United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)


Conflict Summary

Differences between nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland have given rise to a prolonged conflict, which has drawn in a variety of mediators. While the predominantly Protestant unionist population wants to maintain the sovereign union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the predominantly Catholic nationalist population seeks unification with the Republic of Ireland. The polarisation of these two communities led to inter-communal violence in 1969. For more than two decades, constant attacks by the paramilitary nationalist Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) stultified civil society in Northern Ireland. Both sides called ceasefires in 1994, but it was not until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998 that an acceptable blueprint was formulated. A power sharing agreement was suspended in 2002, but renewed and reinforced on 26 March 2007. This was widely seen as an historic moment, as the IRA and unionist forces pledged commitment to a political path. From 2009 to 2012, however, it has become clear that the conflict is not yet over, as several dissident splinter groups have begun to assert themselves with a string of car bomb and pipe bomb attacks, mostly against security forces, in addition to protests and assassinations. As these groups have become more active and potentially more lethal, terrorism in Northern Ireland has once again risen as a priority in Belfast and London.