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Peace and Conflict Studies-Northern Ireland

It is in human nature to disagree with others especially when they come into contact. This disagreement is mainly caused by going against or depriving the needs and wants of a person or a community. Northern Ireland, a part of United Kingdom which borders the South and West of the Republic of Ireland, experienced a conflict brought about by the constitutional nature of the country and the discrimination of the minority group the Catholics, by the majority group the Protestants.

The Northern Ireland was under the British government which used direct rule of governance, but on 4th, July, 1974, The Northern Ireland Constitution (1974) was formed. This rule was later abolished as it went against the preference of the protestant unionist, by suggesting that both the United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland share the responsibilities of running the country. Conflicts can be changed to constructive ones instead of ending the conflict. This can be done by examining the conflict closely and studying it.

A conflict map which shows the cause for the disagreement, the people involved in it and the results desired at the end of the conflict should be drawn. For instance, in the Northern Ireland the disagreement was caused by attempt to change the style of governance from a direct rule to power sharing and the discrimination of Catholics. Those involved in the conflict were politicians, political activists, republican and loyalist paramilitaries, security forces of United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. They wanted Northern Ireland, to have a constitutional status of their preference and to put an end to the Catholic’s persecution.

Designing a conflict map can be faced by some difficulties which include taking sides of a conflict and as a third-party one is supposed to be neutral, misunderstanding and incorrect judgment of facts, financial constraints which prevent conduction of an extensive finding and identification of the wrong cause for the conflict (Byrne & Irvin, 2000). Long-term realistic steps, that will be used to change the conflict to a constructive confrontation should be identified, selected and enacted to act as a solution.

The end results should be improved as time passes by because the conflict does not end it only takes a different turn. In the Northern Ireland, the ‘Troubles’ were begun by the Ulster group which they grabbed land from the Irish Catholics and redistributed it to the British settlers. The British religion rule known as the Penal rule only allowed the residents of Northern Ireland to be Protestants who were followers of the Anglicans Church of Ireland and looked down on the Catholics who were the minority group. The Catholics formed a revolution movement to defend themselves and fight for their rights (Byrne & Irvin, 2000).

The Northern Island parliament was dissolved and the British authority incorporated the country into their legislative boundaries, categorizing Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. This stirred more disagreements perpetuated by the Catholic nationalistic communities, e. g. (IRA) Ireland Republican Army. They argued against the incorporation of the country into United Kingdom which governed through direct rule. They insisted that the country was in The Republic of Ireland. The Protestant Unionist, e. g. Ulster Volunteer Force supported the move and the direct rule.

The Belfast Agreement was formed to end the conflict. It constituted a peace process, where most paramilitary organizations were termed as illegal and declared harmless. The morals and functions of the police officials were improved and army troops deployed at the borders of South Armagh and Fermanagh and on the streets removed. Elections were carried out and Northern Ireland declared to be part of the United Kingdom. The British force allowed the Irish to solve their problems internally without the involvement of outside forces (Richard, 2003).

Strategies to solve the disagreement should be formulated and appropriate procedures of implementation determined. The root cause of the conflict should be identified and the people involved subjected to communication in a selected language. The neutral party talking to them should be very selective in the words he chooses to use to prevent angering the parties involved, being misquoted and sidelined as taking sides. Paradox is confusion; it tends to imply the opposite of the truth. This principle should be used to convert a conflict to a constructive confrontation.

The reasons of disagreeing stipulated by both parties should be merged and considered as one problem when solving the conflict. This was displayed when the IRA political party led by Gerry Adams decided to negotiate and come to an understanding with John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic Labour party and with the government officials. Religious leaders also contributed to these talks by urging the party leaders and officials to take the talks seriously so as to achieve the country’s goal; Peace (Heenan, 2007).

As the conflict between communities turn to civil wars, the parties involved get exhausted because their economic and social life grow to the worst, depriving them their needs and wants. Most prefer to end the conflict and continue living their normal lives. The Northern Ireland conflict encountered such a moment which lead to rise of peace groups advocating negotiation and reconciliation to end the violence. In such an instance the third-party can use the conflict transformation strategy to make the conflict less destructive thus benefiting the community.

This strategy engages the parties involved to have a positive attitude that will improve their social, political and communication strategies (Byrne & Irvin, 2000). Conflict confrontation involves using the interests and goals of the third party to make a conflict less destructive, unlike the traditional way of solving conflicts which include using the interests and goals of the parties involved to start negotiation measures and hope to come to a unanimous conclusion that will end the conflict. The later method uses a lot of time to come to an agreement and most of the time a result is not achieved.

Conflict confrontation improves the relationship ties of the two communities involved in the conflict, makes them to clearly understand the conflicting issues from both points of view and elaborates the appropriate measures to be followed and the outcome of the measures. Looking at the advantages of this method majority would use it. In conflict confrontation, one can neither define an appropriate beginning of solving the conflict nor define the end since the process used to solve the conflict can begin at any stage and the conflict is not ended but changed to a constructive one.

Conflict confrontation is a cyclic strategy of solving conflicts which will be used again if the agreement signed during the reconciliation process is challenged, thus this strategy is short term and does not end the conflict. Word Count: 1125 Reference List Byrne . S. and Irvin, L. C. (2000). Turning Points in Ethnopolitical Conflict. Oxford: Kumarian Press. Heenan, G. C. (2007). Political Leadership and the Northern Ireland Peace Process: Role, Capacity and Effect. University of Michigan: Palgrave. Richard . E. (2003). Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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