فصل 08

مجموعه: کتاب های خیلی ساده / کتاب: ایرلند / فصل 8

کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 08

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  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی ساده

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Northern Ireland

In 1921, about 60 percent of the people of Northern Ireland were Protestant, and about 40 percent were Catholic. Today the numbers are about 53 percent and 40 percent. Most of the Protestants want to be British, and most of the Catholics want to be Irish. Hundreds of people have died because of this.

From 1921 to 1971 Northern Ireland had a Parliament at Stormont. There were always more Protestants than Catholics, so the Protestants could do what they wanted. Protestants had most of the best jobs and the best houses. Most of the police were Protestant too, and they were afraid of the IRA. At the same time, many Catholics were afraid of the police. Sometimes the IRA tried to kill the police, and the police hit back at the Catholics. It was a circle without an end.

In 1968 Catholics started to ask for a better life. They marched through the streets of Belfast and Derry, asking for better jobs and houses. But the Protestant police and Orangemen attacked the Catholic marchers. Many marchers were badly hurt, and all of them were angry and afraid.

In 1969 British soldiers came to Northern Ireland to try to stop the fighting, and at first many Catholics were happy to see them. But then the IRA started to kill soldiers and policemen, and so the British soldiers and police tried to find the IRA and put them in prison. Sometimes they put the wrong people in prison, and so the Catholics didn’t like the British soldiers.

Over the next thirty years, many terrible things happened. On ‘Bloody Sunday’ - 30 January 1972 - British soldiers killed 14 Catholic marchers in Derry. ‘The marchers had guns,’ the soldiers said. But nobody found any guns. On ‘Bloody Friday’ - 21 July 1972 - the IRA put 22 bombs in Belfast, all at the same time. 9 people died and 130 people were hurt, Protestant and Catholic, British and Irish. Some of them lost arms and legs.

The IRA put bombs in pubs and streets and shops. They killed soldiers and policemen, but they also killed thousands of ordinary people. Protestants in the Ulster Defence Association - the UDA - killed thousands of ordinary Catholics too. These Protestant fighters are called Loyalists.

By 1979 there were hundreds of IRA and UDA men in prison. At first they were political prisoners, like soldiers in prison during a war. They could wear ordinary clothes, and they did not do prison work. Then Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, decided that this must stop. ‘These men are criminals,’ she said, ‘so they must be the same as other prisoners.’

Because of this some prisoners decided in 1980 to stop eating. They drank water but they did not eat. Day after day, they got thinner and thinner. After 66 days, the first man, Bobby Sands, died. Then another man died, and another. Ten men died in prison, because they wanted to be political prisoners. Most British people thought Mrs Thatcher was right, but a lot of Irish Catholics didn’t agree. More and more of them started to vote for Sinn Fein.

In many parts of Northern Ireland there are Nationalist or Loyalist paintings on the walls of houses. The Loyalists usually show the Red Hand of Ulster, or King William of Orange and the Battle of the Boyne. The Nationalists show Celtic pictures, and pictures of Bobby Sands. Both of them often show men with guns.

In 1998, the British and Irish governments met with Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists. They wanted to end the fighting in Northern Ireland. Together, they made the Good Friday Agreement. This Agreement said that Catholics and Protestants must work together in the government of Northern Ireland.

Today, Catholics and Protestants still do not agree about many things in Northern Ireland. But after thirty years of fighting, people are starting to talk to each other. And most people are happy about that.

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