Unionism (Ireland)

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Unionism is a term for the ideology that the island of Ireland or today mostly only Northern Ireland should continue to belong to the United Kingdom . Although the conflicts over Irish independence and the Northern Ireland conflict are often viewed as a Catholic-Protestant conflict, the causes also lie in other historical contexts . The ideology opposite to unionism is Irish nationalism or Irish republicanism , which seeks to unite the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland outside the UK.

Terminology and relation to religion

Belonging to the Republic of Ireland

Irish nationalism today has existed since the 19th century. Most Irish nationalists are Catholics. You are fighting for a united Ireland that preserves or revives its culture and language. As Irish republicanism a radicalized flow is referred to generally, which calls for the complete separation of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and supports this demand by force of arms. The Irish ruling party Fianna Fáil , according to its own statement, represents a moderate, i.e. non-violent, Irish republicanism and is also known as "The Republican Party".

UK affiliation

Unionists demand belonging to Great Britain and a representation of Protestant interests, but also British values ​​and mostly the monarchy. The unionists also mostly demand the use of the Union Jack . Analogous to the Irish Republicans, loyalism represents a radical current of unionism, which originally described loyalty to the British Crown.

Common history of England and Ireland

Conquering and incorporating Ireland

When England invaded Ireland in the twelfth century, Ireland came under English rule as the Lordship of Ireland . During the rule of England over Ireland, however, only the Irish princes were exchanged, so the composition of the population hardly changed, and the rule was not consistently enforced from the start. From 1541 the lordship to the Kingdom of Ireland and ruled by the English monarchs in personal union. However, there was always Irish resistance to English and later British rule.

Finally, with the Act of Union 1800, a unification to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented.

Further conflicts, independence of (Southern) Ireland and Northern Ireland conflict

The conflict between the English / British and Irish was further fueled by the Plantations (settlement of English and Scottish farmers in Ireland). From the Middle Ages there was an Irish Parliament , which, however, could not be elected by the original Irish population and was subordinate to the Anglo-British Parliament by Poynings' Law since 1494. With the Act of Union of 1800, the Irish Parliament was dissolved.

The Great Famine in Ireland from 1845, which caused many Irish people to die or emigrate, was barely combated by the British government, which encouraged Ireland's aspirations for independence. After the Easter Rising in 1916 and a war of independence , which was a kind of guerrilla war by the IRA , the south of the island of Ireland became a quasi-independent Dominion in the Commonwealth in 1922 . However, some parts of the IRA rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty and continued their fighting in the south of Ireland, which led to the fierce civil war in the newly independent Irish Free State (1922–1923). Even after the defeat in the civil war, the remnants of the IRA continued to carry out attacks in the Free State and in Great Britain until the late 1930s. It was not until the 1940s that Northern Ireland and thus the abolition of the Irish division came to the fore as a main political issue within the IRA. Now the IRA renounced attacks in the south and Great Britain and directed all its energy against Northern Ireland.

The social and political problems in Northern Ireland worsened into the so-called Northern Ireland conflict , which lasted from 1969 to 1998. On April 10, 1998, the main conflicting parties signed a ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

Political parties and paramilitary organizations

In what is now the United Kingdom, Northern Irish unionism is represented by the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party , the latter of which is considered to be moderate. There is also the Progressive Unionist Party , which has connections to the UVF. There is also the Traditional Unionist Voice .

Republican parties are e.g. B. the Sinn Féin, the Republican Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), each of which is closely associated with paramilitary organizations. The moderate Social Democratic and Labor Party , which seeks unification with the Republic of Ireland without the use of force, is considered republican or nationalist. The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland sees itself as a non-denominational party.

In the Northern Ireland conflict there were various radical paramilitary groups on both the unionist and nationalist sides. The radical unionists are also called loyalists. These are primarily the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). On the Republican side, these are the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) and other groups that emerged from these two organizations, such as the Irish National Liberation Army or the Real Irish Republican Army and the Continuity Irish Republican Army .

Individual evidence

  1. English article about nationalists and unionists on ( Memento of July 9, 2001 in the Internet Archive ) www.ul.ie (PDF)
  2. a b c d e Master's thesis on Northern Ireland with terminology on Googlebooks
  3. To the flag problem