Do you agree that divided loyalties was the most important factor that led to the tension in Northern Ireland? Explain your answer. I agree that divided loyalties was an important factor that led to the tension in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, most Protestants regard themselves as British whereas Catholics see themselves as Irish. This difference in beliefs and loyalties is the basis that leads to the tension as the people do not regard themselves as people of the same country.
Most Protestants do not want a union with Ireland as they are afraid that a Catholic government would not be tolerant of their beliefs. On the other hand, the Catholics resent the brutal killings and harsh treatment by the Protestants in the Battle of Boyne whereas the Protestants celebrate the Protestant victory in the battle. These senses of loyalty towards different countries make the Protestants and Catholics intolerant of each other, leading to the tension and hostility of the two religious groups.
Apart from the divided loyalties, there are other important factors like voting rights and unequal employment opportunities which explains the tension between the Protestants and the Catholics. Before1969, the entitlement to vote was based on one’s ownership of houses and businesses. Each household is entitled two votes whereas businesses were entitled to votes based on their size. The bigger the business, the more votes they had.
As many of these big companies and businesses were owned by the richer Protestants, the Protestants ended up with more votes than the poorer Catholics population. The Protestants are not keen on the idea of having a Catholic government and thus created such an unequal voting system to ensure that the Protestant government would be elected, because they imagine the Catholics being intolerant of their Protestant beliefs and loyalty towards British instead of the Republic of Ireland.
In addition, the Catholics were most unhappy that voting districts were discriminated by this unfair voting system. As a result, the unhappiness of the Catholics leads to anger and hatred towards the Protestants, finally leading to the tension. Unequal employment opportunity is another cause of tension between the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland. The rate of unemployment in Northern Ireland was higher for the Catholics than the Protestants.
The Catholics also feel that although they may be as academically qualified as the Protestants, they don’t have equal opportunities to get the jobs that they what, especially in the government sector, as compared to the Protestants. The Catholics found it harder to enter workforce. Due to their loyal towards different nations, the Protestants also tend to employ people from their own religious group, to show their prejudice and discrimination towards the Catholics.
This caused great resentment among the Catholics as they felt that they were treated unfairly and this was a serious issue as it affected their livelihood and standard of living. The Catholics wanted equal employment opportunities and resented the discrimination. The resentment builds up anger and hostility towards the Protestants, leading to the tension between both groups. Finally, I agree that divided loyalties was the most important factor that led to the tension in Northern Ireland.
If the Protestants and Catholics don’t see themselves as one united people and their prejudice and hostility towards each others continue to tense, reconciliation would be very difficult and it would take a few generations and a lot more effort before the Protestants and Catholics could co-exist peacefully. The voting policies can be improved, more employment opportunities can be created. However, if these changes are done for the better and the people are still loyal towards different countries, the changes will do little use and the tension will not be eased.