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The Emerald Isle bleeds red: Religious violence in Ireland

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  1. Questions that arise from violence.
  2. Violence in Northern Ireland.
  3. Origin of violence.
  4. Catholic Nationalism v. Protestant Unionism.
  5. Religion throughout Irish history.
  6. Theological concepts in Irish terrorism.
  7. Ethno-religious implications.
  8. Conclusion and current positions.

To the Western world today, terrorism usually brings to mind some far-flung desert-like country and the people that inhabit it. Sadly, it often brings to mind terms like ?Muslim? or ?Islam?. When one hears the word terrorism, Ireland is generally not ones first thought, at least for those detached from the situation. The conflict has intensified over the last several decades, making Irish terror organizations a dangerous threat to the rest of the world.Questions arise as to why the violence occurs. How did it start? Is it religious violence, ethnic violence, or power mongering? Most authorities will say that the conflict is political, that religion has a minor role. Others say that it is entirely based on ethnicity rather than politics or religion. Advocates of the religious causes, such as Dr. Ian Paisley, will argue that religion is the fuel to the fire. Many high ranking IRA and DUP officials will even claim that it is a political struggle, and has nothing to do with religion (Juergensmeyer, 2003).

[...] The view held by Protestants that the Catholic church legitimized anti-protestant violence by not denouncing it, and the Church of Ireland declaring the suicide bombers of the Free Presbyterian movement martyrs, only gave further energy to the ensuing ethno-religious violence. Assuming that these ethno-religious lines are infact holding steady, the ideas in Huntington's, Clash of Civilization apply to the conflicts in Ulster. Although Huntington rejects the ideological aspect in contemporary violence, his explanations of cultural differences have some bearing on the situation. [...]


[...] Today the group mainly conducts its acts of violence through terrorism, in a feeble attempt to scare the British away from the Emerald Isle, and gain political power over the Unionists. We can identify this group of people by three attributes; ethnicity, religion, and political ideology. When most people think of the term IRA, they think Catholic. The generalized description of this party in the shortest space possible is native Irish, Catholic, and Republican Nationalists who traditionally oppose the British Government. [...]


[...] It is inarguable that Paisleys religious aspirations and teachings have fueled the violence in Northern Ireland. His political achievements although numerous and prestigious, do not negate his extremist religious beliefs, even by his own party members (Smyth, 1987). Although many militants in Ireland would disagree that religion is a huge part of the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley believes it is the centerpiece. Although it is difficult to apply the idea of ?Cosmic to the entire conflict, the model fits very well within the mindset of Ian Paisley. [...]

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