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Assess the relative importance of religion and of national identity as factors in the Northern Ireland problem.
Edwards Reading Lijphart. The conflict is a self determination conflict spanning two states. His concept of grand coalition has been edited to fit the NI case. Its important to remeber that social and politcal identities are not static and can be and are multidimensional. Northern Ireland, A Manageable Conflict? Deals with the urgency in Northern Ireland, and particularly among the political elite to commit to compromise. The paper argues that the urgency does not exist to arrive at a compromise. 1 it is a small conflict, in relative terms it isn't a small conflict. He argues that it is wrong to think in relative terms however. On the other hand the Northern Ireland conflict had recieved, arguably, a disproportionate amount of media coverage realtive to conflicts of a similar size. Perhaps this is because its geographical position in the western world made the conflict harder to ignore. The distibution of fatalities has also varied widely, with area of Belfast having a significantly higher proportion of deaths relative to other areas. The paper agues that only very specific cohorts of people could be considered 'at risk' in the conflict. Because it is a smal conflict there is little pressure on politicians to settlement Introduction: When looking at the Northern Ireland conflict and how it has evolved, it quickly becomes obvious that religious divisions have had a central role in the political conflict. While the conflict was never a holy war, religious divisions have been very closely associated with divisions of national identity within Northern Irish society and have played a major role in the consolitdation of Northern Ireland as a deeply divided society, with very few of its choosing not to come down on one side or another in the cleavage. Mitchell describes the relationship that exists between religion and politics in Northern Ireland as 'complicated, controversial and many find it unsettling'(mitchell) Mitchell however, also goes on to say that the conflict is about religion is not suffient to explain deeper divisions. Throughout the course of this essay I hope to discuss the importance of religion and national identities in Northern Ireland and the extent to which they contribute to the problem. I will also briefly discuss some other factors that could be considered to be contributors to the problem in Northern Ireland. Firstly I would like to discuss the role the Catholic and Protestant Churches, and in the case of the latter Paisley's FPCU in particular. The approach will attempt to examine thier roles in a more
Education In terms of the development of identities the most critical stage in a person's development of an identity is in their youth. and has helped the man and his party become an uncompromising and immovable force. a gap becomes clear – the DUP appeal strongly to voters outside of Paisley's church also. and more specifically during the years of their education. naturally the moral teachings of the Catholic church are likely to be more compatable with some political parties than others.9% had advised a congregation to vote in a particular manner and according to Gaughan's review of McElroy's work. The support from both the Catholic church and the protestant churches for the abolition of the these types of schools is unlikely to be forthcoming. One of the trademark charactaristics of the DUP is their glorification of the past and the way in which they speak of it so nostalgically. The educational system in northern Ireland that has existed for so many years has been an extremely important factor in the creation and the consolidation of the divide. the DUP have represented hard right unionism since its foundation and have consistantly enjoyed the bulk of unionist for many years. This however cannot be applied to the Northern Ireland problem. naturally it could be viewed by one as conceding ground to the other. Paisley.formal manner. This works well for Paisley because the Ulster of yester-year was a place in which religion played a more dominent role. there are very few inconsistencies in the standpoint of the party and one can almost always be sure of the party's line on certain issues. Paisley was given the nickname 'Dr. No' because of his uncompromising position on so many issues. In the case of the Catholic church. While there was little direct involvement found. religious divisions have only served to deepen the divide that could exist otherwise. Bruce attributes the appeal to Paisley's unflinching purpose and the capacity of the DUP to speak on the same frequency. This also play a role in the creation of two independant social networks for the children as they grow into young adults and will likely have a bearing on the social circles that they move within for the remainder of their lives. and when they become rational they do not need religion as explaination. When comparing the number of members of Paisley's church to the support his party gets. Bruce in his examination of the impact that Paisley's religion has had on the man's own behaviour and the electoral impact it has had suggests that neither is a means to an end for the other (BRUCE). the first and most obvious instance of direct involvement in the Northern Ireland conflict that springs to mind was the peace-keeping role that Catholic priests assumed in protest marches . this was indicative of a wider pattern of behaviour among priests on the whole island of Ireland to avoid party politics(Gaughan line 342). People can be both religious and modern' citics of this would say that when people become modern. one where pupils are taught in the protestant tradition and another where pupils are taught in the catholic tradition. Paisley and the DUP Paisley and his party. She suggests that the link between identity . McElroy points out that in his own study of Catholic priests he found that only 3. they become rational. the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church provide an interesting topic of discussion within the Northern Ireland problem because of the fashion in which Paisley has married both religion and Politics. In this regard Paisley's sense of purpose has had positive implications for his party's cohesion. Another implication of this however is the stark lack of compromise that existed for so long in Northern Irish political culture. Certainly on the Unionist side of the divide there would appear to be a top down connection between Paisley's church and political power. Bruce goes on to argue that because Paisley believes that he has divine guidance that he does not have to play politics with the same deck of cards that other political actors do. this has implications for identification and creation of a very closed off party that does not seek support outside of a hard status quo support base. There exists a stream of two school systems. This plays a role in the creation of an identity for the pupils that is exclusively catholic-nationalist or protestant-unionist.
Mitchell discusses the idea of religious symbolism as a marker of social difference and says that religion is a boundary marker in determination of in groups and out groups. It is hard to envisage a Northern Ireland in the near future where elections would be fought on social and economic issues. “Northern Ireland: a manageable conflict”. Politics and Identity in Northern Ireland: Belonging and Belief. 81(323): 342 – 344. Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland. J. When viewed as a class conflict Northern Ireland has not only a vertical divide between nationalists and unionists but also a horizontal one(a man conf. The profile of loyalist paramilitaries are different now to a previous generation of loyalist paramilitaries.and religion lies in the cultural pool that religion provides for people to select aspects of their identities from. McElroy. Bibliography Bruce. Some scholarship tends to play down the role that soical inequality has played. The current generation of working class protestants see themselves as losing out in different ways to their previous generation. 15 (1994): . Gaughan. G. Religion as playing a minor role and only serves to reinforce and structure political relationships. “The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1968-86 by Gerald McElroy”. Some commentators on the problem in Northern Ireland point out that there is a cohort within both communities that are more likely to be the instigators of and the subjects of violence. On each side of the social cleavage people the people attend their respective churches and move within the same social circles. Religion. because as a demogrphic of people they are the least likely to be subjected to violence. so economic status need not necessarily act as an indicator of ones standpoint on the Northern Ireland question. Hants: Ashgate. A. that the Catholic community have successfully put in place mechanisms to counter deprivation. The protestant working class hadn't minded being at the bottom of the protestant heap as long as they had a better standing economically than their Catholic counterparts – it had helped to reinforce beliefs of an ascension class. C. The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1968-86. Conclusion The role religion has to play in the Northern Ireland problem is significant. 1991. Religion has a reinforcing affect on the divide. and where individuals would vote along these lines without first considering which side of a cleavage they feel obliged to come down on. 2007. Within Northern Ireland there is also a class divide on both sides of the conflict. Mitchell. However it is by no means a stand alone cause of the problem. Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. The role religion plays is as a reinforcing one that has hardened the divide between both communities and has had a role in consolidating effect on some of the prexisting social issues that are causing the problems. **** points out that the areas of greatest deprivation are also the areas of greatest violence (a manageable conflict 33). While there is a vertical division between Catholics and Protestans there is also a horizontal divide between the poorer classes and the middle classes. As long as the middle classes remained safe there would never be a solution to the problem. O’Malley. Based on the anicdotal evidence provided in *** accounts on the Osphal committee there is also lack real hunger for a solution among the middle classes. Oxford: University Press. O'Malley says however. 33). Dublin: Gill and MacMillen. P. 2006. Irish Review. and this feeds nicely into O'Malley's overall argument that the problem would have to get worse in order to stoke up the most influential classes in politics to seek out conflict resolution from their elected representatives. S.
14–39. “The Northern Ireland problem”. . A. British Journal of Political Science 5(1): 83–106. Lijphart.
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