The History of the IRA Essay

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Northern Ireland has been plagued by bloody and virtually ceaseless violence for the better part of the last hundred years. The conflict in Northern Ireland is a combination of religious strife between Catholics and Protestants, nationalism versus colonialism and a search for a true Irish identity that has been elusive since the colonization of Ireland in 1603. Republicans in Ireland seek a unified Ireland, one that is free from the imperialistic hands of the British crown. In hopes of achieving this goal, the Irish Republican Army has waged a violent and bloody campaign against both Protestant unionists in the North and the English themselves. From 1920 until 1998 the IRA methods of terror instilled fear in the people of Northern …show more content…
This zero-sum game of political violence is what brought about the two peace efforts prior to 1998, but it is necessary to explore the events that lead up to the need for peace, and answer the question of why they collapsed.

In 1916 Patrick Pearse ignited the flame of the republican movement. On April 24, 1916, Pearse and his supporters rallied in Dublin and declared Ireland an independent and sovereign state, free from British rule. His vision of a free Irish Republic unleashed a wave of nationalism that escalated when the leaders of what would be known as the Easter Rising were arrested and executed. The Sinn Fein (the political wing of the republican movement) based their political agenda around achieving this goal and adopted the idea of Ireland as a sovereign and independent republic. In 1918 the Sinn Fein boycotted the seats they had won in the Irish wing of the Westminster parliament, expressing that they did not believe in a foreign parliament guiding Irish interests. Instead, they formed the Assembly of Ireland in Dublin, and took an oath of allegiance to the Republic. What Pearse had started in 1916 festered over the next three years and came to a head as the first shots of the Anglo-Irish War were fired on January 21, 1919. This is the point in history when the republican movement first adopted violence as a means of achieving its…