religious conflict in N. Ireland

by drew and trey

The Troubles, as they are known to the populace, did not erupt on any specific date, but emerged as the result of several years of escalating incidents between Catholics and Protestants. This latest episode of the long-standing conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland has been going on for thirty years, and although a peace agreement has been reached, a peaceful resolution to this costly struggle is not yet in sight.

The Troubles have been protracted and costly in every sense of the word. From the time of the first civil rights marches in 1968 the cost, in both human and material terms, has been steadily mounting. Between 1968 and 1994, over 3,500 people died and over 35,000 were injured in Northern Ireland as a direct result of the fighting. Robberies, bombings, assassinations, and terror tactics spread to engulf Great Britain and the Irish Republic, greatly decreasing the common person's sense of security and impinging on the populace's personal freedom. Civil rights in Northern Ireland have been seriously eroded, and freedom in the name of safety has been sacrificed to some extent in both Great Britain and the Irish Republic (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988, 51). In material terms, Northern Ireland drains over £3 billion annually from the British treasury while increased security and border patrols cost the Irish Republic over one-quarter of its annual budget.


Turing employment in Northern Ireland has declined by over 40% since the beginning of the conflict, increasing the province's dependence on Great Britain for subsidies to maintain its current standard of living (see fig. 1). While part of this declhe economy of Northern Ireland has also been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict. Manufactine can be attributed to the decline of the world economy in the early 1970s, the 'branch plant' structure of industry in Northern Ireland has also contributed to the sharp deterioration in economic conditions within the region. These foreign-owned assembly or secondary production branch plants closed down when violence increased operating costs in the province. The fact that these plants lacked research and development or marketing facilities and were secondary (as opposed to main) plants meant that these low priority plants in Northern Ireland could shift their production elsewhere at minimal cost to their foreign owners. The constant threat of bombings, high cost of security, and lack of a stable internal market made plant openings unattractive and drove away large manufacturers in great numbers (Rowthorn and Wayne 1988, 84). In fact, only massive growth in government and security service jobs held off increases in unemployment figures until the second oil shock of 1979, when Northern Ireland joined the rest of the world in recession. It is estimated that without annual infusions of aid from Great Britain, the living standard of Northern