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IRA : Is Force Justified?
The Irish Republican Army is not justified in using force to achieve its aims because the Irish Republican Army (IRA) represents the minority of the population in Northern Ireland. The IRA also is not justified in using force because using force does not work and it turns their supporters against them. The IRA’s goals are political and political rights should be achieved through political methods, not by force.
In cases where the majority of the population is not fairly represented in the government and peaceful protests and demonstrations have not been successful, then resorting to armed resistance is justified. For example, in the case of the American Revolution, the colonists’ armed resistance was justified because they represented the majority, and they had already tried to gain independence peacefully through protests and demonstrations and they probably would have never have gained their independence otherwise. Another example when armed resistance is justified is in South Africa, where the Black majority has been trying for years to gain equal rights. In the case of the IRA, even though it has tried to gain independence from Great Britain through demonstrations and protests, it does not represent the majority of people in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the IRA is not justified in using force to achieve it’s aims.
In order to understand the IRA, one has to understand the history of Ireland. In 1641 a ten-year rebellion began in Ireland to gain it’s independence from England. England had been occupying Ireland for centuries. The rebellion cost 60,000 Irish lives. For the next 150 years, Protestants dominated Ireland. In 1801 the Act of Union joined Ireland with Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom. In 1829 the English Parliament passed an act giving the Catholics in Ireland political equality for most purposes. Later, Ireland set forth to eliminate the Act of Union. The Catholics in Southern Ireland wanted Home Rule, but the Protestants in Northern Ireland wanted to keep the Act of Union with Great Britain. On Easter Monday, 1916, Irish volunteers armed themselves and united with the Citizen army and staged an unsuccessful rebellion in Dublin, a town in Northern Ireland. The leaders of the rebellion were executed by the English, which made the Irish nationalists mad at England. In 1918 elections took place electing members of Sein Fein, the Irish revolutionary party, into the seats of the English Parliament. Instead of taking their seats, they set up a new Parliament in Ireland, and proclaimed Ireland’s independence from Great Britain. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was developed when the Irish volunteers tried to defend themselves from the British, who tried to put down the new Parliament. In 1921 a truce was signed between Great Britain and the IRA called the Anglo-Irish treaty. It gave Home Rule to Southern Ireland, which was later called the Irish Free State. Northern Protestant Ireland was left a colony of Great Britain because that is what the majority of the people in Northern Ireland wanted. The Irish Catholics of Southern Ireland voted their approval of the treaty. Some Catholics remained in Northern Ireland when the border was made to separate the North and the South. The Catholics in Northern Ireland continued to want unity with Southern Ireland and independence from Great Britain, so the IRA remained intact fighting for independence.
The Catholics do have many reasons to want political unity and equal rights in Northern Ireland. In the past in Northern Ireland, the Catholics were convicted of crimes without being tried, and their religion determined their housing and their jobs, which for the Catholics, usually meant they lived in the ghettos and had the “left-over” jobs. “(Catholic) housing was poor. They suffered from the usual forms of anti-Catholic discrimination. Their economic prospects were bleak.” As recently as 1985 unemployment in Northern Ireland was 21.8 percent compared to 17.2 percent in the South. The IRA does have reasons to be mad at the Protestants of Northern Ireland, but terrorism will not solve their problems. Terrorism will only bring them farther from their aims, and terrorism is never justified as a means to solve problems.
Great Britain has been trying for several years to appease the people of Ireland and to gain peace. Great Britain granted the Home Rule to Southern Ireland, because that is
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Celtic nationalism, Politics of Ireland, National liberation movements, Irregular military, Irish Republican Army, Irish republicanism, The Troubles, Northern Ireland, Irish Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Irish nationalism, Ireland
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