These pages contain summaries of essential topics relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These topic pages have been written and compiled by Alpha History authors.
Background to the Troubles
An introduction to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is a land of tradition, mystique and natural beauty – but many reminders of recent violence and unrest.
Anglo-Irish Relations 1690-1914
The genesis of the Troubles is a long struggle to create an independent Ireland, free from British rule.
The 1916 Easter Rising
At the height of World War I, Nationalists attempted to seize control of Dublin and declare an independent republic.
The Irish War of Independence
In 1919 the Irish Republican Army began a campaign of violence and assassinations to drive the British from Ireland.
The Partition of Ireland
In late 1920 the British carved Ireland into two self governing entities: Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.
Northern Ireland before 1968
The five decades following partition saw Northern Ireland and the South develop and follow different paths.
From rights to riots
The Northern Ireland civil rights movement
In the 1960s a rising movement demanded an end to political and economic discrimination against Catholics.
From civil rights to civil unrest
When the Unionist government attempted to block civil rights protests in 1968, the situation quickly deteriorated.
The Battle of the Bogside
In August 1969 a provocative Loyalist march incited unrest in the Bogside area of Derry, turning it into a battlefield.
The British in Northern Ireland
British troops were deployed in Derry in August 1969 – initially to a warm welcome, though this was not to last.
In 1971 Northern Ireland’s government responded to Republican violence by interning suspected paramilitaries.
Bloody Sunday 1972
Perhaps the defining event of the Troubles was the British Army’s fatal shooting of 14 civilians in Bogside, Derry.
In March 1972 the British government, frustrated by the worsening violence, took control of Northern Ireland.
The Long War
The IRA 1919 to 1968
The IRA was formed from republican militias in 1919, to fight for an independent Ireland free from British rule.
The Provisional IRA
Inspired by the men of 1916, the ‘Provos’ resolved to end British rule by making Northern Ireland ungovernable.
The Official IRA and INLA
Two other Republican paramilitaries emerged after the 1969 split and also struggled for a united Ireland.
The rebirth of the IRA gave rise to paramilitaries on the other side of the political divide.
The Long War
From 1971 until their 1997 ceasefire, IRA operatives attacked British security forces, hoping to drive them from Ireland.
The mainland campaign
In the 1970s the IRA took their war beyond the borders of Ulster, bombing military and civilian targets in England.
The following topic pages are currently in review and will be published in February 2014:
H Block and Hunger Strikes
In the early 1980s the world watched as Irish Republicans in British prisons struggled for political status.
As the Long War claimed hundreds of lives, including scores of civilians, many worked for an end to the killing.
Two agreements tried mending political and sectarian divisions by creating a power-sharing government.
The 1994 Ceasefire
In 1994 the IRA declared a complete ceasefire as a prelude to negotiations – but would this fragile peace last?
The road to peace
In the mid-1990s the peace process gathered speed as several leaders sought to find an end to retaliatory violence.
The Good Friday Agreement
In April 1998 Britain, the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland’s warring groups signed a historical peace agreement.
The Real IRA and Omagh
Not all paramilitaries welcomed the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement or the prospect of power-sharing.
Northern Ireland Today
Today the peace of 1998 continues to hold as Northern Ireland attempts to heal the wounds of the Troubles.