<- More below the fold!
You will notice that from time to time I focus on different aspects of international politics. There are certain areas of the world in particular that I plan to or wish to focus on. Northern Ireland, clearly, is one. I do however want to note that I write from a Canadian prospective, for a Canadian prospective. I’ve had people from the various countries I write about tell me my explanations of political issues in their homeland is “simplistic”, and this is true. I am not writing political analysis about Northern Ireland for a Northern Irish audience. I am writing it for a Canadian audience. This means from time to time I will make comparisons that are rough at best. For example, saying that in the UK, their Tories are like our Tories, their Liberals are like our moderate Liberals, and their Labour party is like our NDP plus Trudeauites is very simplistic, but also allows someone who may not follow UK politics to get a very basic understanding of what is going on.
I wish to therefore give a short and basic run down of politics in various areas I wish to focus on below the fold.
First off, Northern Ireland. You can find some basic election date on Wikipedia. The CAIN database is also full of useful nuggets of information. I want to note here something about Wikipedia. I am not endorsing the political analysis on it – it is very easy to say “most people think this” and not be caught, true or not. I am however endorsing the numbers. These numbers don’t make it to the page unless they are sourced. I myself am one of the more active contributors to election result numbers to Wikipedia, and I suggest someone looking for raw data use Wikipedia, while someone who wants a more detailed account of why should perhaps look elsewhere.
There are a number of parties in Northern Ireland. On the Unionist side there is the UUP, the Ulster Unionist Party. They are very old, and for many years formed the government. They were, in fact, in government from 1921 to the end of the NI Parliament in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was this government that people were protesting during the Bloody Sunday protest. In the 70’s however the UUP began to moderate it’s stance. This is when the DUP, or Democratic Unionist Party was formed, it struck a much more hard line for Unionism. In the past few years, however, the DUP has been a key part of Government, and it too has had to moderate it’s tone, leading to a new party, the TUV or Traditional Ulster Voice to spring up. The TUV has yet to be tested in either a UK or NI election.
On the Nationalist side there is the SDLP, or Social Democratic and Labour Party. This party was formed at the start of the troubles to represent nationalist and catholic interest. The largest nationalist party however is Sinn Fien. They are the political wing of the armed IRA members who fought the troubles. SF has overseen the disarming of the IRA and now participates in Government.
A little bit of history as well. Starting about a thousand years ago or so, England began invading Ireland. They would take hundreds of years to subdue the island, but eventually did. By then, most of the English were Protestant while the Irish remained Catholic. This turned the situation into a religious divide, with Protestants on one side and Catholics on the other. Following world war 1, an election was held in Ireland. The result was as follows
To split it; In the 26 counties that now make up the Republic of Ireland:
Sinn Fien – 69
Nationalist – 2
Unionist – 2