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PARTITION

One result of the 1916 rising was the willingness of Irish Republicans to take up arms in defence of the Republic. Following the nationalists victories in the 1918 parliamentary elections and their subsequent declaration of independence from British rule in January 1919, the War of Independence broke out.

The Government of Ireland Act 1920, partitioned Ireland into two separate Home Rule institutions – one for Northern Ireland and one for the remainder of the island. However, the Home Rule parliament in Southern Ireland failed to function.

When a truce in the War of Independence was declared in July 1921, there followed detailed and often long drawn out negotiations between the British and Irish representatives, resulting in the Anglo Irish Treaty. On 6th December 1922 this treaty established Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland as independent self-governing states. The following day however, Northern Ireland’s parliament opted to remain as part of the United Kingdom. At this time, Northern Ireland was populated and governed predominantly by protestant’s, loyal to the crown and they did not wish to be dictated to by the Oireachtas (the Parliament of the Irish Free State). In 1948 the Irish Free State became ‘The Republic of Ireland’.

The partition of the 6 counties of Northern Ireland and the 26 counties of the Irish Republic resulted in many years of turmoil between North and South, between those Irish who wanted a United Island of Ireland and Unionists who wished to stay loyal to the United Kingdom.

The 1998 Peace Agreement was ratified by two referendums in both parts of Ireland, including an acceptance by the Republic that its claim to Northern Ireland would only be achieved by persuasion and peaceful means. This was an important part of the Northern Ireland peace process that has been under way since 1993. Whilst the geographical split still exists today, relations between North and South are now peaceful.

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