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The IRA and the Irish-English Conflict

Outline

It has been found that there exists a very strong relationship between a people’s identity and their language. This was confirmed when the English tried to translate names of Irish people as well as those of Irish cities to English. The main objective of the British was to make colonization easier as Irish people would not be able to defend themselves after they had lost their identity. However, Irish people decided to object the move by the British and initiated wars that were to later earn them independence. Several wars erupted from disagreements between Irish people and the British, with some of them being Easter rising and civil war.

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Introduction

According to (Shannon, 1985 pp 18-21), Ireland’s colonization by the British began in the seventeenth century, where the British used language translations to oppress Irish people. Language translations helped the English to impose their culture on the people of Ireland, making colonization easier for them. Consequently, the Irish people sought ways in which they could get themselves out of British colonization through the formation of the IRA. IRA was a republican organization of military men that was formed by Irish volunteers. The organization was formed in the year 1913 and was involved in a number of fights among them being, Easter rising, war that was to bring independence to Irish as well as civil war, where they had to split due to some disagreements concerning the treaty. Irish volunteers gained recognition as the army of the Irish republic in 1919, which gave them a mandate to initiate a campaign that was against colonialism.

Formation or Origins of IRA

The force applied by the IRA was founded on rebellions of united Irishmen, young Irelanders as well as that of republican brotherhood. These rebellions took place from late eighteenth century to mid nineteenth century. However, their methods were derived from traditions of some secret societies that included Ribbonmen, Irish league supporters and the Defenders. Fenian Brotherhood, which was an organization that operated in America, was the first to make use of the IRA acronym. This organization consisted of military forces that were divided into several regiments and set off in 1866 to fight the Ridgeway’s battle. However, the modern IRA acronym was used by the Citizens’ Army as well as Irish volunteers in the twentieth century during Easter rising. (Wright, 2000)

(Darby, 1999 pp26-30), argues that, the volunteers that formed IRA came out in response to violence that erupted after the citizens of Ireland demanded for independence, which unionist failed to agree with. To the unionists, the kind of rule nationalists were asking for would not result in total independence. This disagreement resulted in war between the two groups, where the unionist formed the volunteer force while the nationalists formed the Irish volunteers to represent them in war. At this time, the British government had already agreed to give independence, otherwise known as home rule to Ireland through an act that was passed by its parliament. However, implementation was delayed due to fears of war that would erupt as a result of Irish unionists’ resistance and consequently lead to a fight between Irish volunteers and volunteer force. Things did not work well for Irish volunteers as in 1914; they split into National volunteers and another group that retained their original name. Easter rising was proclaimed in 1916 by pearse, who was a leader in British government. At this time, Germany had supplied some weapons which were to be used by British in war. However, their plot was realized which led to the loss of those weapons in the sea as their ship was made to sink.

The rising started, with republican brotherhood in conjunction with the group that had retained the name Irish volunteers, fighting with the British for a whole week in the streets of the capital of Irish. Their rebellion did not last long as they surrendered due to the overwhelming force that was applied by the British to silence them. The rising resulted to killings of several civilians, which were blamed on rebels by the nationalists who sided with the British. Later, another fight erupted when the British attempted to start conscription so as to increase its forces in war. This was not accepted by Irish nationals who began to recognize the necessity of prior efforts of rebels against the British. Republicans who survived in the rising joined in the movement of Sinn Fein and fought with the parliamentary party where neither of them won. However, Sinn Fein was favored by the crisis of conscription and was able to secure the most number of seats during the elections in 1918. Thereafter, members of the parliament of Sinn Fein shifted from British government, where Ireland was declared a republic. At that particular time, Irish volunteers had increased greatly and were organized again to form Ireland republic’s army. It’s after that reorganization that the volunteers started to call themselves, IRA. (Petry, 2005 pp38-39)

Events That Led To the Conflict between English and Irish

According to (Andrews, 1979 pp33-34), conflict between Irish people and British was caused by a series of events which started with demands for independence by the nationals of Irish. The British were not pleased with those demands and opted to agree on the condition that they would reign under the British Empire. Some sided with the British while others were against the set conditions because they knew that being under their empire would mean partial attainment of independence. Therefore, the British together with nationalists who sided with them initiated a fight with unionists who were against their offer of home rule.

Another area where Irish differed with the British was when the British decided to use conscription in war. At that time, the British army had experienced a shortage in its forces and saw signs of defeat. Citizens of Ireland were to be forced into the army so as to increase force in British army. Since they had already witnessed the damages conscription had caused in the western part of the Front, they could not allow the same to happen to them. Therefore, members of the public who had already sided with the British in casting blame on rebels who had split from the Irish volunteers changed and were now against the British for their harsh decision. A committee was formed so as to resist that particular move by the British. Strikes were planned as well as rallies that were meant to mobilize citizens to resist conscription demands. (Andrews, 1979 pp35-37)

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The major conflict between British government and Irish republic was as a result of a disagreement concerning the treaty. This treaty was signed when Ireland was declared a republic by the British. In the treaty, Ireland republic would reign under a British monarch which was not agreed upon by a large number of nationalists who wanted total independence. The treaty required Irish parliamentarians to swear by a certain oath that would bind them to working under the British. The center of argument concerning that treaty was that, it referred to Ireland as a republic instead of Free State. To Irish republicans, the term republic was much less and showed that they had not gained ultimate freedom from colonization and argued that if they were surely free then their country should be referred to as a Free State. Another point of disagreement was on the way counties were divided, where Ireland was allocated twenty six of them while English retained six counties which were in the north eastern part of Ireland. The six counties at the north formed a separate section which would be called Northern Ireland. This brought a conflict as that was the section where majority of the Protestants resided and having it under the British would mean that they would still be under British colonization. The treaty also required the royal navy to retain occupation of some of the strategic ports which would greatly interfere with Ireland’s independence as anything including weapons would be shipped in the country without their consent. This had been previously witnessed just before Easter rising when Germany had provided some weapons to the British. (Eagleton, 2000 pp12-15)

Disagreements between the Irish and British caused divisions among the citizens as well as parliamentarians of the Ireland republic that resulted to civil war. During this war, those who were not in support of the treaty’s requirements fought against the ones who were supporting it. This war spread all over Ireland causing so much damage, where a large number of Ireland citizens died. The group that was against the treaty was very fierce as they executed some of those who were reported to be in support of the treaty. However, the public was not happy with those killings and failed to side with them. The group that was against the treaty lost the battle to the group that was for the treaty’s requirements. The damages caused ranged from deaths, great economic costs as well some political irregularities. (Andrews, 1979 pp38-40)

How Conflict Was Resolved

The damages caused by the last conflict between Irish and English called for a resolution of matters in which the two disagreed on. Therefore, members of the Free State tried to initiate peace talks with the group they had fought with. Two major parties were left in control, that is, the parties of Fianna Fail and the already existing Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail took the larger share as it dominated in the politics of that time while Sinn Fein was regarded as a smaller party. At this point, there was more association of Fianna Fail with IRA. Members of Fianna Fail swore through an oath and became part of the government. This was when citizens of Ireland began to feel that their country was gaining independence. British government also took a great step in negotiations and allowed the parliament of Ireland to have its rights back. Later, the oath along with some objectionable features that were contained in the treaty was abolished by Fianna Fail. (Wright, 2000 pp22-24)

Conclusion

A constitution was also passed; recognizing the post of the president, hence, whoever would be elected would not have to reign under the British. Britain returned the ports it had secured under its name in the treaty, giving Ireland the mandate to be in control of all its ports. At this point, negotiations were left to the two groups; the one that was for the treaty and the one that was against. After a series of negotiations, they decided to form a coalition where the final government would be composed of members from both sides. Another major decision made by the coalition government was to leave the British Commonwealth. The previous Free State was renamed Ireland’s republic which was a climax in finding the solution to conflict between English and Ireland. At this point, Ireland attained its independence and the operations that followed thereafter took place in an independent country. (Petry, 2005 pp40-41)

References

Andrews K. (1979): English activities in Ireland: Wayne state universities press pp33-40

Darby J. (1999): Northern Ireland: Palgrave Macmillan pp 26-30

Eagleton T. (2000): The truth about the Irish: St Martins Press pp12-15

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Petry S. (2005): Synopsis of important facts about Ireland: Grin Verlag pp38-41

Shannon W. (1985): A way out of the Irish conflict: Priority Press Pubns pp18-21

Wright J. (2000): Policing and conflict in Northern Ireland: Palgrave Macmillan pp22-24

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