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How much Progress had been made in resolving the Political, Economic and Social causes of conflict in Northern Ireland by 1985 Essay

Up until 1985 there were many steps attempted in order to reduce violence in Northern Ireland, but they were met with vast opposition for the most part, and many failed completely. However, there were some factors that signified progress on reducing violence. In some ways progress was made in Northern Ireland. 1n June 1973 an election was held that would result in the setting up of a power sharing government, a system where the government was run by a power sharing executive, containing a number of Catholics.

This was great progress because it encouraged cooperation between Catholics and Protestants, and reassured Catholics that attempts were being made to include them in the government. Also, proportional representation was reintroduced, which gave the Catholics a voice, which was a huge confidence boost for the Nationalists because they now had a fair opportunity in the elections. The Anglo Irish Agreement, another big factor in trying to reduce conflict, was signed on November 15th 1985 at a place called Hillsborough Castle, between Margaret Thatcher and Garret Fitzgerald, the PM of Eire.

This agreement set up an Intergovernmental conference, where the Northern Ireland Secretary and the Irish foreign minister would meet regularly to cooperate on Security, political and legal issues. This was progress because it now meant that the IRA would have a harder time avoiding official forces, and should lead to a reduction in levels if violence. Another step in the right direction was the attempted reforms, such as the disbandment of the B-Specials in 1969.

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This was huge progress because it now meant that the Catholics felt far less threatened by the constant violence and torment the B specials struck on the ordinary Catholics of Ireland. In 1984 the army arrested 47 protestant paramilitary members. This showed the Catholics that they were also trying to tackle the Protestant Rebels, not just target Catholics. However, there is a large amount of evidence that shows that sufficient progress had not been made in dealing with the conflicts. For example Protestants were strongly opposed to the new Power Sharing executive.

The Ulster workers union was formed to contest the government. It was made up of radical protestant politicians, Loyalist paramilitaries and protestant trade unionists. In 1974 the UWC called a general strike, which gained support from Protestants. The government felt threatened, so they ordered the army to take control of all petrol and oil supplies, this in turn triggered a huge response from the UWC. They threatened a complete shut down including power stations and sewage works. The Unionist leaders of the power sharing executive felt they had no choice other than to resign from government.

Although a good idea in theory, the power executive had failed. This meant little progress had been made, as it brought around a reaction that could have been devastating to Northern Irelands Economic situation. If the strikes had taken place, it would have destroyed any economic hope of restoring order. The Anglo Irish agreement, although another good idea in presumption, did not lead to reducing the violence. Extreme Unionists felt betrayed because they saw it as Dublin had been given a say into the running of their country without their consent.

The agreement led to clashes between the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries, causing more violence. This clearly shows that the agreement only caused more violence to occur, which is not a step in the right direction. Violence stilled continued as well, on July 10th 1982 an IRA bomb killed 10 soldiers in Hyde Park London, and the 17th December 1983 an IRA bomb outside the London department store Harrods killed 9 people, clear evidence that violence did not stop. The reforms too did not really give the Catholics hope that things were getting better.

As with the Political aspect, there is some evidence of some steps of progress in the social and economical causes. In 1976 the fair employment Agency was set up in order to try and tackle any discrimination against Catholics, and by 1990 20% of the senior civil service was Catholic, a great improvement. This is a clear sign of improvement because it shows that Catholics were gaining positions close to the Government, which meant Catholics were able to have their say for the country. Also, due to a government initiative to increase jobs, there was a rise in the amount of public sector jobs.

This was good because it meant that unemployed civilians now had an opportunity to have a job and become a proper member of society. In 1970 the fair points system started for council housing. This meant that there was no discrimination over religion about who gets the houses first. It was based on your current situation and how in need you were. Your religion took no part in how many points you received. Also Schools made an effort to become slightly more integrated, which children of both religions in classes, extra curricular sessions and more balanced teaching.

This was a very good thing because if children learnt to get along with the opposite religion from an early age, then in future years there may be less prejudice and violence against one another. Even after the disbandment of the B specials, which at the time felt great relief for Catholics, it was replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment. This was supposed to be a mixed force, but before long it became 96% protestant. Once again there was a protestant force working against the Catholics. Another point which demonstrates the lack of progress in Northern Ireland was the rising unemployment levels.

Even after mass government spending to create jobs, unemployment levels were at 15% in 1982, and had risen to 21% by 1985. At White rock ward unemployment of Catholics was at a staggering 56%. This shows the severe lack of progress purely by the fact many thousands of people still cannot find a job to support themselves. Where according to the 1991 census over half the population still lived in segregated areas, and there were still slums and squalor on a large scale and houses. There was still unemployment, and rising as well.

In 1982 unemployment was at 15%, and had risen to 21% in 1985. In 1981, at Whiterock ward in Northern Ireland unemployment was up to a staggering 56%, over half the local population. A report in 1982 investigating discrimination in Northern Ireland revealed continuing discrimination even after what the Fair employment agency had done to create a fairer work place. Overall, very little (but still a small amount) of progress was made in the Social, Economic and Political issues surrounding Violence up until 1985.

Catholics still felt left out, discriminated against and had no hope of having a say. Protestants were fearful that they might have a United Ireland imposed on them. There were also many Paramilitaries creating trouble, including the provisional IRA, and extremist parties such as Sinn Fein had more support than the more moderate and peaceful ones. Council Housing and Job discrimination was an on going problem, segregation was a large issue in housing estates, and there was still unemployment, poverty and discrimination.

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