The conflict in Northern Ireland is likely one of the most closely watched and hotly debated disputes of our time. Spanning now for over a century, what remains at the root of the conflict is unclear. Many theories have developed over time, yet no one theory seems to adequately describe the complex struggle. The conflict has been divided down many lines; ethnically between the British and the Irish, geographically, between the North and the South of Ireland, and religiously between Protestants and Catholics. Theories that have emerged have pointed to causes such as land claims and a nationalist ideology, ethnicity and culture, and perhaps most frequently, religion when attempting to define the conflict. In fact, what is more likely is that elements of all of these issues lie at the root of what is commonly referred to as "The Troubles".
The history of this contemporary conflict is detailed, but impossible to ignore.
While different factions of the dispute would argue that the problem began centuries ago, I will examine briefly the history of the "troubles" from the end of the 19th century forward. For much of its history, Ireland has lived under British rule. As the 19th century drew to a close, Britain became aware of a rapidly growing sense of Irish Nationalism. In 1870, the Irish Protestants placed the notion of Home Rule on the front burner in an attempt to separate Ireland from the rapid secularism that was occurring in Britain. Very quickly the movement was picked up by Irish Catholics who saw Home Rule as a truly nationalist ideal, and by 1874 they had dominated the movement. This pushed the Protestants back towards Unionism and was one of the many strikes against the idea of a united Ireland.
Feeling tremendous pressure to grant Ireland Home Rule,