"The Irish Question" ("Ирландский вопрос") — страница 2

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MPs, have taken little part in UK affair except those involving Northern Ireland. From 1972 onwards successive UK governments have tried to find a « political solution» to the Northern Irish problems, that is, a solution acceptable to most Catholics and most Protestants. Several devices have been tried with little or no success. Protestant politicians are elected on programs, which involve refusal to accept compromise. Meanwhile, the IRA continues its terrorist campaign. It receives both moral and financial support from some descendants of Irish people who emigrated to the US. Although so many innocent victims have been killed, many of them by chance or through mistakes, it does not seem likely that any different British government policy would have succeed in preventing the

violence that goes on. Northern Ireland’s economy, based partly on farming, party on the heavy industries of Belfast, has brought its people to a standard of living well above that of the Republic, but lower than Great Britain’s. With the decline of shipbuilding there is no serious unemployment, and vast seems have been spent by UK governments in attempts to improve the situation. II British Policy towards Northern Ireland The links between Northern Ireland and Britain were close and of long standing, for Britain’s involvement with Ireland is dated from the 12th century. Ireland had been ruled directly from Westminster since 1800 under the Act of Union, and the Irish economy was intimately bound up with that of the rest of the United Kingdom. Moreover, when Britain

abandoned the union after the First World War, it bestowed wide self- government on Only part of Ireland, the twenty- six county Irish Free State. The remaining six counties of Northern Ireland were given a regional parliament and government with limited powers and remained an integral part of the United Kingdom. But there was no political consensus to the nature of the state to be established. Northern Ireland was riddled with ethnic and regional divisions, and to crow all, in 1920s and 1930s its economy was hardly healthy with its inefficient agriculture and ailing industries. In fact, Britain was faced with a problem of establishing a regime, which would be self- supporting and would survive manifold divisions. But Britain failed to find adequate solution to this problem, and

all its attempts brought to a bloody end. Britain determined both the boundaries and the form of government in the 1920 Coverment of Ireland Act. The controversial six counties included a large Catholic minority, some one- third of the population within Northern Ireland, including some predominantly Catholic areas on the borders with the Irish Free State. The form of government was modelled on Westminster and a subordinate regional government and parliament were given restricted financial powers but almost unlimited powers over such vital matters of community interest and potential conflict as education, local government, law and order. The 1920 settlement gave the two- thirds Protestant and Unionist majority a virtual free hand and ended in anarchy and the fall of Stormont in

1972. From the beginning the British government was anxious that the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland should accept the legitimacy of the new creation and to that end Westminster did urge the government of Northern Ireland to adopt a friendlier and more accommodating attitude towards the minority, particularly in respect of law enforcement, local government and education. Nevertheless, in the last analysis, it refused to exercise its sovereignty to block such divisive measures as the abolition of proportional representation in local government elections or to counteract sectarian tendencies in education and law enforcement. The reason that Westminster did not do so was that any firm stand would have meant the resignation of the unionist government and, in view of its in

built majority, its immediate return to office. Such an eventuality would have presented alternatives: a humiliating climb down or the resumption of direct responsibility for the government of the six counties -- the very thing that the 1920 government of Ireland act had been designed to avoid. As far as Westminster was concerned, minority rights in Northern Ireland had to be subordinate to the broader interests of the United Kingdom and British Empire. III Theories of Political Violence in the Northern Ireland Conflict. There have been various attempts to sympathize the range of theories which have been put forward to explain the Northern Ireland conflict and to relate these two practical remedies and solutions to the problem. The diversity of the theories which have been put