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