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Talk:The Troubles (Ireland)

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 Definition A period of violent political conflict concerning Northern Ireland, largely within that region. [d] [e]
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we have a problem

Please start with the mid 20th century--we already have histories of Ireland-- and give the why-when-why summary first

I think of "the troubles" as one event (with multiple episodes) with the name "Irish Troubles". Hence the singular. This seems to be reinforced by a discrete beginning and end. Thus in one journal "Over the last three decades the Irish Troubles as by-product has inspired an enormous library—instant history, social science tracts, memoirs, collections..." Richard Jensen 19:06, 13 January 2008 (CST)
I certainly agree with you that it should be considered as one event. I can't put my hands on a really definitive source one way or the other. My 1941 EB devotes many pages to the "civil war" beginning about 1920 but doesn't use the word "Troubles" at all. To me it simply *looks* strange to use a singular for a clearly plural word. As you may recall, in American English, Charley Dressen's old declaration, "The Giants is dead!" is frequently brought up, but only to say that the plural should be used. On the other hand, in British English, it is said that "the govenment are about to take action....etc." So I'll go along with whatever other people decide to do....Hayford Peirce 20:22, 13 January 2008 (CST)
I agree it's a puzzle (or they are a puzzle). Richard Jensen 20:38, 13 January 2008 (CST)
The plan I was running with was a brief outline of the first English involvement on the island (IE, the Anglo Normans) then move on to the Ulster Plantations, and how the Protestant Ulster Scots community got there, then I would fast forward to the details mentioned in the Ulster Unionism article.
At most, the origins section would contain around three paragraphs of historical context. Denis Cavanagh 06:10, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Denis--This is part of a multiple-article series on Ireland and Northern Ireland. This one should deal only with the late 20th century. I recall Bill Buckley's story of his visit to Belfast. He was told, "Everyone here is Catholic or Protestant." Buckley snapped, "surely there must be athiests in Belfast." "Oh yes, but they are either Catholic athiests or Protestant athiests." Richard Jensen 06:49, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Yes, thats a good one! Another joke I've heard is when a man was corned on a street by three men, one of them was lurking in the shadows. He was asked 'Are you Catholic or Protestant?'. The man thought for a second and outsmarted them. 'I'm neither. I'm Jewish'. Out of the shadows came a Muslim man saying 'I must be the luckiest man in Belfast'
Anyway, I'm not sure on how to write the origins section without mentioning the Ulster Plantation, Strongbow and the Anglo Irish war. Denis Cavanagh 07:03, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Good joke! the solution re origins is to just put in links to the other articles. To assume there are 150 year old causes for fights today is pretty strong, let alone 500 or 800 year old links. The Irish Catholics, for example, fought each other (Irish Civil War in 1920s) much harder than they ever fought the Protestants. (see Michael Collins). Richard Jensen 07:15, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Hmm - we need a Terminolgy section - or article... the Civil War was not Catholic vs. Catholic exclusively, but moreso Republican vs Nationalist (both of those should have an 'Irish' in front of them to distinguish from international norms for those words :P ). This should cover the difference between Republican, Nationalist, Loyalist and Unionist, etc., and outline that although in the main Republicans and Nationalists are Catholic (or at least nominally so) and Loyalists and Unionists are Protestant (or at least nominally so), this is not always the case and cannot be assumed. The first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, for example, was Protestant, as were many prominent rebel leaders in the preceding centuries.
As regards this article, I broadly agree that it should concentrate on the last few decades, 1969 on. The lede can allude to the ancient origins of the conflict and link to other appropriate articles, with further links included in the Related Articles subpage. Denis - I don't think what you had written here on McMurrough et al is covered anywhere else yet? Maybe take it from the page history and put it on a new Ireland, history page? Anton Sweeney 08:25, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Anton was right about Protestant nationalists in 1920s but my statement that Catholics spent more energy (in 1916-23) fighting Catholics was also correct. In any case we're chatting here, not inserting stuff in the article. Richard Jensen 13:33, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Just a note about the jokes. We have quite an old joke here from which I think the others derived. It goes something like this: Man approached with the question, "Are you Protestant or Catholic?" He answers, "Neither - I'm Jewish." The response is, "Aye, but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?" --Mal McKee 20:35, 13 May 2008 (CDT)

'Irish' is taken as understood

I think this should be moved to The Troubles. I have never heard the expression with 'Irish' in it. (I was a teenager living in London when they began.) Ro Thorpe 17:52, 14 January 2008 (CST)

well it's understood if you're in the UK. But "the troubles" is used for long-term systemic violence in other countries too (like Beirut [1]); Kansas in the 1850s [2]; cities in the Protestant Reformation at [3] and colonial American Indians wars (William Hubbard, Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians of New England (Boston, 1677). Richard Jensen 18:08, 14 January 2008 (CST)

Ah, I didn't know that. So how about The Troubles, Ireland, then? Ro Thorpe 18:45, 14 January 2008 (CST)

that works :) Richard Jensen 20:26, 14 January 2008 (CST)
Good, I'll move it forthwith - Ro Thorpe 01:37, 15 January 2008 (CST)

The problem is that you're using a comma when you should use parentheses. We use parentheses, not commas, to clarify and disambiguate; commas are used for that only with place names. So, for example: Paris, France. But: Paris (Greek hero). Hence, to be in keeping with our Naming Conventions, this should be written: The Troubles (Ireland). --Larry Sanger 10:01, 15 January 2008 (CST)

Indeed, I wasn't sure which to use - Ro Thorpe 11:15, 15 January 2008 (CST)
The Troubles (Ireland) is right, I think. Denis Cavanagh 16:14, 15 January 2008 (CST)

Proposed outline

I can see two possible ways of covering the topic in the detail it needs. Either 1) a timeline, outlining everything in chronological order; or 2) breaking it down into topics (a possible outline below). There may be a better way than either of these!


  • Another (longer) paragraph on background, especially covering the immediate runup to the outbreak of the Troubles.

New sections covering:

  • The principal protagonists
    • Unionists and Loyalists

Political parties and paramilitary organisations

    • Nationalists and Republicans

Political parties and paramilitary organisations

    • British/Crown forces

RUC, British Army, UDR

  • Major acts of violence

The major violent events - Bloody Sunday up through the various major bombings/killings

  • Major acts of violence outside Northern Ireland

Dublin/Monaghan bombings, Birmingham, Guildford, Woolwich, Brighton, Canary Wharf, West Germany, etc.

  • Other significant events

Hunger strikes, the Peace People, Drumcree, etc.

  • Political events

Timeline of political events related to the Troubles during the period

  • The peace process

Ceasefires, Good Friday Agreement, Decomissioning Body, Stormont I, suspension, Stormont II

Thoughts? Anton Sweeney 17:59, 16 January 2008 (CST)

outline looks good. I tend to favor topic (rather than straight chonology) in this case. Richard Jensen 18:01, 16 January 2008 (CST)

I made a start at trying to get a chronological sequence of the Civil Rights movement up and going. I like this idea better though Anton. P.S- Should we go much into detail on the Civil Rights movement, or should that be included in the origins section? The Battle of the Bogside may be the start of the Troubles itself, but it was a result of the Civil Rights movement. Denis Cavanagh 16:20, 18 January 2008 (CST)

good start!Richard Jensen 17:50, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Stroke City?

Although strictly this is a PR issue, what exactly should we call Derry? I'll be six feet under the ground before I call it Londonderry. Denis Cavanagh 16:18, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Statesman's yearbook (British) calls it (London)derry. Richard Jensen 17:50, 18 January 2008 (CST)

Irish sources and media will usually refer to the city as Derry; British sources as Londonderry - which is legally the official name. The majority of the population are nationalist and call it Derry. So (oddly!) do the Apprentice Boys! The city council, though, is officially Derry - but the council lost a court case to have the city named Derry. The county its in has always been called Londonderry (there was no preceding county Derry). This is probably going to be a contentious issue... personally, I think the WP compromise on the Stroke City issue is actually a reasonable one - Derry for the city; Londonderry for the county. Anton Sweeney 04:40, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I don't see what Dublin has to do with it. Let's go with the official name bestowed by the nation in which it is located. Richard Jensen 04:59, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I might be wrong but the county has been split up into two constituencies; Foyle (Which includes the city) and East Londonderry, where it is majority Unionist. The name of the county is Doire, which in English is Derry. The name Londonderry came about with the original planters who received a lot of their investment from London businessmen to actually build the city. The official name of Derry holds with it a lot of baggage Richard, and I can see potential edit wars over this on the future so maybe we should decide on a compromise here. Denis Cavanagh 05:23, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I proposed one this compromises: (London)derry, as used by the Statesman Yearbook. BBC has this solution: the city should be referred to as Londonderry during the initial reference, and Derry subsequently. (That works on TV but in print it will just confuse readers into thinking there are two cities.) Note that the courts ruled on 25 January 2007 that the city officially remained Londonderry. Wikipedia has very good coverage at [4] Richard Jensen 05:45, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I think it might be a British English/American English thing. Honour translates into Honor in American spelling... Derry is the nationalist wording, Londonderry is the unionist wording. The dispute rightly deserves an article all of its own. Denis Cavanagh 06:12, 19 January 2008 (CST)

The NY Times uses Londonderry:
  • FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS; 'Bloody Sunday' violence during a pro-I.R.A. civil-rights march in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, two contrasting points of view are presented...of Parliament representing an Irish-Catholic district in Londonderry, as a response, though he's simply addressing his followers...
  • October 2, 2002 - By ELVIS MITCHELL - Movies - 930 words

I.R.A. Gunman in Londonderry Wounds Ulster Policewoman the center of Londonderry, a predominantly Catholic city in the western part of the...

  • April 11, 1997 Londonderry Bomb Defused
    • in New hampshire we have both Derry and Londonderry-- and a lot of Irish Catholics (with few Irish Protestants) Richard Jensen 06:58, 19 January 2008 (CST)

In relation to an earlier point Richard made about using the name its been bestowed upon, should we call Burma Myanmar or Burma? Denis Cavanagh 15:02, 19 January 2008 (CST)

I have no problem with Myanmar. Londonderry/Derry or (London)derry is different because the very name has become contested. Richard Jensen 16:11, 19 January 2008 (CST)

The Peace Process

The NI peace process is a long and potentially draining thing to write about. I've mentioned a political movement called 'conciliatory' (Working Title) which has mentioned Gordon Wilson (The section is a little too long compared to the rest) and then only small mention for the grassroots organisation. I'll be talking to my mother at the weekend (A Republican Mother is a good source for articles like these :-)) and will add more then. Denis Cavanagh 07:15, 21 January 2008 (CST)

I'll add in something on the Peace People grassroots movement too (who also got a Nobel). The Political Movements section also needs Loyalism added. Anton Sweeney 18:09, 21 January 2008 (CST)

Historical background

I was bold and waded in before I read some of the comments here. I think an article on The Troubles in Northern Ireland has to have some historical context - a short summary of some of the perceptions behind the causes - both long and short term, despite it having been covered in another, related article. To that end, I added some of that to the article. To some people, "The Troubles" includes everything from around 1916 onward. For others, it was the late 19th century and Home Rule. Still others see it as beginning with any 'English' involvement, dating back to the 12th century, or even to the invasion and settlement of the Gaels. In the modern context though, and as the article states, it's generally held to have been that most recent period from the late 1960s.

A note about the 'end' of The Troubles: This will perhaps become more definitive in retrospect - after some years or decades have passed. Currently, it's hard to pinpoint a moment in time by which The Troubles could be said to have ended. It could very well be quite subjective in that, for some, The Troubles will be here for as long as their ideal remains a goal yet to be achieved. Obviously a more objective view would be to look at the last year in which there was substantial violence or rioting.

Some might point to the announcement of the 'first' IRA ceasefire, in 1994. Others at the instalment of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement. Still others at the advent of the St Andrews accord. There has certainly been rioting and terrorist activity in the years between 1994 and now. In fact, yesterday a police officer was injured in a car bomb attack - the first explosion I remember hearing about for many moons. Perhaps in retrospect any increase in terrorist activity or street violence (if it should occur) will be called something else. For now, it might be seen as the embers of The Troubles. Of course, as a native to, and resident of that troubled area in question, I have to say that it is my hope that that's all it is: dying embers of a dying breed. --Mal McKee 09:46, 14 May 2008 (CDT)

The Troubles is technically still ongoing (Think the riots in Dublin last year, Unionist riots in Belfast the year before?) and as long as one side is firmly opposed to partition and the other side is firmly in favour of it, there will be trouble. The degree's of strife is important as well, of course. And I second your last sentance; I'm from North Monaghan, a few miles away from Bragan (An old IRA training centre and the burial ground of many an unfortunate man) and not too far from south Armagh, another hotspot. Denis Cavanagh 12:52, 14 May 2008 (CDT)
Yup - the reason I was reasonably wordy on this talk page about it is because I have read quite a few articles which seem to consider the Troubles to have ended. I think the phrase "all but ended" might be more accurate. There has certainly been a hell of a difference here since around 1998, and it's certainly valid to perhaps suggest that the Troubles have ended in some contexts. Like many things though, it's going to be a matter of time and patience. Rome wasn't built in a day. A united Ireland certainly won't be built in a day, should it end up being the case and, by the same token for the opposing viewpoint, a stable status quo (if that isn't a too ironic way of putting it!) isn't going to come about in a day either. Moving too quickly, putting too much pressure on one side or the other, could see things erupt into what we've had to endure for all of my life (I was born just after the start of the Troubles). --Mal McKee 13:27, 14 May 2008 (CDT)

Gypsies and Travellers etc

Denis, it was not my intention to insert something offensive into the article. However, the common name (whether it is seen as offensive or not) was "gypsies" at the time, and I suspect it still is in social circles throughout Ireland. I'm not sure that the term was seen as particularly offensive at the time, and I think I remember (reading that) the issue was publicised as being about the rights of "gypsies". That's why I felt a clear conscience with regard to wording my addition the way I had done.

I wonder if it might be appropriate to add something along the lines of, " the time referred to as 'gypsies'...". I appreciate the term has now become offensive to some, and was perhaps never strictly accurate given the origin of the name etc. What are your thoughts and knowledge about this? --Mal McKee 13:38, 14 May 2008 (CDT)

It wasn't anything at all to do with the offense it may cause, its because eastern European travellers are known as 'gypsy'. The Irish version is a totally different character. Denis Cavanagh 13:46, 14 May 2008 (CDT)
Yes, I appreciate the origin of the word and the people it described, but at the time (or some time before it) the word had been borrowed and used to describe these people in (or on the fringe of) our society and passed into common usage, whether it was technically correct or not. It became a well-established word to describe the group, due to the similarities. Certainly I suspect at the time that the people involved in the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland thought of themselves as championing the rights of a people they called gypsies. --Mal McKee 14:04, 14 May 2008 (CDT)
I'd like to point out that personally, I'm happy with the change you made. I was just wondering if you thought it would be a good idea to indicate the common name that was given to them at the time. Also, I think there should probably be a link to an article about Irish travellers (has it been started?). --Mal McKee 14:32, 14 May 2008 (CDT)
An article on the Travellers is needed actually! I always assumed the 'gypsy' terminology was a slur, alluding to the travelling folk of eastern Europe (Who were hated for sorcery among other things) and that the Irish Traveller was considered different from that group. I don't mean to be ridiculously PC by calling them itinerants either, but gypsy, whether it is used commonly or not isn't the right name for them. Denis Cavanagh 15:19, 14 May 2008 (CDT)
Well, from my experience - limited as it has been - the term wasn't initially considered offensive, or even used in a derogatory fashion necessarily. The problem really came about because some people regarded the community itself as .. less than desirable, shall we say? Basically some of the less desirable elements from their community affected the way some people considered the community as a whole.
I think it was in the 1990s at some point, that the term "Traveller" came to the fore as being the preferred nomenclature. Perhaps less for reasons of accuracy than a 'fresh start' and a distancing from the term "gypsy" and the connotations which came to be attached with it.
The term "gypsy" to mean "travelling person" isn't a new thing in Irish society though. It has been used in traditional folk songs like Raggle-Taggle Gypsy for at least a couple of centuries, and in them they are often portrayed in a romantic light. I don't think the writers of the songs and poems necessarily considered the accuracy of the term in its original context of pertaining to the Romani peoples. "Travellers" itself is used as a catch-all to refer to both people of Romani descent and people not specifically of Romani descent. That is the same meaning as the word "gypsy" came to have, centuries ago. The word also came to have connotations with the concept of freedom, and in the 1980s and 1990s with a certain style of dressing (and a dress which was formally or informally named a "gypsy dress").

Beyond that, by the way, I don't have much knowledge of the subject! Hopefully somebody can start and develop the article for Irish Travellers (or Travellers worldwide). --Mal McKee 16:14, 14 May 2008 (CDT)


I'm thinking that the timeline might end up being quite long, but I'm going to forge ahead with it anyhow and then consider removing some of the events to other timelines. There are numerous ways we could achieve this: by decade or by event types (notable deaths/killings and terrorist activities; political activist events; political and administration events etc), for example.

For the minute though, as I said, I'm going to just compile the information into the one page and see what we have to deal with. It could also be trimmed or expanded for relevancy or 'notability', depending on what we end up with. --Mal McKee 11:22, 15 May 2008 (CDT)

The best thing to do is plough through, fill it with whatever detail you think is necessary and then afterwards remove stuff you think isn't. Denis Cavanagh 13:34, 15 May 2008 (CDT)

Just a note on the status of this timeline

While editing it, I noticed that I had occasionally left out major events. At any given time during the initial compilation of the time line, there may be events that I have overlooked - even obvious ones! This will never be intentional or selective, but rather, from my own part, just a slightly arbitrary progression. When the major events from 1962 to around 1998 are filled in, I intend to go over it and fill in anything I can see that I may have missed. Then the time line should be sorted and, if necessary, either split into several time lines, or edited to omit some events which might be considered 'lesser' in a relative sense, to others. It's obviously very much a work-in-progress. --Mal McKee 12:53, 23 May 2008 (CDT)

Don't worry about it - Your doing great work. Denis Cavanagh 14:21, 23 May 2008 (CDT)

A lot more to do!

It would be a pity to leave this otherwise admirable article in this unfinished state. The necessary work of supporting its judgements with citations appears not to have been started, and other omissions include accounts of the involvement of the British army, of the peace processes pursued by John Major and Tony Blair, of the major acts of terrorism and of the resulting humanitarian and economic costs. Does anyone plan to repair those omissions? Nick Gardner 10:51, 6 October 2010 (UTC)