Was the historical Irish distrust of Great Britain justified?

The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? The Northern Ireland Conflict: Those Affected Refuse Crisis Management (1987) "Most British voters would be delighted if the Irish Sea rose up and swallowed the troublesome province of Northern Ireland." associate British politicians with the thought of the Northern Ireland conflict. Contributing to this resigned attitude is not only the persistence of the conflict, which has claimed deaths almost every day for the past twenty years; A feeling of powerlessness among those in charge of politics in London has arisen mainly because all attempts to "solve" or at least "satisfy" the Northern Ireland conflict have ended in a dead end. Northern Irish society is a social structure that has always largely lacked a consensus on the conditions for coexistence between the two population groups that make up this society, namely the Protestant and Catholic. It is also a society in which the moral and social barriers to the use of violence as a political tool are far lower than in other Western European countries.2 The impossibility of social coexistence without a minimum of agreement between the two population groups on the foundations of political community and the methods of social conflict resolution determine the dynamics of the Northern Ireland conflict. All patterns of interpretation that primarily try to blame external influences for the Northern Ireland conflict argue by ignoring the actual causes of the conflict. Northern Ireland is neither one of the last British colonies to be held by force in the United Kingdom by the Protestant representatives of British imperialism and the British army on behalf of the London central government (or even - as has occasionally been suspected - in the interests of NATO3) the country venue of archaic V. Chapter 1: 1 The Economist of November 29, 1986, p. 19. 2 Cf. Kevin Boyle / Tom Hadden: Ireland. A Positive Proposal, Harmondsworth 1985, p. 16. 3 Paul Bew / Henry Patterson: The British State and the Ulster Crisis. From Wilson to Thatcher, London 1985, pp. 140ff. Conflicts such as the wars of religion or the class struggle between the Protestant upper and Catholic lower classes. Unionist Northern Ireland The Government of Ireland Act of 19204 created two political entities in Ireland with separate parliaments for the north (six counties) and the south (26 counties) of the country. The legislation passed by the British Parliament embodied a compromise between the nationalist demand for recognition of the autonomous powers of the All-Ireland Parliament in Dublin (Dáil Éireann), which was constituted in 1919 after the departure of most of the Irish MEPs from the House of Commons in London, and the unionist demands emanating primarily from Ulster after receiving the British-Irish Union. With the legislation of 1920, the internal Irish conflict of interests between unionists and nationalists took on a territorial dimension for the first time. The differences in the prevailing political objectives of the two parts of the country were also confirmed by the results of the 1921 elections for the two parliamentary representations. While the nationalist Catholic Sinn Féin won 124 of the 128 seats in the south, the unionists in the north received 40 of the 52 seats in the voting decision there, also based on the proportional representation system. With the de facto recognition of the division of Ireland by the south, whose representatives signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, the founding charter of the (Southern) Irish Free State (Saorstàt Éireann), the “dual minority position” created by the division was established for the population of Northern Ireland . For one thing, the Catholic nationalists were now a minority in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, they still belonged to the all-Irish nationalist majority, which seemed to threaten the unionist Northern Ireland, which from this perspective was in a minority position. This threat was a tangible reality while the Irish civil war between opponents and supporters of the Anglo-Irish treaty (June 1922 - May 1923) continued. Above all, the logic of the policy 1. 4 For more detailed accounts of the development of the Northern Ireland conflict: Dennis G. Pringle: One Island, Two Nations? A Political Geographical Analysis of the National Conflict in Ireland, Letchworth / New York 1985 (especially on the history of the conflict and its development up to the 1960s); Brian Girvin: National Identity and Conflict in Northern Ireland, in: ders./ Roland Sturm (Ed.): Politics and Society in Contemporary Ireland, Aldershot 1986, pp. 105-134. Especially on the British perspective see Paul Bew / Henry Patterson, op. Cit. (Fn. 3). 380 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? tik in the frame of reference of the aforementioned double minority position explains the decisive changes in the course of the first years of Northern Irish autonomy, which helped to develop Northern Ireland into a bastion of the political and social power of the unionists. The factual minority position of the nationalists and the defensive stance of the unionists gave rise to a potential for distrust that determined social realities and thus, like an endless spiral, repeatedly created grounds for suspicion. With the division of Ireland, the opposition of the Catholic minority to the Northern Irish autonomy was by no means broken. The majority of them continued to question the legitimacy of the Northern Irish government and were reserved towards the Northern Irish administration. For example, many teachers in Catholic schools initially refused to teach according to the curriculum requirements of the Northern Irish Ministry of Education. Instead, they got their curriculum from Dublin, from where they also received their salaries. For the nationalists, the administration and the police remained instruments of a foreign power - an attitude that tended to accommodate unionist interests. Catholics in public office were on the unionist side in the smell of the “fifth column” of the nationalist state in the south. The unionist threats seemed to be justified again and again by the political decisions in the Republic of Ireland in the following decades. Article 2 of the Irish Constitution of 1937, which defines “the entire island of Ireland, its islands and territorial waters” as the territory of the Republic, remains in force today, and it was not until 1972 that a referendum erased Article 44 (2) of the Irish Constitution, which is also de jure of the Catholic one The Church, as the protector of the faith, gave the vast majority of Irish citizens a "special position" over other religious denominations. The defensive stance of the Protestant majority had consequences that went far beyond a legitimate need for protection, but which in the course of time were no longer recognized as an “overreaction”, but soon became an integral part of the unionist acquis. Discrimination against Catholics was inextricably linked with Protestant supremacy. Unionist policy is responsible for the following: 1. The proposals of the Boundary Drawing Commission, which was set up in connection with the conclusion of the Anglo-Irish Treaty to find boundaries for Northern Ireland that better reflect the national loyalties of the population than the old county borders, were ignored . With the confirmation of the old border lines in 1925 5 Amended in 1999. Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 381, in favor of territorial advantage, the Unionists gave the opportunity to reduce the proportion of the population of nationalistic opponents of the Northern Irish state and thus to defuse part of the conflict potential; 2. that the police and especially the police reserve (B-specials) became the domain of the Protestants. In the event of a conflict between the two population groups of Northern Ireland, the "partiality" of the state power was preprogrammed, as was the stationing of British troops as the only non-compromised regulatory body, or the desire of the Catholic minority to defend their security in extreme cases also by a power carried by them such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA); 3. that the introduction of the majority voting system for both the elections to the Northern Irish Parliament (1929) and local elections (1923) wasted the chance of a fair representation of the minority population, especially since restrictions on general and equal suffrage were retained as an accompanying measure. The right to vote in local elections remained tied to running a household in Northern Ireland even after the abolition of the property qualification in Great Britain in 1946. In addition, the so-called “business vote” was introduced here in 1946, a multiple voting right for companies that gave limited companies one additional vote in local elections for every £ 10 land they owned - up to a maximum of six votes. Not only the right to vote and the electoral system, but also the constituency division were politically manipulated. The constituency was set up in such a way that many more voters were required to vote for a representative in Catholic areas than in Protestant areas. With the manipulation of the right to vote, the number of people entitled to vote in local elections was reduced by about a third compared to the elections to the Northern Irish Parliament (Stormont), with significantly more Catholics than Protestants being denied the right to vote due to the lack of property qualifications. It was mainly Protestants who were wealthy enough to benefit from the “business vote”. With the constituency manipulation, artificial Protestant majorities were also generated by setting the constituency boundaries accordingly, even in areas in which a predominantly Catholic population lived. The result of the constituency manipulation was an almost complete unionist control of the politics and administration of Northern Ireland, also far beyond those social contexts in which the majority principle would have established the Protestant supremacy anyway; 382 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? 4. That these unionist positions of power at the local level were used to actively discriminate against the nationalist minority. Protestants were preferred by the predominantly Protestant local governments in their recruitment policy, in the allocation of housing and in the awarding of contracts to craft and industry. Discrimination in the public sector was "supplemented" by discrimination in the private sector with the result that to this day the proportion of Catholic workers in the service sector is disproportionately high and that the unemployment rate among Catholics is twice as high as that among Protestants. Civil Rights Movement and Unionist Reforms This building of unionist dominance proved extremely stable in the decades before and immediately after World War II. The dissatisfied members of the Catholic minority only had the alternative of submission or emigration. For the Unionists, ongoing emigration not only served as a "safety valve" to protect against nationalist militancy, it also prevented the gradual erosion of their positions of power through the change in the demographic balance of power brought about by the higher birth rate of Catholics. The better educational opportunities for large sections of the population in the course of the expansion of the British welfare state after the Second World War and the improvement in their material living conditions showed the Catholic minority the social and political limits of their integration into Northern Irish society more clearly than before Eyes. The desire to participate in the social modernization process in the British context seemed stronger than the traditionalist demand for the unification of the north with the republic, which, from the perspective of the time, would also have meant the connection of the north, which was in the process of modernization, to a - measured by this - backward agricultural country. Here the hitherto unique and probably irretrievable chance was given to create a basis for a social consensus in Northern Ireland through democratic reforms in favor of the discriminated Catholic minority. The unionist "state" of Northern Ireland was attacked by the Catholic side at this time not because of its integration into the United Kingdom, but because of the undemocratic quality that it had assumed. The forms of protest were adopted by the student and civil rights movements that flared up in all western democracies, with the model of the American civil rights activist Martin Luther King certainly having the most impression on the Northern Irish civil rights movement. The demands of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), founded in 1967, were: 1. Universal and equal suffrage in local elections (“one man, one vote!”); 2. an end to constituency manipulation; 3. Laws against discrimination against Catholics by local governments; 4. Allocation of living space according to a point system; 5. Abolish the Special Powers Act, which allowed suspects to be detained without trial; 6. Dissolution of the police reserve (B-specials). At first it seemed as if the unionists - or at least the majority of their political leaders - wanted to meet Catholic interests with an attitude that was ready for reform. Conciliation was also demonstrated for the first time in the relationship between the north and the republic. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Lemass, and the Northern Irish Prime Minister O'Neill met in 1965. One of the subjects of discussion was the proposal that the Republic of Ireland recognize the division of Ireland in exchange for improving economic relations with the North. O’Neill's cautious rapprochement between the two parts of Ireland, however, aroused increasing resistance among militant advocates of unionist dominance. The symbolic figure of an extremely negative attitude towards concessions to the Catholics and the Republic of Ireland was the preacher and church founder (Free Presbyterian Church) Ian Paisley, who has successfully mobilized the fundamentalist Protestant current that is quite independent within political unionism to this day Organizers of the peaceful civil rights marches of the NICRA, in which Protestants also took part, saw themselves in a dilemma when Paisley started calling for counter-demonstrations, with the consequence that the demonstrations of the NICRA to avoid violent clashes were regularly banned. When asked about the possibilities of their further work, the NICRA decided after a while to break the ban on demonstrations. The consequence was an increase in the number of 6 On the Role of Paisleys and the Independent Current of Protestant Fundamentalism in Political Unionism Steve Bruce: God Save Ulster! The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism, Oxford 1986; Clifford Smyth: The DUP as a Politico-Religious Organization, in: Irish Political Studies, 1 (1986), pp. 33-43. 384 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? clashes between civil rights activists and the police, but also an increase in violence between the Catholic and Protestant population groups. O'Neill's 1968 initiative, which took up most of NICRA's demands, came too late. The civil rights activists rejected the reform package as inadequate, and for many Protestants the proposed concessions to the Catholics went too far. When O'Neill was denied majority parliamentary support even after new elections, he resigned in 1969. The civil rights conflict took on more and more the character of a civil war between Protestants and Catholics, and the often partisan police seemed less and less capable of protecting the Catholic population from attacks. When British Army units were brought into Northern Ireland in August 1969, this was initially welcomed by Catholics as a protective measure in their interests. This positive attitude turned out to be short-lived after the poorly considerate house searches by the army for weapons in Catholic residential areas. The Catholic underground army IRA reacted surprisingly slowly to the opportunity offered by the need for protection of the Catholics. In 1969 IRA was spelled on the walls of Belfast's houses: "I ran away". It was not until the IRA was split into a Marxist (Officials, today: Workers ‘Party) wing and a wing prepared for armed struggle (Provisionals) 7 that the IRA's current military presence in Northern Ireland was established in 1970.At the beginning of the 1970s, with the IRA and the Protestant UDA (Ulster Defense Association) - to name only the most important paramilitary groups that dominate the field of violent conflict in addition to the state security forces (British Army and Northern Irish police) - that terror potential arose , which has since determined the appearance of Northern Ireland (Table 1). 7 Patrick Bishop / Eamon Mallie: The Provisional IRA, London 1987. Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 385 Table 1: Political violence in Northern Ireland Year Number of incidents a) Total number of deaths of which Catholics Protestants Security forces Other civilians IRA and other civilians UVFb) including Northern Irish British 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 n / a 368 2789 12123 6025 3875 2169 2571 1447 1210 1150 922 1213 601 556 423 15 25 173 474 252 221 244 296 114 70 106 78 108 95 77 64 7 8 62 166 75 95 104 124 33 9 17 20 27 20 1 5 17 65 32 17 17 14 6 7 5 4 16 9 44 36 6 8 31 74 50 50 69 95 19 21 14 19 15 18 - - - 10 8 4 18 5 6 - - 1 3 4 1 2 16 42 21 24 18 40 30 19 30 19 33 21 28 19 - - 43 107 58 27 13 14 16 12 38 12 11 20 5 9 - 2 4 10 8 4 5 4 4 2 2 3 3 3 - a) Shootings and bombings. b) Ulster Volunteer Force = Protestant paramilitary organization. Source: Kevin Boyle / Tom Hadder: Ireland. A Positive Proposal, Harmandsworth 1985, p. 14. The failure of the “power-sharing” experiment The British government was unwilling to use the army to perpetuate discrimination against the Catholic minority. This meant a London rejection of concessions to Protestant "hardliners" like Paisley. For the government, however, there was also no question that the future of Northern Ireland would have to be decided by majority finding and that it could not be prepared to give up the state's monopoly of force - for whatever reasons - to paramilitary organizations such as the IRA or the UDA also only partially or temporarily. The aim of the London government must therefore be internal reforms in connection with the fight against political violence and a consideration of the majority opinion on the national question. 3. 386 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? In 1972 the Northern Irish Parliament, apparently incapable of reform, was dissolved by the British government. London took over direct government.8 By 1973, almost all of the civil rights movement's demands had been enforced. The constitutional law for Northern Ireland passed by the British Parliament in 1973 even went beyond the question of equality for the Catholic minority and included the national question that was revived with the violent conflict in the early 1970s. It provided for the election of a Northern Ireland Assembly and the establishment of a Northern Irish executive with the participation of Catholics (power-sharing). Corresponding elections, now again based on a proportional representation system, took place in June 1973. At the end of November of the same year, the unionist wing led by Brian Faulkner, the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labor Party) founded by civil rights activists in 1970 as the strongest force in the Catholic camp, and the non-denominational Alliance Party agreed to jointly take over government in Northern Ireland. In December 1973 the British government took another step towards recognizing the all-Irish dimension of the Northern Ireland conflict. Prime Minister Edward Heath arranged for a meeting of representatives of the new executive and the Irish and British Governments in Sunningdale, a college near London. Here it was agreed to set up a Council of Ireland to deal with matters of common interest to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. These initiatives by the British government were the first serious attempt at a comprehensive solution to the Northern Ireland conflict - an attempt which the unionist leadership seemed incapable of. Until the emergence of the civil rights movement, the unionists had been able to ignore the problems of the Catholic minority. Their unwillingness to accommodate the Catholic population even on issues of equal treatment before the law had not only turned the conflict into a violent confrontation and cost Northern Irish autonomy, it also resulted in the irreconcilable conflict between Catholic nationalism and Protestant unionism displaced the dispute over civil rights as a central conflict constellation. Almost consequently, participation by Catholics in the government and, above all, the all-Irish dimension of the government of Northern Ireland provided for in the Sunningdale Agreement, were viewed with skepticism by the majority of the Unionists who continue to think in the tradition of self-assertion. The majority of the Protestant population saw in the planned government experiment an 8 A comprehensive analysis of the development of the years 1972-1975 can be found in Richard Rose: Northern Ireland. A Time of Choice, London / Basingstoke 1976. Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 387 clear shift in weight on the national question in favor of the nationalists and the Irish Republic. An attitude of refusal took hold, which was not only reflected in opinion polls, but also led in the spring of 1974 to a strike organized by paramilitary Protestant workers in strategically important industries (Ulster Workers' Council), which paralyzed Northern Ireland in a short time.9 The British government decided against using the military to crush the strike, which from a Catholic point of view brought it closer to the unionist position. The government interpreted the strike as an expression of the fact that its proposals for power-sharing were implemented without sufficient consultation of the Protestant majority, which is why the renunciation of the experiment of power-sharing by Catholics in this situation is the appropriate response. Northern Ireland as a police problem A new attempt by the British government to place the Northern Ireland problem in the hands of those affected was undertaken in 1975 with the elections for a constituent assembly in Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention). Before these elections, however, London set three preconditions for the recognition of possible resolutions of the Constitutional Council: 1. “power-sharing”, i.e. participation of Catholics in power, 2. an “Irish dimension”, i.e. recognition of a special relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and 3 Recognition of the right of the UK Parliament to have the ultimate say on Nordic legislation. The ensemble of preconditions basically meant an attempt to reissue the “power-sharing” experiment of the previous year, which was not supported by the Protestant majority - now on the basis of voluntary self-commitment. The outcome of this experiment was predictable. The unionist opponents of the Catholic participation in power won a solid majority in the constitutional convention (47 out of 78 seats). This meant the factual failure of this renewed attempt to resolve the conflict. The ongoing London direct government concentrated in the following years on accompanying economic and socio-political measures to pacify the Northern Ireland conflict, but could not prevent the violent 4. 9 More on the UWC strike: Robert Fisk: The Point of No Return: The Strike Which Broke the British in Ulster, London 1975. 388 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? seed clashes in the country made the Northern Ireland conflict a permanent police problem. Collaborations between the British government and the IRA resulted in a standstill agreement of 1972 to a second armistice between the Provisionals on the one hand and the army and police on the other, which lasted from the beginning of 1975 to January 1976. In order to avoid military confrontations, conflict settlement centers were set up in large cities (incident centers) and the IRA practically took over police functions in the Catholic residential areas. In view of the “unsolvable” nature of the conflict, the main aim of British politics seemed to be to achieve an “acceptable” level of violence. The status quo thus achieved turned out to be extremely unstable: 1. The IRA was unable to maintain its cooperation with the state authorities for long. Its more radical wing called for the deadlock to be broken and the struggle to continue until Irish unity was achieved. 2. In 1975, the policy of interning suspects without trial, introduced in 1971, was abandoned, not least due to international pressure. The Irish government had brought the British internment practice to the European Commission for Human Rights back in 1971. In 1978 the European Court of Justice for the Protection of Human Rights ruled that the internments violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The lifting of the internment initially appeared to be a further step towards reducing the confrontation, especially with the IRA. The regulation now chosen as an alternative by the British government, namely the treatment of violent terrorist criminals as “normal” criminals, aroused even more furious resistance from the IRA. Both developments led to the end of the ceasefire with the IRA and, for the latter, to a relocation of the most publicly visible part of the Northern Ireland conflict to prisons. In 1976 the Northern Irish authorities began to try all suspects of terrorism in so-called "diplock courts". The courts, named after their “inventor” Lord Diplock, operate without the jury that is otherwise common in Anglo-Saxon law. This deviation from the legal tradition is justified with the possibility of a partisan jury (mostly the majority of the jury members are Protestant, the accused Catholic or the majority of possible jury members are politically biased) and the danger to the life and safety of the citizens who have to serve on a jury in terrorist trials. The work of the Diplock courts within the framework of the “Prevention of Terrorism Acts” of 1984 is criticized by the Catholic side as a will- Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 389 and has remained a point of contention between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain to this day.10 More spectacular than the dispute over The legality of the Diplock courts was the consequence of equating “political” prisoners with criminals in the prison system from March 1, 1976. Most IRA members refused to wear prison clothing or to work. When they were not given their own clothes, they stayed naked and wrapped themselves in blankets ("went on the blanket" 11). When they were then denied access to the courtyard and other perks, they began a dirt campaign and smeared their cells with their excrement. In 1980 and 1981 there were hunger strikes to enforce the five demands made by the IRA prisoners12: 1. no prison clothing; 2. Release from work in prison; 3. Free choice of the grouping of political prisoners (in practice this meant the desire to separate Catholic and Protestant prisoners); 4. Adequate educational and recreational opportunities, including visits, letters, and parcels; 5. Possibility of remission of the penalty. Ten prisoners on hunger strikes died for these demands in the H blocks of Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. Their slow death dominated the headlines not only in Northern Ireland, but also in the Republic of Ireland and partly in Great Britain. The hunger strike Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster Parliament in a by-election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in April 1981, while Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew, who were also involved in the protest, were elected Members of the Dáil, the Parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in June 1981. On October 3rd, the hunger strike broke down. The British government did not make any concessions during the hunger strike. When it ended, Northern Ireland Minister Prior allowed "political" detainees to wear their own clothing and detention conditions were eased. On the obligation of all prisoners 10 More details on the problem of diplock courts: Shoot to Kill? International Lawyers ‘Inquiry into the Lethal Use of Firearms by the Security Forces in Northern Ireland, Dublin 1985, p. 114ff. 11 In detail: Tim Pat Coogan: On the Blanket. The H-Block Story, Dublin 1980. On the consequences of the H-Block protest for the politics of the IRA: Liam Clarke: Broadening the Battlefield: H-Blocks and the Rise of Sinn Fein, Dublin 1987. 12 On these demands and the reactions in the Republic of Ireland on hunger strikes in the north, see Vincent Buckley: Memory Ireland. Insights into the Contemporary Irish Condition, Harmondsworth 1985, pp. 117ff. 390 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? however, was detained for prison work. The “ceiling protest” ended with these concessions. Interest in the Northern Ireland conflict shifted again outside the prison walls to the ongoing violent clashes - but also to new attempts to help resolve the conflict. The New Ireland Forum After the end of the hunger strike, the Thatcher government, which came into office in 1979, saw for the first time in its reign that there were broader options for action in its Northern Ireland policy. In October 1982 elections were held for a Northern Irish assembly initiated by it, which was to influence the shaping of Northern Irish politics according to the model of the "rolling devolution". The mode of "rolling devolution" included that the assembly was allowed to take over ever larger parts of the self-government of Northern Ireland, provided that it could find a 70% majority to take responsibility in each individual case. De facto, this regulation meant the renewed compulsion to “power-sharing” - but no longer as before in one step and comprehensively for all policy areas, but gradually and separately according to policy areas, depending on the willingness of the unionists and nationalists to agree. However, this model had already failed at the time of the assembly elections because the majority party of the nationalists, the SDLP, took part in them but had declared that it would not take the seats that had been won. From their point of view, this was the only possibility for the SDLP to maintain its position in the Catholic camp after the phase of domestic political polarization in the wake of the hunger strikes. How real the threat to her position as spokeswoman for the Catholic minority had already become was made clear by the 1982 election results. While the SDLP received 18.8% of the vote, Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA, already achieved 10.1%. The dilemma in which the SDLP found itself in the early 1980s, namely its position between the armed nationalists and the British government's constitutional offer, put the party in great distress over questions about its preferred strategy. As a way out of this dilemma it should serve an independent political initiative, which should be formulated with the support and the "legitimation" of the Republic of Ireland. At the insistence of the SDLP, representatives of the ruling and opposition parties of the republic, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labor Party, set up a New Ireland Forum with her in 1983 in Dublin. For months the forum collected information on the situation in Northern Ireland, the causes of the Northern Ireland conflict and possible solutions in the form of hearings, written submissions, special reports and trips across the country to London. As a result, the New Ireland Forum presented three solution models for the Northern Ireland conflict: 13 1. the unified Irish state (integration of Northern Ireland into the republic), 2. a federal or confederal link between the republic and the north and 3. a British-Irish condominium over Northern Ireland. The negative attitude of the Northern Irish Protestant majority to all of these options was foreseeable. The British government considered them unrealistic, especially since the forum assumed that a majority of the people of Northern Ireland would voluntarily adopt one of these proposals. Margaret Thatcher flatly rejected all three proposals with a three-time "out". According to Margaret Thatcher, the situation to be assumed is the integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom, which also corresponds to the wishes of the majority of its people.14 Even in the Republic of Ireland, the parties involved showed a surprisingly reserved attitude towards the New's report Ireland Forum captured. The then opposition leader Charles Haughey (Fianna Fáil) emphasized most clearly that, in his opinion, the work of the forum had not created a new situation. The only viable path for Northern Ireland is the integration of the six counties into the Irish Republic, as provided for in the Irish Constitution. The Anglo-Irish Agreement In addition to the efforts of the SDLP and the attempt to find an internal solution with the help of the "rolling devolution", attempts were also made at bilateral level between the governments in London and Dublin to influence the situation in Northern Ireland.Irish Prime Minister Fitzgerald (Fine Gael), who was ready to talk, whose party was far more inclined than Fianna Fáil to deny the ties of Northern Ireland 6. 13 New Ireland Forum Report, Dublin 1984, pp. 25ff. See also Kevin Boyle / Tom Hadden: How to Read the New Ireland Forum Report, in: Political Quarterly, 55 (1984), pp. 402-417. 14 Cf. Brian Girvin: The Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985, in: ders./ Roland Sturm, loc. Cit. (Footnote 4), pp. 150-165, p. 157. 392 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? to the United Kingdom and to act accordingly15, agreed with the British government in 1981 to set up an intergovernmental council (Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council) as the first result of the regular meetings of the heads of government of the two countries that have taken place since 1980.16 This process of consultation grew out of this process 1985 an intergovernmental agreement (Anglo-Irish Agreement), essentially linked to the Sunningdale Agreement, which, in return for a stronger role for the Republic in combating IRA activities, gives the British government the right to propose issues relating to Northern Ireland The agreement was interpreted by the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland, like Sunningdale in 1974, as a gateway for the influence of the Republic of Ireland on Northern Irish domestic politics. The IRA's political wing also rejected the agreement. For him, the recognition of the current status of Northern Ireland contained in the agreement is an instrument for maintaining the division of Ireland. A first consequence of the agreement was the mobilization of the militant Protestant opposition and thus a deepening of the division in Northern Irish society. Catholics were evicted from mixed neighborhoods and Protestant marches ended in confrontations with the police. The unionist majority, united in the collaboration of the traditionally largest Protestant party, the Official Unionist (OUP), and the more radical Democratic Unionists (DUP) under Paisley, tried in vain to use every means of protest available to undermine the Anglo-Irish agreement: 1. By-elections for the British House of Commons, provoked by the voluntary resignation of the fifteen unionist MPs, should be used for a Northern Irish veto against the agreement. The election results of January 1986, however, fell short of expectations. One of the parliamentary seats was lost to the SDLP, which supported the agreement. 2. On March 3, 1986, the leaders of the unionist parties called for a general strike. But even he missed the planned demonstrative action. 15 On the different attitudes of the two parties to the causes and possible solutions to the Northern Ireland conflict, see Richard Sinnott: The North: Party Images and Party Approaches in the Republic, in: Irish Political Studies, 1 (1986 ), Pp. 15-31. 16 For more details on the Northern Ireland Policy of the Republic of Ireland: Dietmar Herz: The Northern Ireland Policy of the Irish Republic, in: Brian Girvin / Roland Sturm, op. Cit. (Fn. 4), pp. 135-149. 17 In the official wording in the Ireland Today Special, Dublin 1985 published by the Irish Foreign Ministry. On the discussion of the agreement, cf., inter alia, Brian Girvin, op. Cit. (Fn. 14); Michael Connolly / John Loughlin: Reflections on the Anglo-Irish Agreement, in: Government and Opposition, 21 (1986), pp. 146-160; Brendan O’Leary: The Anglo-Irish Agreement: Folly or Statecraft ?, in: West European Politics, 10 (1987), 1, pp. 5-32. Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 393 effect on British politics. The British media portrayed it as a failure due to the countermeasures taken by law enforcement officials. 3. The unionist parties turned the assembly, which was elected in 1982 and ruled by them, into a forum against the Anglo-Irish agreement. The Alliance party then withdrew from parliamentary work and the British government dissolved the assembly in 1986. 4. The announced strategy of the unionists of making the province ungovernable by refusing to work in the local government quickly proved to be relatively ineffective. On the one hand, they underestimated London's ability to carry out tasks centrally; on the other hand, the denial front quickly crumbled in the face of threatened legal proceedings and high fines. 5. It is true that in November 1986 on the anniversary of the Hillsborough Agreement, as the Anglo-Irish Agreement is also called after the place of conclusion of the agreement, the "Ulster Resistance" - a new paramilitary organization - was launched in the presence of Paisley but was by no means a sign of the mass opposition of the Protestant population. Opinion polls show that 20% of Protestants support the agreement. 6. The attempt to break through the Irish isolation through mass mobilization and participation in by-elections in England and to mobilize the British public for the cause of the Protestants failed miserably because of the lack of interest on the part of the British. The firmness with which the Thatcher government adhered to the agreement with the Irish government did not prevent the polarization of Northern Irish society from intensifying, but it did not prevent the defeat of 1974 from being repeated. Compared to the situation at the time, however, the British government was also in a better negotiating position. If the cooperation of the unionists was indispensable for the implementation of the “power-sharing” model, the implementation of the Hillsborough Agreement was a matter for the governments in London and Dublin. Significantly, the reason for the rejection of the unionists was the complaint that they had not been consulted when it came about. After the many failures of their policy of obstruction, the willingness to talk on the unionist side seemed to have grown. A clear indication of this is the change in strategy that is emerging for the first time. Both statements by Paisley18 and statements by the UDA19 show that the militant wing of the unionists in return for the task was 18 See The Economist of April 18, 1987, p. 24. 19 See Financial Times of January 30, 1987 , P. 8. 394 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? be of the agreement and with it the ousting of the Republic of Ireland from Northern Irish politics would be ready to accept a model of power-sharing, the participation of the Catholic minority in the administration of Northern Ireland. Chances for a rethink? Nevertheless, the chances for a rethink in Northern Irish society are rather slim. The bitterness on the nationalist side towards the unionists is at least as deep as the Protestant mistrust towards the Republic of Ireland.20 The ideas about the future of the political shape of Northern Ireland are too different in the two camps to be compatible. Table 2: Desired solutions for the Northern Ireland conflict (in percent), survey 1984 Protestants Catholics Association of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland 2 34 Federation of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland 5 25 Joint government of Northern Ireland by the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain 10 18 Other solution 83 23 100 100 Those who wanted a different solution were in favor of: London direct government 46 7 Catholic power sharing in the government of Northern Ireland 7 5 Protestant majority government 15 1 Northern Ireland's new borders to reduce the Catholic population 1 1 Northern Irish independence 10 1 Other solution 4 8 83 23 Source: Brian Girvin: National Identity and Conflict in Northern Ireland, in: ders./ Roland Sturm (Ed.): Politics and Society in Contemporary Ireland, Aldershot 1986, p. 130. 7. 20 On the Protestant perspective, see the interview study by John F. Calliher / Jerry L. De-Gregory: Violence in Northern Ir eland: Understanding Protestant Perspectives, Dublin 1985 (especially Chapter 3, pp. 71ff.). Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 395 The attempts to strike a balance between the warring populations proved short-lived and without lasting consequences. The unionist center, which supported the “power-sharing” experiment in the early 1970s, was soon marginalized in its own camp, and the non-denominational alliance party only got 10% of the vote in elections. The 50 (+)% bloc of the unionists and the 30% bloc of the nationalists face each other irreconcilably (see Table 3). Voting is dictated by camp thinking for over 80% of voters. Table 3: Elections in Northern Ireland 1979-1985 (share of votes in percent) 1979 Westminster Parliament 1979 European elections 1982 Assembly 1983 Westminster Parliament 1984 European elections 1985 local elections Unionists: OUP DUP 36.6 46.8 10.2 21.9 51.7 29.8 29.7 52.7 23.0 34.0 54.0 20.0 21.5 55.1 33.6 29.8 54.1 24.3 Nationalists: SDLP Sinn Féin Workers' Party 18.2 19.7 1.7 24.6 25.4 0.8 18.8 10.1 31.6 2.7 17.9 13.4 33.2 1.9 22.1 13.3 36.7 1.3 17, 8 9.2 28.6 1.6 Outside of the two camps: Alliance 11.9 6.8 9.3 8.0 5.0 7.1 = grouping as a whole. Source: Brian Girvin: National Identity and Conflict in Northern Ireland, in: ders./ Roland Sturm, loc. Cit. (Fn. 4), p. 127. Extra-parliamentary attempts at reconciliation have also repeatedly failed - most spectacularly the initiative of the Belfast Peace Women. Your movement, the “peace people”, which was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, never achieved the same impact in Northern Ireland that it had abroad. Betty Williams, who now lives in the United States, and the movement's co-founder, Mairead Corrigan, remained strangers in the ghettos of the major cities in Northern Ireland - wealthy middle-class women who had stolen the world of jet set tourism with the misery of their country. Today both women no longer talk to each other. Only Mairead Corrigan continues to work with the peace people, whose work is still supported by almost 200 people today.21 21 Cf. Marianne Quoirin: The lost dream of peace. Assessment after ten years: What happened to the Peace Women in Belfast ?, in: Frankfurter Rundschau of December 20, 1986, ZB 5. 396 V. The Northern Ireland Question - Controversial, Solved? The people of Northern Ireland live in two separate social worlds with their own educational systems, their own leisure activities, their own beliefs and their own hopes. The potential for the homogenization of society, which the economic boom of the 1960s seemed to have in store, has melted away in the face of the gray everyday life of a deep and long-lasting economic crisis in Northern Ireland. Politically, too, little moves in Northern Ireland by itself. But London politics can only inadequately compensate for the lack of social dynamism. So far, the Northern Irish have always refused to commit themselves to external crisis management. Chapter 1: The Northern Ireland Conflict 397