil and religious liberty.? This is what they celebrate every year in July, and is of course what offends Catholics. Their perception of the parades is one of Protestants showing off their ultimate defeat of Catholicism. Misunderstandings, lack of communication and refusal to understand the

others? standpoint seem to be the root of the conflict. A wind of change blew over Northern Ireland in 1998. An overwhelming majority endorsed The Good Friday Agreement leaving hope for the future. But recently the peace process has slowed down. The compromises made in the Agreement were obviously easier to write down than to implement. One side has been accused of not keeping their promises, and the other has, as a result of this, been reluctant to continue the process. The former are Sinn F?in and the IRA, the latter are Protestants and unionists. Since the Troubles started in the late 1960s, Protestants have been split regarding the peace process. The majority wants peace. However, there is an extremely different perception of the price at which it should be bought. In the

following sections, the differences between and the reasons for the Protestant attitudes to the peace process will be examined. The Peace Agreements ? From Sunningdale to Good FridayThe Early AgreementsFollowing the Troubles in the late 60s and the early 70s, the Sunningdale Agreement, the first push for peace in recent history, was drawn up. The loyalists in Northern Ireland largely saw the agreement as a betrayal of the British because the agreement was made without their consent ?the Irish and the British governments simply ignored any wishes unionist may have had about the future of their province. The main purpose of the agreement was to provide Catholics in Northern Ireland with greater equality and the way to achieve this was to establish a cross-community executive and

Council of Ireland. Unionists felt they had been ignored, although it had been admitted that as long as the majority wished so, Northern Ireland would remain British. Through extensive strikes and fierce unionist opposition, the power-sharing executive was brought to a short-lived end and Northern Ireland was again subject to direct rule from Westminster. Hereby, Protestants had signalled to the outside world that they would not accept any agreements without their affirmation. However, that is what happened once again in November 1985. Ignoring the population in Northern Ireland entirely, Thatcher and the Irish Prime Minister Fitzgerald signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement. In general it resembled the Sunningdale Agreement but regarding the power-sharing executive the Anglo-Irish