Why Did Northern Ireland Descend Into 'the Troubles' from 1963 to 1968?

1434 Words6 Pages
Why did Northern Ireland descend into ‘The Troubles’ from 1963 to 1968? In 1968, ‘The Troubles’ began after police brutally attacked a civil rights march through Derry, proving to be the catalyst for many years of violence to come. There were many reasons behind this descent; nationalists vs. unionists, the formation of NICRA, unionist’s fear of losing independence and Terence O’Neill’s role in government. All factors had huge influence in the Irish descent however the most important reason is nationalist discrimination, as ultimately the reason for the outbreak of violence is due to the nationalist/unionist divide in Northern Ireland that stems back to 1921, but it is only until the 1960s that nationalists have the chance to end the discrimination. Previous governments allowed such a situation to arise where the 35% catholic population in Northern Ireland had been frozen out and discriminated by unionists. Gerrymandering ensured largely catholic areas (such as Derry) were controlled; meaning unionists had complete control of the country. Prime Ministers legitimised the endemic sectarianism of the unionist regime ‘not a Catholic about the place’ Lord Brookeborough, ‘a protestant parliament for protestant people’ Sir James Craig. In 1963, 300 families were on waiting lists and a Catholic family hadn’t had a permanent home for over 34 years. This shows the extent of discrimination within the country. However, British post-war welfare state and the increased educational opportunities offered by the 1947 Education Act meant that by the 1960s there was a new generation of Catholics who were better educated than their parents. This is fundamentally important as these Catholics were no longer prepared to accept second-class status and demanded a bigger role in society. This now motivated and aspirant Catholic elite was to eventually become the civil rights
Open Document