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Example research essay topic: Ireland Catholic And Protestant Fears In The 1930s - 1,097 words

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By the end of the 1930 's the Northern State had existed for almost two decades, as had its Southern counterpart. During this time the two states set themselves up in a way that seemed to justify the fears that both communities, Catholic and Protestant had when the possibility of Home Rule was first talked about in the 1880 's. The Northern state was one where the Protestant majority was in power and treated the Catholic minority as a threat, thus realising the fears of that community. The South had become an agrarian state with little industry and a constitution that enshrined the power of the Catholic Church thus proving the Protestant mantra that "Home Rule equals Rome Rule" In 1910, John Redmond and the other Irish Nationalist MPs once more held the balance of power in the House of Commons.

The price of their support for the government was a third Home Rule bill, which this time could not be blocked by the House of Lords. A southern Unionist, Sir Edward Carson, was selected to lead Unionists, and well over 400, 000 people in Ulster signed a Covenant expressing their determination to use "all means which may be found necessary" to defeat Home Rule. When the unionist Ulster Volunteer Force smuggled rifles into Larne in 1914, and the nationalist Irish Volunteers smuggled a smaller shipment of rifles into a harbour near Dublin, Ulster seemed to be poised on the brink of civil war. But in 1914 the Home Rule issue was overshadowed by events elsewhere in Europe. The Home Rule bill was given Royal assent, but its operation was suspended until after the end of the war, when it was to be amended to make special provision for Ulster which seemed ominous to the Catholic minority there.

After the war, a fourth Home Rule bill, the Government of Ireland Act (1920), proposed two Parliaments: one for Northern Ireland (consisting of counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone) and one for Southern Ireland. The southern Parliament never functioned, but King George V opened the Parliament of Northern Ireland in June 1921. Towards the end of 1920, with violence on the increase, a Special Constabulary (including full-time A Specials and part-time B Specials) had already been set up to assist the RIC in Ulster. In April 1922, RIC men and many Specials applied to join the new police force for Northern Ireland called the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

As a result of riots and the IRA campaign, 557 people were killed in the north between July 1920 and July 1922. The border between the Free State and Northern Ireland was not finally confirmed until 1925, when the governments agreed not to implement the changes proposed by the Boundary Commission. To understand the historical enmity between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, it is necessary to understand past conflicts between the two groups and to examine the reasons they have remained separate throughout their history. The settlement of Ulster in 1609, by contrast, was massive in scale and resulted in the intrusion of a Protestant culture that was completely alien to its Catholic inhabitants. Massacres of both Protestants and Catholics took place throughout the 1600 s, as the two sides battled for supremacy and the right to occupy the land each now called home. Like most cultural differences, the roots of the Protestant-Catholic enmity in Northern Ireland are buried in the distant past, with fresh incidents only serving to reopen old wounds and solidify negative stereotypes.

The siege mentality of the Unionists continues to stem from the fortified townships in which they were forced to live following the 'Plantation' of 1609. Thus, each new threat is perceived as dire, within the context of brutal pogroms which took place hundreds of years before. The Catholics still feel as if they have an alien culture living amongst them. This feeling has been enhanced through the separation of the two communities and the continued enforcement of the Special Powers Act of 1922. This act, designed to combat IRA resistance to Partition, was left in force until well after the beginning of the Troubles, thus perpetuating a climate of mistrust that has yet to be dispelled With the exception of their competition for the same resources, the two communities can be characterised by a lack of contact. Their lack of contact has created feelings of deep distrust between the Catholic and Protestant communities.

Mistrust and bad feelings resulting from the colonisation of Ireland by Protestant settlers were followed by centuries of political and social segregation of Catholics and Protestants in all of Ireland. The conditions created as a result of this history became important during the early part of the twentieth century, the Protestant Unionists, greatly feared being ruled by the Catholic majority Among the issues that contributed the most to Protestant insecurity and their fear of extinction in Northern Ireland were the 3. 2 million Catholics who lived south of the border and their link to Catholics in continental Europe and the Vatican in Rome. Within Northern Ireland itself Protestants make up about 58 per cent of the population of 1. 6 million people, but if united with the south, then the Protestants would move from being a majority to a minority, subject (they fear) to the will of the Catholics. The Partition of Ireland did little to ease the sectarian mistrust and separateness between Catholics and Protestants left in the six counties of Ulster which were devolved to Unionist rule. Each community continued to be defined by its religious affiliation, with little mixture between the two groups. Education, neighbourhoods, workplaces, entertainment, and numerous other social activities remained segregated.

The names of places also continue to be used to denote religious and national affiliation e. g. Derry/Londonderry The physical segregation of the two communities can be attributed to various reasons, not all of which stem from a fear of violence. For instance, as most schooling is conducted by religious denomination, it makes sense for Protestant and Catholic families to find housing closer to their schools. Church attendance is high in Northern Ireland, with the church community providing the structure for social interaction. In addition, marriages in Northern Ireland primarily take place with people from the same local area, creating elaborate family-based structures that tend to be exclusionary and segregated.

These trends tend to isolate and insulate local communities from outside influences, preserving old attitudes towards outsiders and considerable conformity within the community. Politics in Northern Ireland was dominated by the necessity for Protestant control of the government and its processes. The...


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