I’m from there and I would like to clarify… in 1886 it is true that in the whole island it was a case of a “Catholic majority, poor and working class, and a rich Protestant minority”, but today this is not the situation in Northern Ireland: within the Northern Ireland borders there is a Protestant majority, and I am mostly in agreement with what David Barriado says here above: Northern Ireland is a vestige of the British Empire. Moreover, the fact that there is a Protestant majority -which is to say, loyal to the British State – is the result of its initial design, and as such its “religious-social ghettos” are a near inevitable product of this design.
In Northern Ireland there is a practice that can also be perceived in Israel/Palestine, according to which each group within that society (whether Jews or Arabs in Israel/Palestine, or Catholics/Protestants in Northern Ireland) is portrayed as decent and peace-loving, but tragically mired in the violence unleashed by a few people on both sides.
The most important effect of this practice is to hide the character and the role of the State in each situation and present “the violence” as if it were a sort of virus and not a product of the State. But it also produces songs such as Sunday Bloody Sunday.
An example: the UK government declared, before the Good Friday Agreement was signed, that it had no ‘selfish strategic’ interest in Northern Ireland. However, in recent years the British government has built, in Belfast, a new military intelligence headquarters – for the whole of the United Kingdom. Its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and the demonisation of Muslims that has accompanied these wars has also raised social tensions in Northern Ireland, through the process of legitimating the extreme violence of the British State against its official enemies. It should be no surprise, then, that the most ‘loyal’ citizens in Northern Ireland should interpret this behaviour of the State as an excuse and a justification for taking out their frustrations (which are real and serious) on the sector of the population that identifies itself as Irish.
Hugh Green lives in Ireland, and writes about things when the spirit moves him. E-mail him: hughgreen1789-at-gmail-dot-com. This was originally published at his blog, The Punishment of Sloth.