I am a radical, but I follow Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings that violence can only be used after all other means have been tried and have failed.
I have always supported a United Ireland, but I have never supported the violence of the Irish Republican Army. I do understand why the IRA started using violence and I think it was probably justified by Guru’s standards.
The conquest and colonisation of Ireland by England started even before the days of William the Conqueror (1066) and was finalised around 1600 under in the reign of Elizabeth I. From the beginning English people settled in Ireland, and many of them became half English/half Irish.
After the last great rebellion by Hugh O’Neill, during the reign of Elizabeth I the English decided to ethnically cleanse Ulster, the most rebellious part of Ireland, and replace the Irish population with people who mainly came from the south of Scotland and the north of England.
Pressed by the 19th century modern Irish nationalist movement the English authorities realised that they had to give up the second oldest English colony. There was strong opposition to Irish independence from the descendents of the Lowland Scots and Northern English settlers in Ulster.
Ireland is made up of four provinces, the most northern of which is Ulster. Ulster consists of nine counties. There never was a majority in favour of staying part of the United Kingdom, not in Ireland as a whole, not in Ulster.
But the ‘loyalist’ people of Ulster got what they wanted anyway as the three Ulster Counties with big Irish populations became part of the Shaorstát Éireann (Irish Free State), which left a six county ‘Northern Ireland’ with an artificial majority of ‘loyalists’, and where the Irish remained second class citizens in their own land.
Due to the first past the post voting system for the Westminster Parliament the people of Irish descent were underrepresented, and through some funny voting system in local elections they were even more underrepresented in local councils and in the Northern Ireland Parliament.
There was no possible democratic solution to their problems, which caused the violence. The violence started in the late sixties and went on till the Good Friday agreement in 1998. Until that time the majority ‘loyalist’ community had rejected any form of power sharing. Loyalists still do not realise that it was their discrimination of the Irish that caused the republican violence. And the question of partition has still not been resolved. Real peace in Northern Ireland will only come about when not just the republicans but also the loyalist recognise that they have live together in Ireland.