Northern Ireland: Conflict Profile

Northern Ireland was the location for an extended armed conflict, known locally as ‘the Troubles’, which lasted from 1969 until 1998 and led to the deaths of 3,600 people.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland

The conflict in Northern Ireland has been driven by conflict over the political status of the region and the competing claims and aspirations of the two main communities. The Protestant community generally favours the political union with Great Britain. They regard themselves as British citizens and define themselves politically as Unionists. Hardline unionists are known as Loyalists since they proclaim loyalty to the British monarchy. The Catholic community generally favours the creation of a single united Irish state. They regard themselves as Irish people and define themselves politically as Nationalists. Hardline Nationalists are known as Republicans since they strive for a United Irish Republic.

A protracted multi-party ‘peace process’ resulted in a peace agreement, signed on Good Friday 1998, leading to the creation of a range of new political and human rights institutions and eventually in 2007 the formation of a devolved government that included the four main political parties. The transition from a society enmeshed in a long-running violent conflict to a largely peaceful society has ensured that the Northern Ireland peace process is widely regarded as one of the major successes of recent peacebuilding activity and a model for other conflict transformation work.

Residential areas can often be identified as predominantly Nationalist or Unionist by their political murals - in this case, from the Nationalist Falls Road. Thanks to jimmyharris. Uploaded under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Image by jimmyharris published under a creative commons license

Residential areas can often be identified as predominantly Nationalist or Unionist by their political murals – in this case, from the Nationalist Falls Road.

Last updated: March 2013. Background information published on Insight on Conflict is compiled by volunteer researchers and does not reflect the opinions of Peace Direct. For information on how you can contribute to this site, please contact us.