The Northern Ireland Portal

Introduction

Location of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom
Location of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom
Northern Ireland borders the Republic of Ireland to its south and west.
Northern Ireland borders the Republic of Ireland to its south and west.

Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann [ˈt̪ˠuəʃcəɾˠt̪ˠ ˈeːɾʲən̪ˠ] (listen); Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2021, its population was 1,903,100, making up about 27% of Ireland's population and about 3% of the UK's population. The Northern Ireland Assembly (colloquially referred to as Stormont after its location), established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the UK Government. Northern Ireland cooperates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, creating a devolved government for the six northeastern counties. As was intended, Northern Ireland had a unionist majority, who wanted to remain in the United Kingdom; they were generally the Protestant descendants of colonists from Britain. Meanwhile, the majority in Southern Ireland (which became the Irish Free State in 1922), and a significant minority in Northern Ireland, were Irish nationalists and Catholics who wanted a united independent Ireland. Today, the former generally see themselves as British and the latter generally see themselves as Irish, while a Northern Irish or Ulster identity is claimed by a significant minority from all backgrounds.

The creation of Northern Ireland was accompanied by violence both in defence of and against partition. During the conflict of 1920–22, the capital Belfast saw major communal violence, mainly between Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist civilians. More than 500 were killed and more than 10,000 became refugees, mostly Catholics. For the next fifty years, Northern Ireland had an unbroken series of Unionist Party governments. There was informal mutual segregation by both communities, and the Unionist governments were accused of discrimination against the Irish nationalist and Catholic minority. In the late 1960s, a campaign to end discrimination against Catholics and nationalists was opposed by loyalists, who saw it as a republican front. This unrest sparked the Troubles, a thirty-year conflict involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries and state forces, which claimed over 3,500 lives and injured 50,000 others. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement was a major step in the peace process, including paramilitary disarmament and security normalisation, although sectarianism and segregation remain major social problems, and sporadic violence has continued.

Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, with Northern Ireland sharing both the culture of Ireland and the culture of the United Kingdom. In many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, with the Northern Ireland national football team being an exception to this. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games. (Full article...)

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The Real Irish Republican Army, or Real IRA (RIRA), is a dissident Irish republican paramilitary group that aims to bring about a United Ireland. It formed in 1997 following a split in the Provisional IRA by dissident members, who rejected the IRA's ceasefire that year. Like the Provisional IRA before it, the Real IRA sees itself as the only rightful successor to the original Irish Republican Army and styles itself as simply "the Irish Republican Army" in English or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish. It is an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland and designated as a proscribed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Since its formation, the Real IRA has waged a campaign in Northern Ireland against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)—formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)—and the British Army. It is the largest and most active of the "dissident republican" paramilitary groups operating against the British security forces. It has targeted the security forces in firearm attacks and bombings, and with grenades, mortars and rockets. The organisation has also been responsible for bombings in Northern Ireland and England with the goal of causing economic harm and disruption. The most notable of these was the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people. After that bombing the Real IRA went on ceasefire, but resumed operations again in 2000. In March 2009 it claimed responsibility for an attack on Massereene Barracks which killed two British soldiers, the first to be killed in Northern Ireland since 1997. The Real IRA has also been involved in attacks on drug dealers. (Full article...)
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DrIanPaisley.jpg
Ian Paisley in 2008

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside, PC (6 April 1926 – 12 September 2014) was a Northern Irish loyalist politician and Protestant religious leader who served as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from 1971 to 2008 and First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2008.

Paisley became a Protestant evangelical minister in 1946 and remained one for the rest of his life. In 1951 he co-founded the Reformed fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and was its leader until 2008. Paisley became known for his fiery sermons and regularly preached anti-Catholicism, anti-ecumenism and against homosexuality. He gained a large group of followers who were referred to as Paisleyites. (Full article...)

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