Northern Ireland (video interview)

Since the “the Troubles” started in the 1960s, Northern Ireland was for many people synonymous with sectarian conflict, bombings and shootings. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998, signed by both the British and Irish governments as well as most of Northern Ireland’s political parties, marked a new beginning. The IRA, which had long waged war against the British presence in Northern Ireland, agreed to put down their weapons and fight for their aims by peaceful means, while Protestant Unionists agreed to the idea of power-sharing with the Catholic nationalist minority.

In May 2007 a new cross-party Northern Ireland government was formed with Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionists as First Minister and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein (seen as the political wing of the IRA) as his deputy. This extraordinary development was the result of a political process in which British, Irish and also American governments had played a key role.

In the interview Access writer Richard Burgess asks Irish historian Dr Eamonn Noonan about how these changes came about and what the future of the province might be.

Discussion questions:

  1. How is it that peace has come about in Northern Ireland, according to Eamonn?
  2. How have the moderates on both sides fared in the Northern Ireland peace process?
  3. What does Eamonn say about the prospects for a united Ireland?