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Provisional Irish Republican Army

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BrianAnderson Posted: Sun, Jun 27 2010 12:11 AM

The goal of the IRA is to remove North Ireland from control of the United Kingdom so that Ireland can be a united nation again.

I was asking a friend of mine who's Irish, and he said that he also believes Northern Ireland should be a part of a united Ireland again.

However, it's hard for me to understand how Northern Ireland came to be under the power of the United Kingdom. Groups like La Raza still insist that many of our southwestern states belong to Mexico and that they were somehow stolen by the United States, even though we acquired many of them after war, some even with compensation.

This may sound completely ignorant, and I'm in no way condoning the violence of the IRA, but do they have any reason/logic in their desire?

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The History of Northern Ireland is quite complex but essentially it began in the 1600s when the British State thought that colonising Northern Ireland with Protestants would keep the rebellious Catholic Irish in check.  The Catholics were forced off their land and Protestants were invited to settle there and received a great deal of privileges that were denied to them by the state.

After partion in the 1920s, Home rule was granted to Northern Ireland and the Protestants essentially gerrymandered the constitution to ensure a perpetual protestant ascendency in political and economic matters. The catholics were essentially disarmed and disenfranchised and any opposition from the catholics were repressed by howling protestant mobs who seemed to be egged on by the establishment.

The IRA began in the early 1970s following another round of communal violence as catholics were attacked and in some cases burned out of their homes. The provo's defended the Catholic community against the protestant mobs and the protestant dominated state and security forces. When the British government finally brought in troops to quell the violence their policies were biased against the catholics. e.g. internment without trial was introduced for IRA suspects and not the loyalist UVF. This heavy handedness by British Soldiers led to the shooting dead of 14 innocent civilians in 1972 in what is known as Bloody Sunday.  Most IRA members were recruited because of their personal experiences. i.e. Bobby Sands perhaps the most famous member of the IRA who died on hunger strike in the Maze Prison was a teenager when himself and his family were burnt out of their homes by protestant mobs.

This was the background in which the IRA was formed. The IRA faced the overwhelming problem that the majority of Northern Ireland are loyalists who do not want to be part of a United Ireland. Yet the IRA spent the best part of 30 years trying to force loyalists into a union with Ireland, until they finally gave up and agreed to share power with the Protestant majority in 1997.

Northern Ireland can best be summed as a low-intensity civil war between the Loyalist and Nationalist community over who is the boss in Northern Ireland with the British governments interventions making the problem even worse. 

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