Hume, John
December 1979
Foreign Affairs;Winter79/80, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p300
This article discusses the involvement of Great Britain on the conflict in Northern Ireland. The current cycle of conflict in Northern Ireland began over eleven years ago. Northern Ireland is a divided community, divided not by theological differences but by conflicting nationalist aspirations. The Unionist majority historically favor maintenance of the union with Britain while the one-third Catholic nationalist minority by and large favor a united Ireland. The British guarantee as it is called, proved to be a guarantee of permanent exclusive power to one side, the Unionists, and a guarantee of permanent exclusion from power to the other, the Catholic minority. The many attempts at reform in which so much British as well as Irish energy was invested, all failed. The one initiative that almost succeeded was the Sunningdale Arrangement of 1973 between the British and Irish governments and the principal parties in Northern Ireland. This established a power-sharing government containing representatives of both sections of the community in Northern Ireland and accepted the principle of a Council of Ireland which would provide a forum for north-south cooperation as well as a means of expression for the Irish nationalist aspiration while Northern Ireland would continue to be a part of the Great Britain. The politics of Northern Ireland have not yet recovered from that setback, and, because of it, the problem for the British is even greater today than it was in 1973.


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