Northern Ireland

With an unenviable position as the poster child of sectarian politics in the West, Northern Ireland has long been cited as an exemplar of how the contestation of politics along sectarian lines can result in both inter-communal violence and peace-building. The six counties that comprise present day Northern Ireland remained under British rule following Ireland’s gaining of independence in 1922. For those counties’ Protestant inhabitants, descended largely from British colonists, there was a desire to remain part of the United Kingdom. For the Catholic inhabitants, a united Ireland was the goal. Throughout the 20th Century, the conflicting views about Northern Ireland’s status fuelled a long-running conflict between both sides, as politics took on an increasingly sectarian hue. The dispute reached its nadir during the three decades of sectarian conflict know as ‘The Troubles’. The Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998, largely helped reduce the violence and led to establishment of a power-sharing executive within Northern Ireland’s devolved government.