Modern Ireland

Ireland's troubled history continues. The centuries-old division between Protestant and Catholic, between planter and Gael, finds expression in the partition of the island. Northern Ireland has remained part of the United Kingdom, while the Irish Free State further distanced itself by becoming the Republic of Ireland in 1949 and ceasing to be part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Within Northern Ireland, Protestants and Catholics have never reached more than an uneasy accommodation.

In 1972 continued civil strife led the British government to abolish the parliament and government of Northern Ireland, and to create a Northern Ireland Office as unrepresentative of those it governed as Dublin Castle once was. Both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are members of the European Community, but participation in this multi-national venture has yet to make Ireland's two "tribes" more at home with one another. Nor has the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which gave the Irish government a weighty consultative role in Northern Ireland affairs, effected the reconciliation it sought. The Irish problem remains unsolved. There may be lessons to leam from history that would alleviate the persistent troubles - but, if so, who is willing to leam them?

About Ireland's History