Territorial disputes: Northern Ireland (Part 21) [Post 106]

Northern Ireland: When and Where it all Started

In the case of Northern Ireland, the first posts (Posts 86-105) differed from previous analyses presented by this blog series TERRITORIAL DISPUTES. This time the series introduced the relationship between national law and international law. From there, and in light of Brexit, the relationship between the law in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The following posts will cover different views from people at large, politicians and academics in several disciplines such as law, political science, and international relations. We finish this post by including a very succinct background account, a couple of questions to the reader and sources. Today’s blog presents a brief historical account to provide a contextual reference.

Key Dates in Northern Ireland History

What are the roots of the conflict in Northern Ireland? And when did they start? The list of key dates in the history of Northern Ireland below:

  • 1170 Settlers from Britain arrive in Ireland
  • 1608 Plantation of Ulster began
  • 1641 The Catholic-Gaelic rising in response to the Plantation and the confiscation of land by Protestant settlers from England and Scotland
  • 1690 The Battle of the Boyne and the victory of Protestant William III over Catholic James II – this victory is still celebrated in many parades in Northern Ireland
  • 1801 Act of Union which abolished the Irish Parliament and bound Ireland and Britain together as parts of the United Kingdom
  • 1912 Ulster Solemn League and Covenant signed by over 400, 000 Protestants who wanted to remain in the Union
  • 1916 The Easter Rising in Dublin against British rule
  • 1921 A treaty leading to the establishment of an Irish Free State of 26 counties, with the 6 counties of Northern Ireland remaining British
  • 1968 The starting point of the present ‘Troubles’ arising, in part, out of the campaign by Catholics in Northern Ireland for civil rights
  • 1998 The Belfast Agreement (sometimes called the Good Friday Agreement)
  • 1999 The setting up of a power-sharing Assembly in Northern Ireland
  • 2002 Devolution is suspended as power-sharing unravels over IRA allegations
  • 2007 Devolution is restored to Northern Ireland


The Northern Ireland Troubles: INCORE background paper (2009) Link to the complete article

The Creation of Northern Ireland

The Protestant north, fearing becoming a minority in an independent Irish Catholic state, was preparing to resist Home Rule since the 1880s. In 1921 Unionism succeeded in excluding six of the nine counties of Ulster from Home Rule arrangements. The new Northern Ireland six county administration was the largest area that could comfortably be held with a pro-Union majority. It was given its own government with devolved powers but the British Government retained ultimate authority.This had not been a first preference for Unionists in Northern Ireland many of whom saw it as a compromise diluting their position within the Union. Many Nationalists, however, felt isolated and vulnerable within this new Protestant majority state.

The Creation of The Irish Free State

A year later a twenty-six county Irish Free State came into being. The longstanding division between Catholic and Protestant communities had now taken constitutional form. Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State created a new conjunction of majority community with political power. Politics in Northern Ireland under the devolved administration would continue to be dominated by the constitutional question.


Understanding The Northern Ireland Conflict: A Summary And Overview Of The Conflict And Its Origins Link to the complete article

To the reader, following two of our previous posts of this series about TERRITORIAL DISPUTES:

  1. What are the issues at stakes in this a territorial dispute?
  2. Which remedy could be used to solve this particular territorial dispute?

For reference to these questions see:POST 9: Territorial disputes: issues at stakePOST 10: Territorial disputes: remedies


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST:Northern Ireland: official position and impact after Brexit.                   

Monday 25th May 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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