rELIGION + POPULATION
Discover how Irish religion shaped our nation
The Troubles was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an “irregular war” or “low-level war”.
Unionists/loyalists, who were mostly Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. The conflict began during a campaign to end discrimination against the Catholic/nationalist minority by the Protestant/unionist government and police force.
Christianity has existed in Ireland since the 5th century and arrived from Roman Britain (most famously associated with Saint Patrick), forming what is today known as Gaelic Christianity. It gradually gained ground and replaced the old pagan traditions. The Catholic Church in Ireland cites its origin to this period and considers Palladius as the first bishop sent to the Gaels by Pope Celestine I.
The Catholic Church in Ireland is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See. With 3.7 million members, it is the largest Christian church in Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland’s 2016 census, 78% of the population identified as Catholic, which represents a decrease of 6% from 2011.
Every year on the 12th of July, many Northern Irish Unionists celebrate Protestant victory in the Battle of Boyne in 1690 by lighting huge bonfires and marching through the streets playing music and saluting the Queen. This year, about 50,000 people reportedly took part all over the region.
Though the city’s youngest adults can barely remember the Troubles themselves, they’re increasingly becoming radicalised. Poverty in Belfast is at a 10-year high; unemployment hovers near 8 percent, with about one in four 18- to 24-year-olds out of work in 2013. And so with few jobs and often inadequate education, young men are indoctrinated by paramilitary groups still left over from the fighting of the past.
The Provisional IRA emerged in December 1969, following a split in the republican movement. It was so-called to mirror the 1916 Provisional Government of the Irish Republic, and also to designate it as temporary pending reorganisation of the movement. Although this eventually happened in 1970, the name”Provisional” stuck with them.
The Irish Republic Army
The Irish Republican Army, also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland.
Find out our country’s population
Population currently: 4.88 million
The population of the Island of Ireland in 2016 was approximately 6.6 million (4.75 million in the Republic of Ireland with another 1.85 million in Northern Ireland). Although this is a significant growth over recent years, it is still some way below the record high of the early 1840s.
The subsequent Great Famine and the emigration it caused had a dramatic effect, so that by 1871, the 26-county population had dropped by over a third to four million, and by 1926 had reduced further to three million. It held firm around three million until the early 1970s, when the population began to rise again.
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