Since the creation of the Republic of Ireland in 1922, the territory of Ireland is divided between two parts. The first one, Northern Ireland, is still taking part of the United Kingdom whereas the Republic of Ireland became an independent state. Since then, there is a constitutional conflict about the legitimacy of Northern Ireland as well as the possibility of united Ireland. In the late 1960s, ‘troubles' broke up in Northern Ireland because of this separation as the ‘Bloody Sunday' in 1972 often stands for with the shooting of 13 civil rights demonstrators by the British troops in Derry. Since then, agreements have been signed and the violence seems to have been reduced. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was supposed to end the NI problem by releasing the prisoners of the IRA as well as putting a peaceful framework for the probability of united Ireland.
Have southern attitudes towards the NI problem changed significantly since this period? Moreover, it can be wondered to what extent southern understanding of the problem is greater. By southern attitudes, it will be referred to the public opinion in the Republic of Ireland as well as to elite's attitudes.
[...] For instance, Organist marches are considered to be a cultural event from a perceived ignorance of NI problem, southern attitudes evolved towards sympathy for the victims of discrimination in NI. Moreover, NI problem could not be ignored anymore with the emergence of violence in NI that affected the Republic of Ireland by a ‘spill over' effect. Nevertheless, public opinion seems to be less and less concerned about the evolution of the partition. Indeed, public opinion has got used to the notion of a 26 county state. [...]
[...] Contacts between both communities if they increased are still weak and southern public opinion is not achieving to understand the complexity of the NI problem. It can be argued that the distance and fear based on the violence that touched the Republic of Ireland prevent its inhabitants from fully understanding the NI problem. Indeed, distrust between both parts of Ireland led to a misunderstanding of each other. Girvin's description of Northern attitude towards the South can be applied to southern attitudes. [...]
[...] Moreover, southern people especially the young generation cannot have the solution to NI problem and do not understand why so many people were killed in the name of an united Ireland and only tried to live their everyday life as normally as they could. Bibliography John Coakley and Michael Gallagher Politics in the Republic of Ireland, 4th ed (Abingdon : Routledge and PSAI Press, 2005), ch 15 Al Cohan, question of a united Ireland : perspectives of the Irish political elite', International Affairs 53:2 (1977), pp 232-254. [...]
[...] After having seen how southern attitudes evolved towards the NI problem, let us evaluate if this understanding is greater than it used to be. Secondly, we shall wonder if the understanding of the problem in the Republic of Ireland is now more or less important than it was 40 years ago. On one hand, it cannot be denied that since the late 1960s, southern understanding of the NI problem has increased. Elite's in the Republic of Ireland seem to have achieved a better understanding of the problem that they used to have. [...]
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