NORTHERN IRELAND (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – IR)

News-CRUX-10     5th February 2024        

Context: Northern Ireland recently achieved the establishment of a functional government, marking a significant milestone after two years of parliamentary paralysis sparked by new trade rules between the European Union and the United Kingdom due to Brexit.

Northern Ireland’s Unique Position

  • About: It (part of the UK) shared a land border with the Republic of Ireland (an EU member).
  • Creation and Division: Northern Ireland emerged in May 1921 through the partitioning of Ireland, encompassing the six northeastern counties. Meanwhile, the remaining part of Ireland gained independence in 1922, forming the Republic of Ireland with Dublin as its capital.
  • Political Divide and Tensions: Post-independence, Northern Ireland stayed within the United Kingdom, leading to tensions between the predominantly Protestant unionists loyal to the Crown and the mainly Catholic faction aspiring to join the Republic. Presently, unionists support British Union, while nationalists advocate for a united and free Ireland.
  • Escalation and Conflict (1960s-1998): The late 1960s witnessed a violent conflict in Northern Ireland, fueled by opposing desires to remain part of the UK or join Ireland. The British Army and police, accused of excesses, exacerbated the situation. 

oThis turbulent period persisted until April 10, 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, marking the end of the bloodshed and introducing a unique governance system for Northern Ireland.

  • Collapse of Parliament in 2022

oBrexit Impact: Following the UK's departure from the EU, Northern Ireland finds itself sharing a land border with the EU member, the Republic of Ireland.

oProduct Standards Divergence: Due to differing product standards between the EU and the UK, mandatory border checks are now required for goods traveling from Northern Ireland to Ireland.