The Irish Republic and the Troubles Up North (1940-present)
The Irish Civil War drove a wedge between opponents on both sides of political spectrum, and created many of the political factions and parties that are active today in the Irish Republic. Tensions gradually eased, and in 1948, the Irish Free State became a republic independent of the U.K.
The Republic of Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955, and joined the European Union (then the EEC) in 1973. Strong government planning efforts, combined with incentives for bringing multinational export companies to Ireland, have led to consistent rates of growth in economic production since the 1990s.
Northern Ireland has not fared nearly so well, being the site of violent civil unrest since the 1960s. Protestants outnumbered Catholics in the North, with Catholics possessing virtually zero say in how they were governed. Catholics organized civil rights protests, which exploded into riots and violence involving Protestant opponents. From the late sixties to the mid-1990s, Northern Ireland endured “the Troubles,” protracted guerrilla warfare between armed paramilitary forces and troops brought in to control them, including the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Armed Catholic separatists, members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), provided the opposition to government troops, and nearly 4,000 people were killed in the vicious cycle of shootouts, bombings, reprisals and escalations.
In 1998, the historic Belfast Agreement was signed, bringing a peace accord to Northern Ireland and an end to the Troubles once and for all. More than 94% of voters in the Republic of Ireland approved the agreement, with 71% of Northern Ireland citizens voting for ratification. Today, Nationalist and Unionist politicians share power in the government of Northern Ireland.
Article Series: A Brief History of Ireland
Part 1 Beginnings (Prehistory to 300 A.D.)
Part 2 Christians, Vikings and Brian Boru (300-1100)
Part 3 The Bloody British (1100-1700)
Part 4 Punishment and Starvation (1700-1850)
Part 5 Strides Toward Independence (1850-1940)
Part 6 The Irish Republic and the Troubles Up North (1940 to present)