Catholicism & Protestant Conflict

Mia, Nick & Lauren

What was it?

In the 1920's, Northern Ireland decided that it should separate from the rest of ireland because of the Government of Ireland Act. When Northern Ireland separated, the Catholics were going to be the majority of the government. This scared the Protestants, and they didn't want to be ruled by a government that was mostly made up of catholics because government is very associated with religion. Also much of your identity and lifestyle was if you were in the protestant community or catholic community. Since both groups have many different opinions and outlooks on how the country should be ruled, there has been many conflicts between the two religious groups in Ireland.

Key Events

Internment (1971-1975)

Internment was a civil rights movement when people continued to protest despite a ban being placed on all marches. It started on August 9th, 1971 and around 350 people were immediately arrested and interned. The following 48 hours was violence and protests against internment that left 17 dead including 10 civilians. Throughout the remainder of the year protests against internment continued. The protests included violence, withholding of council rents, strikes and resignations by officials.

Hunger Strike (1981)

In 1976 the British government had removed 'special prisoner status' for anyone imprisoned for political acts. The prisoners had campaigned for 'political prisoner status' since 1976 by using both the 'blanket protest' refusing to wear prison clothes and wearing a blanket instead and the 'dirty protest' where prisoners refused to clean their cells and smeared excrement on the walls. When these had failed prisoners began going on hunger strikes. Bobby Sands was the first hunger striker in 1981. He and nine others died as a result of the hunger strike. Although no concessions were won from the British government, support for them increased immensly.

Peace Procces (1993- Present Day) In 1997 the British government proposed a resumption of peace talks. After months of discussion a settlement is reached on Good Friday 1998.

Some of the terms:
Ireland shall not be one united country without the consent of a majority in Northern Ireland
The people of Northern Ireland have the right to call themselves either Irish or British
A multi party assembly will be elected to govern the community.
A north/south council be set up to consider areas of mutual interest
An Anglo-Irish council be set up to consider areas of mutual interest
All people shall have basic human rights, civil rights and equality

Diversity is to be recognised - Irish to be taught in all schools
Paramilitary groups to be decommissioned within two years
A gradual reduction in the number of security forces deployed in Northern Ireland
To work towards having an unarmed police force


This conflict lasted for almost 30 years, but eventually, the Catholics and the Protestants signed an agreement in 1921. It included how to share power, which ended the conflict between the two groups. The agreement also made Ireland an independent country.


This 30 year conflict was the cause of over 3000 deaths in Northern Ireland alone. This also caused Ireland to separate into two countries: The Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

Essential Question

What was the cause of the Catholicism/Protestantism conflict in Northern Ireland and what was it’s impact?