Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

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Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:18 am

Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Despite ongoing sectarian tension in Northern Ireland, violence has recently seemed a thing of the past. Until Monday night, when a group of Protestants began attacking homes belonging to Catholics. Two nights of rioting have left several wounded and many wondering what is next.

There are walls everywhere in Belfast. They criss-cross residential districts, they cut off roads and they abut backyards. Known officially as "peace lines," they are not designed to keep people in or out. Rather, they are there to keep Catholics and Protestants in the city separated. And for almost a decade, they have been -- at least to the casual observer -- remarkably successful.

Until this week.

Tuesday night saw the second straight night of rioting in east Belfast in what some are calling the worst flare-up of sectarian violence in the area in a decade. Police say 700 people took part in the melee on Tuesday night with police coming under a barrage of Molotov cocktails and other projectiles. Several shots were also fired and a photojournalist was hit by a bullet in the leg. A local politician told the BBC that another man suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a brick.

There were also gunshots fired during clashes on Monday night. Police are investigating the incident as an attempted murder. Some 500 people were thought to have taken part in the Monday night riots. Officials say the unrest started when masked members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a Protestant paramilitary group, attacked Catholic homes with bricks and fireworks.

The UVF, which declared an end to its armed campaign in 2007, was among the most violent loyalist groups fighting to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. For almost 30 years beginning in the late 1960s -- a period known simply as "The Troubles" -- the loyalists fought an ongoing battle against the largely Catholic republicans, who wanted a reduced British role in Northern Ireland.

Simmering Tension

The two sides declared a ceasefire in 1994 and that was followed by a political pact known as the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Violence, though, has sporadically continued. Indeed, 2002 saw an eruption of street fighting that rivalled that during even the worst of the Troubles. Tension has simmered since.

"There are often sporadic bits of trouble which are so relatively small that they often go unreported by the media," Neil Jarman, from the Institute for Conflict Research at the University of Ulster, told the BBC. "But they are the source of significant tension in the area and can lead to something much worse, like we've seen in the last 24 hours."

Many had thought that the visit to Ireland last month by Queen Elizabeth II could serve to further reduce tensions in Northern Ireland, particularly given her numerous gestures of reconciliation. Now, however, officials and police are preparing for the worst. There are still three weeks to go before annual July 12 Protestant marches across Northern Ireland, a high point of the marching season, which is traditionally a time full of sectarian tension.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:18 am


Matt, what's your opinion on the Northern Ireland conflict?
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:03 am

I disagree with the statement in the first paragraph for starters. It has never been 'a thing of the past', despite that this seems to be the image that the American right wing media may want to present. The thing is, I doubt anybody outside of the UK heard about the individual sectarian murders or the contract killings - as Neil Jarman pointed out these are generally too small to be considered of interest to the international media. I guess also that they never heard about the abuse that groups of children had hurled at them by adults of the 'other side' for going through the 'wrong area' to their schools. No, let's just sweep that under the carpet because as we know, only Muslims are violent and Christian sectarianism rarely goes above shouting and the occasional punch up ans afterwards they shake hands and agree never again to take Jesus' name in vain.

As the ongoing violence has shown, it doesn't need to be started by the mainstream paramilitaries to open it all up again. It is widely acknowledged that the Republican and Loyalist violence has been by splinter groups who objected to the IRA and UVF ceasefires.

We may attempt to foster the idea that this is political, and of course there are political reasons but had the issue have been between two Protestant or two Catholic nations I doubt it would have gone on for over 400 years.

At this rate the Orange Marches in July will no doubt end in a bloodbath.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by TexasBlue on Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:40 pm

despite that this seems to be the image that the American right wing media may want to present.

There's no basis for this statement. None of media here covers the Ireland violence like they did in the early 80's. Or was it the late 70's?

As it is, I'm perplexed by this because here in the USA, there is no violence between religions. Everybody goes to the church or mosque that they please and nothing is amiss. After that, they go home and drink beer. Big Grin
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:53 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:I disagree with the statement in the first paragraph for starters. It has never been 'a thing of the past', despite that this seems to be the image that the American right wing media may want to present. The thing is, I doubt anybody outside of the UK heard about the individual sectarian murders or the contract killings - as Neil Jarman pointed out these are generally too small to be considered of interest to the international media. I guess also that they never heard about the abuse that groups of children had hurled at them by adults of the 'other side' for going through the 'wrong area' to their schools. No, let's just sweep that under the carpet because as we know, only Muslims are violent and Christian sectarianism rarely goes above shouting and the occasional punch up ans afterwards they shake hands and agree never again to take Jesus' name in vain.

As the ongoing violence has shown, it doesn't need to be started by the mainstream paramilitaries to open it all up again. It is widely acknowledged that the Republican and Loyalist violence has been by splinter groups who objected to the IRA and UVF ceasefires.

We may attempt to foster the idea that this is political, and of course there are political reasons but had the issue have been between two Protestant or two Catholic nations I doubt it would have gone on for over 400 years.

At this rate the Orange Marches in July will no doubt end in a bloodbath.

This was actually from a German newspaper. It's the same one I always post articles from.

I do believe it is more of a religious than political conflict, but I also think that religion itself has nothing to do with it anymore. The fact that it is just 2 groups that have a history of not liking each other is enough, the fact that they're 2 different religions became irrelevant some time ago. Whenever people are grouped into a category, they tend to stand by that category and their group and it's easy to spark violence between that and other groups. Look at the different clans/tribes in the middle east... they're ethnically more or less the same but still don't like each other (some of them, at least). Then there are the different street gangs all around the world who only dislike each other because of a difference in colors they wear or the neighborhood they grew up in. Then there are countries. The Chinese and the Taiwanese are ethnically the same yet they still don't like each other much (at least the governments don't).
I think there's a point where it's not a matter of what the initial conflict was about, but about what group you belong to and how loyal you feel to that group.

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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by TexasBlue on Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:25 pm

BubbleBliss wrote:I do believe it is more of a religious than political conflict, but I also think that religion itself has nothing to do with it anymore. The fact that it is just 2 groups that have a history of not liking each other is enough, the fact that they're 2 different religions became irrelevant some time ago. Whenever people are grouped into a category, they tend to stand by that category and their group and it's easy to spark violence between that and other groups. Look at the different clans/tribes in the middle east... they're ethnically more or less the same but still don't like each other (some of them, at least). Then there are the different street gangs all around the world who only dislike each other because of a difference in colors they wear or the neighborhood they grew up in. Then there are countries. The Chinese and the Taiwanese are ethnically the same yet they still don't like each other much (at least the governments don't).
I think there's a point where it's not a matter of what the initial conflict was about, but about what group you belong to and how loyal you feel to that group.

That may be so in this case. I dunno because I'm not there. Matt is close enough to know more than any of us.

Overall, religion has a way of making people hate. We've gotten past that for the most part as far as inter-religion matters go. The Islam thing is still questionable here in the USA amongst the religious folks here. But that broadens out to non-religious people as an ethnic type of dislike or hate, depending on how one is.

Yeah, the Shiites and Sunnis don't really like each other even though it's not much different than the Catholics and Protestants hating one another.

Personally, I think it's all stupid.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:55 pm

TexasBlue wrote:
despite that this seems to be the image that the American right wing media may want to present.

There's no basis for this statement. None of media here covers the Ireland violence like they did in the early 80's. Or was it the late 70's?

As it is, I'm perplexed by this because here in the USA, there is no violence between religions. Everybody goes to the church or mosque that they please and nothing is amiss. After that, they go home and drink beer. Big Grin
I'm really only thinking back to when the issue came up "next door". I always seemed to get this impression from you and dbl and other conservatives that you believe(d) that the sectarian violence in NI was all water under the bridge.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by TexasBlue on Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:58 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:I'm really only thinking back to when the issue came up "next door". I always seemed to get this impression from you and dbl and other conservatives that you believe(d) that the sectarian violence in NI was all water under the bridge.

I honestly don't remember even debating the issue over there. Maybe you and Dbl did (or another conservative).

Nothing makes news over here unless hundreds are getting slaughtered. Then the media picks up on it (and that's all the media here).
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:11 pm

BubbleBliss wrote:I do believe it is more of a religious than political conflict, but I also think that religion itself has nothing to do with it anymore. The fact that it is just 2 groups that have a history of not liking each other is enough, the fact that they're 2 different religions became irrelevant some time ago.
On the contrary, the Orange Marches (which begin next month) are a celebration of the Battle of the Boyne where an army of Irish mercenaries and nobles attempted to restore (Catholic) James II to the throne of Scotland and England. His opponent - the new (Protestant) King William III (William of Orange) won. For a refresher on why this is important, refer back to my thread on The English Bill of Rights.

Religious leaders on both sides not only encouraged this behaviour, but in some cases were actively involved. The most famous is Reverend Ian Paisley; many Catholic priests were jailed for plotting terrorist attacks or being actively involved in bombings and a few Protestant ministers who encouraged or were involved in the UVF and other paramilitary groups were also jailed.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:14 pm


Oh, ok. I didn't know that priests were actually actively involved. But do you really think that for the kids in the streets who most likely don't even go to church, it's really about religion`?
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:22 pm

How do we know about their church-going habits? Maybe not in a conscious or direct way, but I am sure they are perfectly aware that there is a cultural divide that goes beyond one side wanting an Irish union and the other wanting to remain in the United Kingdom.

Every job application I have filled out in the last couple of years asks (entirely voluntary applicant diversity surveys) for applicants in Northern Ireland "even if you consider yourself to have no religion, from which religious background to you consider yourself to be "Protestant / Catholic" after "please select your religion:" so this really runs deep in NI, even if it does so unconsciously.

When it really comes down to it, the Republic of Ireland is probably the most religious country in the EU. The Unionists have no desire to surrender their political affiliation for the Protestant United Kingdom to Catholic Eire and vice versa.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:27 pm


Man, it really does run deep in NI then. And I though Bavaria was tough with other religions when it came to job interviews and stuff...
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by dblboggie on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:28 pm

Wow! That's amazing! You cannot even broach the subject of religion in any job interview here in the US - unless you're applying to a church - and even then, unless it was a synagogue, mosque or a Catholic church, you'd likely not be asked.

I had no idea that such things still existed in the UK or Europe.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by BubbleBliss on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:39 pm


You're likely to be asked about your religion when applying for a teaching position at a christian school. I've seen that when my ex-girlfriend's mom worked at a school like that. Though I don't think it's on the job application, they'll certainly want to know your religion.... or how much you drink on a daily basis.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:50 pm

dblboggie wrote:Wow! That's amazing! You cannot even broach the subject of religion in any job interview here in the US - unless you're applying to a church - and even then, unless it was a synagogue, mosque or a Catholic church, you'd likely not be asked.

I had no idea that such things still existed in the UK or Europe.
As I said it is voluntary and for monitoring purposes only. The person selecting candidates for interview, doing the interview and offering the job will never see them. That way they can't be accused of refusing to employ somebody on the basis of their nationality, religion or ethnic background.
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Re: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Post by dblboggie on Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:53 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Wow! That's amazing! You cannot even broach the subject of religion in any job interview here in the US - unless you're applying to a church - and even then, unless it was a synagogue, mosque or a Catholic church, you'd likely not be asked.

I had no idea that such things still existed in the UK or Europe.
As I said it is voluntary and for monitoring purposes only. The person selecting candidates for interview, doing the interview and offering the job will never see them. That way they can't be accused of refusing to employ somebody on the basis of their nationality, religion or ethnic background.

Ah... okay. I can see that. I just couldn't wrap my wits around that being a factor for consideration for employment in the UK.
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