The Context and Development of Irish Literature:
History, Poetry, Landscape

The Northern Ireland Crisis, continued

A number of political solutions to "the Troubles" were attempted throughout the 1970's:  the British government suspended direct rule from Northern Ireland (whose government was based at Stormont in Belfast, below) and commenced direct rule from Westminster in 1972; the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 attempted to to set up a power-sharing agreement between unionists, nationalists, Great Britain, and Ireland, but it was challenged by strong protests by unionists, PIRA violence, and finally a loyalist general strike caused its collapse in May 1974; a power-sharing executive was formed in 1974, and in the early 1980's a "rolling devolution" plan was attempted.  None of these efforts met with success, as extremism and intransigence resisted every form of compromise and political diplomacy.

Resource: 14220

Stormont, original house of the Northern Ireland parliament

Catholics in Northern Ireland continued to suffer under oppression and injustice, and the Provisional IRA mounted consistent attacks on Unionist and British forces throughout the North and in England.  The captured IRA prisoners were confined in the infamous "Maze" prison, also known as Long Kesh, and housed with the general prison population.  Beginning in 1981, these prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their treatment and demand being recognized as political prisoners.  The most famous of the hunger strikers, Bobby Sands, finally died after refusing food for 66 days.  During this time Sands was elected the Member of Parliament for the Fermanagh/South Tryone constituency, defeating the Unionist opponent.  In response, the British enacted a law that forbad prisoners from standing for election.  Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to concede to the prisoners' demands for fair treatment.  Sands's funeral route was attended by over 75,000 people, and his martyrdom, along with that of 9 other hunger strikers who perished that year, further enflamed the tensions in Northern Ireland.

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