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Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom.Situated in the northeast of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. HP Pavilion dv5 Adapter

At the time of the 2001 UK Census, its population was 1,685,000, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland consists of six of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster. Sony NP-F330 Battery

It was created as a distinct division of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, though its constitutional roots lie in the 1800 Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. For over 50 years it had its own devolved government and parliament. Asus Eee PC 904HA Adapter

These institutions were suspended in 1972 and abolished in 1973. Repeated attempts to restore self-government finally resulted in the establishment in 1998 of the present-day Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly operates on consociational democracy principles requiring cross-community support.Nikon D80  Battery

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict—the Troubles—which was caused by divisions betweennationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and unionists, who are predominantly Protestant, which has been the most prevalent religion. Sony PCGA-AC19V9 Adapter

Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain as a part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists wish for it to be politically reunited with the rest of Ireland, independent of British rule. Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns.Dell T555C battery

Owing to its unique history, the issue of the symbolism, name and description of Northern Ireland is complex, as is the issue of citizenship and identity. In general, unionists consider themselves British and nationalists see themselves as Irish, though these identities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.HP Pavilion DV6-3013SL battery


The region that is now Northern Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish war of resistance against English programmes of colonialism in the late 16th century. The English-controlled Kingdom of Ireland had been declared by the English king Henry VIII in 1542, but Irish resistance made English control fragmentary.HP Pavilion DV7-2085EL battery

Following Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale, though, the region's Gaelic, Roman Catholic aristocracy fled to continental Europe in 1607 and the region became subject to major programmes of colonialism by Protestant English (mainly Anglican) and Scottish (mainly Presbyterian) settlers. HP Pavilion DV9700 battery

Between 1610 and 1717 perhaps as many as 100,000 Lowlanders came across from Scotland, and by the latter date there were some five Scots to every three Irishmen and one Englishman in Ulster.A rebellion in 1641 by Irish aristocrats against English rule resulted in a massacre of settlers in Ulster in the context of a war breaking out between England,HP Mini 702EA battery

Scotland and Ireland fuelled by religious intolerance in government. Victories by English forces in that war and further Protestant victories in the Williamite War in Ireland toward the close of the 17th century solidified Anglican rule in Ireland. In Northern Ireland,HP Pavilion DV7-1120EO battery

the iconic victories of the Siege of Derry (1689) and the Battle of the Boyne (1690) in this latter war are still celebrated today by the Unionist community (both Anglican and Presbyterian).

Following the victory of 1691, and contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, a series of penal laws was passed by the Anglican ruling class in Ireland.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

Their intention was to materially disadvantage the Catholic community and, to a lesser extent, the Presbyterian community. In the context of open institutional discrimination, the 18th century saw secret, militant societies develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks.HP Pavilion DV6-1030US battery

These events escalated at the end of the century following an event known as the Battle of the Diamond, which saw the supremacy of the Anglican and Presbyterian Peep o'Day Boys over the CatholicDefenders and leading to the formation of the (Anglican) Orange Order. HP Compaq 490306-001 battery

A rebellion in 1798 led by the cross-community Belfast-based Society of the United Irishmen and inspired by the French Revolution sought to break the constitutional ties between Ireland and Britain and unite Irishmen and -women of all communities. HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM battery

Following this, in an attempt to quell sectarianism and force the removal of discriminatory laws (and to prevent the spread of French-style republicanism to Ireland), the government of the Kingdom of Great Britain pushed for the two kingdoms to be merged. The new state, formed in 1801, HP EliteBook 2530P battery

the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was governed from a single government and parliament based in London.

Between 1717 and 1775 some 250,000 people from Ulster emigrated to the American colonies. It is estimated that there are more than 27 million descendants of the Scots-Irish migration now living in the U.S. HP Pavilion DV4385EA battery

Partition of Ireland

Following this, those who supported the continued union between Ireland and Great Britain are known as unionists. In what is now Northern Ireland, these were mainly Protestant (both Anglican and Presbyterian). Compaq PP2100 battery

During the 19th century, legal reforms started in the late 18th century removed legal discrimination against Catholics and progressive programmes enabled farmers to buy back land from landlords. By the close of the century, the possibility of autonomy for Ireland within the United Kingdom, known as home rule, was imminent. HP Compaq KU532AA battery

In 1912, it became a certainty. A clash between the House of Commons and House of Lords over a controversial budget produced the Parliament Act 1911, which enabled the veto of the Lords to be overturned. The House of Lords veto had been unionists' main guarantee that home rule would not be enacted because the majority members of the House of Lords were unionist.HP Pavilion DV6-1270EQ battery

In response, opponents to home rule, from Conservative Party leaders from Andrew Bonar Law and Dublin-based barrister Sir Edward Carson to militant unionists in Ireland, threatened the use of violence. In 1914, they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition fromImperial Germany for the use by the Ulster Volunteers, HP Pavilion DV4385EA battery

a paramilitary organisation opposed to the implementation of home rule.

Unionists were in a minority on the island of Ireland as a whole, but were a majority in the northern province of Ulster and a very large majority in County Antrim and County Down, with small majorities in the County Armagh and County Londonderry.HP Compaq Business  NC4400 battery

There were substantial numbers also concentrated in County Fermanagh and County Tyrone. These six counties would later constitute Northern Ireland.

In 1914, the Third Home Rule Act, which contained provision for a "temporary" partition of these six counties from the rest of Ireland, received Royal Assent.HP Pavilion ZD8227 battery

However, its implementation was suspended before it came into effect owing to the outbreak of the First World War. The war was expected to last only a few weeks but in fact lasted four years. By the end of the war, the act was seen as unimplementable. HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM battery

Public opinion in the majority "nationalist" community (who sought greater independence from Britain) had shifted during the war from a demand for home rule to one for full independence. In 1919, David Lloyd Georgeproposed a new bill which would divide Ireland into two home rule areas:Nikon D200 Battery

twenty-six counties being ruled from Dublin and six being ruled from Belfast. Straddling these two areas would be a shared Lord Lieutenant of Ireland who would appoint both governments and a Council of Ireland, which Lloyd George believed would evolve into an all-Ireland parliament.Acer PA-1650-02 Adapter

Events had however overtaken government. In the general election of 1918, the pro-independence Sinn Féin won seventy-three of the one hundred and five parliamentary seats in Ireland and established an extrajudicial parliament in Ireland.Sony CYBER-SHOT DSC-T10  Battery

Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in 1921 under the terms of Lloyd George's Government of Ireland Act 1920 during the war of independence between Ireland and Britain. At the conclusion of that war on 6 December 1922, under the terms of the resulting treaty,HP Compaq Business 6715b Battery

Northern Ireland provisionally became an autonomous part of the newly independent Irish Free State.

Northern Ireland

However, as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland resolved the following day to opt out of the Irish Free State at the earliest possible opportunity (one month later). Kodak KLIC-7004 Battery

Shortly afterwards, a commission was established to decide on the territorial boundaries between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Owing to the outbreak of civil war in the Free State, the work of the commission was delayed until 1925.Acer Aspire 5920G Adapter

Leaders in Dublin expected a substantial reduction in the territory of Northern Ireland, with nationalist areas moving to the Free State. However the commission decided against this and its report recommended that some small portions of land should be ceded from the Free State to Northern Ireland.Canon Digital IXUS 90 IS Battery

To prevent argument, this report was suppressed and, in exchange for a waiver to the Free State's obligations to the UK's public debt and the dissolution of the Council of Ireland (sought by the Government of Northern Ireland), and the initial six-county border was maintained with minor changes.HP 2133 Mini-Note PC Adapter

In June 1940, to encourage the Irish state to join with the Allies, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill indicated to theTaoiseach Éamon de Valera that the United Kingdom would push for Irish unity, but believing that Churchill could not deliver, de Valera declined the offer.Toshiba PA3536U-1BRS Battery

(The British did not inform the Government of Northern Ireland that they had made the offer to the Dublin government, and De Valera's rejection was not publicised until 1970).

The Ireland Act 1949 gave the first legal guarantee to the Parliament and Government that Northern Ireland would not cease to be part of the United Kingdom without consent of the majority of its citizens.HP Compaq Business NX6110 Battery

The Troubles, starting in the late 1960s, consisted of about thirty years of recurring acts of intense violence between elements of Northern Ireland's nationalistcommunity (principally Roman Catholic) and unionist community (principally Protestant) during which 3,254 people were killed.HP Pavilion DV9000 Adapter

The conflict was caused by the disputed status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom and the discrimination against the nationalist minority by the dominant unionist majority. From 1967 to 1972 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association led a campaign of civil resistance against discrimination, Dell Studio 1537 battery

modelling itself on the US civil rights movement, but NICRA's campaign, and the reaction to it, proved to be a precursor to a more violent period. As early as 1969, armed campaigns of paramilitary groups began, including the Provisional IRA campaign of 1969-1997 which was aimed at the end of British rule in Northern Ireland and the creation of a new "all-Ireland",HP PPP009H Adapter

"thirty-two county" Irish Republic, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, formed in 1966 in response to the perceived erosion of both the British character and unionist domination of Northern Ireland. The state security forces—the British Army and the police (the Royal Ulster Constabulary)—were also involved in the violence. Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

The British government's point of view is that its forces were neutral in the conflict, trying to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland and the right of the people of Northern Ireland to democratic self-determination. Irish republicans regarded the state forces as "combatants" in the conflict, Dell PA-12 Adapter

alleging collusion between the state forces and the loyalist paramilitaries as proof of this (loyalists are against the union of Ireland). The "Ballast" investigation by the Police Ombudsman has confirmed that British forces, and in particular the RUC, did collude with loyalist paramilitaries,Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T7/B  Battery

were involved in murder, and did obstruct the course of justice when such claims had previously been investigated, although the extent to which such collusion occurred is still hotly disputed.

As a consequence of the worsening security situation, autonomous regional government for Northern Ireland was suspended in 1972.Dell LATITUDE M65 Battery

Alongside the violence, there was a political deadlock between the major political parties in Northern Ireland, including those who condemned violence, over the future status of Northern Ireland and the form of government there should be within Northern Ireland. HP Compaq 6720s Adapter

In 1973,Northern Ireland held a referendum to determine if it should remain in the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland. The vote went heavily in favour (98.9%) of maintaining the status quo with approximately 57.5% of the total electorate voting in support, but only 1% of Catholics voted following a boycott organised by the SDLP.Acer AS07B41 Battery

Recent history

The Troubles were brought to an uneasy end by a peace process which included the declaration of ceasefires by most paramilitary organisations and the complete decommissioning of their weapons, Dell Vostro 1310 Battery

the reform of the police, and the corresponding withdrawal of army troops from the streets and from sensitive border areas such as South Armagh and Fermanagh, as agreed by the signatories to the Belfast Agreement (commonly known as the "Good Friday Agreement").HP Compaq Business 6910p Battery

This reiterated the long-held British position, which had never before been fully acknowledged by successive Irish governments, that Northern Ireland will remain within the United Kingdom until a majority votes otherwise. Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Irish state, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ4S Battery

was amended in 1999 to remove a claim of the "Irish nation" to sovereignty over the whole of Ireland (in Article 2), a claim qualified by an acknowledgement that Ireland could only exercise legal control over the territory formerly known as the Irish Free State. The new Articles 2 and 3, Dell PA-12 Adapter

added to the Constitution to replace the earlier articles, implicitly acknowledge that the status of Northern Ireland, and its relationships within the rest of the United Kingdom and with Ireland, would only be changed with the agreement of a majority of voters in both jurisdictions (Ireland voting separately). Sony NP-FH100 Battery

This aspect was also central to the Belfast Agreement which was signed in 1998 and ratified by referendums held simultaneously in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. At the same time, the British Government recognised for the first time, as part of the prospective, the so-called "Irish dimension": Toshiba Equium M50-192 Battery

the principle that the people of the island of Ireland as a whole have the right, without any outside interference, to solve the issues between North and South by mutual consent. The latter statement was key to winning support for the agreement from nationalists and republicans.Apple MacBook Pro Battery

It also established a devolved power-sharing government within Northern Ireland, which must consist of both unionist and nationalist parties.

These institutions were suspended by the British Government in 2002 after Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) allegations of spying by people working for Sinn Féin at the Assembly (Stormontgate). Apple PowerBook G4 Battery

The resulting case against the accused Sinn Féin member collapsed.

On 28 July 2005, the Provisional IRA declared an end to its campaign and has since decommissioned what is thought to be all of its arsenal. Acer BATBL50L6 Battery

This final act of decommissioning was performed in accordance with the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and under the watch of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and two external church witnesses. Many unionists, however, remain sceptical.Canon EOS 450D Battery

This IRA decommissioning is in contrast to Loyalist paramilitaries who have so far refused to decommission many weapons. It is not thought that this will have a major effect on further political progress as political parties linked to Loyalist paramilitaries do not attract significant support and will not be in a position to form part of a government in the near future. Acer Travelmate 2400 Battery

Sinn Féin, on the other hand, with their (real and perceived) links to militant republicanism, are the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland.

Politicians elected to the Assembly at the 2003 Assembly Election were called together on 15 May 2006 under the Dell Inspiron 1525 Adapter

Northern Ireland Act 2006 for the purpose of electing a First Minister of Northern Ireland and a Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and choosing the members of an Executive (before 25 November 2006) as a preliminary step to the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.Compaq Presario 2100 Adapter

Following the election held on 7 March 2007, devolved government returned to Northern Ireland on 8 May 2007 with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin deputy leaderMartin McGuinness taking office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively.Acer Aspire 1362 Battery

The current First Minister is Peter Robinson, having taken over as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Government and politics

Northern Ireland has devolved government within the United Kingdom. There is a Northern Ireland Executive together with the 108-member Toshiba Equium M50-192 Battery

Northern Ireland Assembly to deal with devolved matters with the UK Government and UK Parliament responsible for reserved matters. Elections to the Assembly are by single transferable vote with 6 representatives elected for each of the 18 Westminster constituencies.Dell XPS M1330 Battery

Northern Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction, separate from England, Wales and Scotland. It is also an electoral region of the European Union.

Northern Ireland elects 18 Members of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons; not all take their seats, however, as theSinn Féin MPs (currently five) refuse to take the oath to serve the Queen that is required of all MPs. Acer Travelmate 2200 Adapter

The Northern Ireland Office represents the UK government in Northern Ireland on reserved matters and represents Northern Irish interests within the UK government. The Northern Ireland office is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.HP Compaq 6735b Adapter

The main political divide in Northern Ireland is between Unionists or Loyalists who wish to see Northern Ireland continue as part of the United Kingdom and Nationalists or Republicans who wish to see Northern Ireland join the rest of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom.Dell Vostro 1000 Battery

These two opposing views are linked to deeper cultural divisions. Unionists are overwhelmingly Protestant, descendants of mainly Scottish, English, Welsh and Huguenot settlers as well as Old GaelicIrishmen who had converted to one of the Protestant denominations. HP Compaq nx7300 Adapter

Nationalists are predominantly Catholic and descend from the population predating the settlement, with a minority from Scottish Highlanders as well as some converts from Protestantism. Discrimination against nationalists under the Stormont government (1921–1972) gave rise to the nationalistcivil rights movement in the 1960s.Asus f82 battery

Some Unionists argue that any discrimination was not just due to religious or political bigotry, but also the result of more complex socio-economic, socio-political and geographical factors. Whatever the cause, the existence of discrimination, and the manner in which Nationalist anger at it was handled, Dell XPS M1330 Battery

were a major contributing factor which led to the long-running conflict known as the Troubles. The political unrest went through its most violent phase between 1968 and 1994.

As of 2007, 36% of the population define themselves as Unionist, 24% as Nationalist and 40% define themselves as neither.HP Compaq Business 6910p Battery

According to a 2009 opinion poll, 69% express longterm preference of the maintenance of Northern Ireland's membership of the United Kingdom (either directly ruled or with devolved government), while 21% express a preference for membership of a united Ireland.Compaq PRESARIO R3000 Battery

This discrepancy can be explained by the overwhelming preference among Protestants to remain a part of the UK (91%), while Catholic preferences are spread across a number of solutions to the constitutional question including remaining a part of the UK (47%), a united Ireland (40%), HP Compaq Business NX6110 Battery

Northern Ireland becoming an independent state (5%), and those who "don't know" (5%). Official voting figures, which reflect views on the "national question" along with issues of candidate, geography, personal loyalty and historic voting patterns, show 54% of Northern Ireland voters vote for Pro-Unionist parties, Dell Latitude D610 Adapter

42% vote for Pro-Nationalist parties and 4% vote "other". Opinion polls consistently show that the election results are not necessarily an indication of the electorate's stance regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

Most of the population of Northern Ireland are at least nominally Christian. Asus Eee PC 701 Adapter

The ethno-political loyalties are allied, though not absolutely, to the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations and these are the labels used to categorise the opposing views. This is, however, becoming increasingly irrelevant as the Irish Question is very complicated. HP Compaq Business NX6325 Battery

Many voters (regardless of religious affiliation) are attracted to Unionism's conservative policies, while other voters are instead attracted to the traditionally leftist, nationalist Sinn Féin and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and their respective party platforms for Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy. Dell Studio XPS 16 battery

For the most part, Protestants feel a strong connection with Great Britain and wish for Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Catholics however, generally aspire to a United Ireland or are less certain about how to solve the constitutional question. Acer Aspire 5520 Battery

In the 2009 survey by Northern Ireland Life and Times, 47% of Northern Irish Catholics supported Northern Ireland remaining a part of the United Kingdom, either by direct rule (8%) or devolved government (39%).

Protestants have a slight majority in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Northern Ireland Census. Acer TravelMate 5720 Adapter

The make-up of the Northern Ireland Assembly reflects the appeals of the various parties within the population. Of the 108 MLAs, 55 are Unionists and 44 are Nationalists (the remaining nine are classified as "other").

Citizenship and identity

As part of the United Kingdom, people from Northern Ireland are British citizens. HP Compaq 6735s Adapter

They are also entitled to Irish citizenship by birth which is covered in the 1998 Belfast Agreement between the British and Irish governments, which, provides that: it is the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose,Dell XPS M1330 Battery

and accordingly [the two governments] confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland was amended so that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens on the same basis as people from any other part of the island of Ireland.HP Compaq nc6230 Adapter

Neither government, however, extends its citizenship to all persons born in Northern Ireland. Both governments exclude some people born in Northern Ireland (e.g. certain persons born in Northern Ireland neither of whose parents is a UK or Irish national). The Irish restriction was given effect by the Twenty-seventh amendment to the Irish Constitution in 2004.Dell T117C battery

Several studies and surveys performed between 1971 and 2006 have indicated that, in general, Protestants in Northern Ireland see themselves primarily as 'British', whereas Roman Catholics regard themselves primarily as 'Irish'.

This does not however, account for the complex identities within Northern Ireland, Asus x5dij-sx039c battery

given that many of the population regard themselves as "Ulster" or "Northern Irish", either primarily, or as a secondary identity. A 2008 survey found that 57% of Protestants described themselves as British, while 32% identified as Northern Irish, 6% as Ulster and 4% as Irish. Dell Inspiron 1464 battery

Compared to the same survey carried out in 1998 this shows a fall in the percentage of Protestants identifying as British and Ulster, and a rise in those identifying as Northern Irish. The 2008 survey found that 61% of Catholics described themselves as Irish, with 25% identifying as Northern Irish, 8% as British and 1% as Ulster. HP Compaq 6720s Adapter

These figures were largely unchanged from the 1998 results.


The population of Northern Ireland was estimated as being 1,759,000 on 10 December 2008. Dell Latitude D630 Adapter

In the 2001 census, 45.57% of the population identified as belonging to Protestant or other non-Roman Catholic denominations (20.69% Presbyterian, 15.30% Church of Ireland, 3.51%Methodist, 6.07% other Christian/Christian related), 40.26% identified as Roman Catholic, 0.30% identified with non-Christian religions and 13.88% identified with no religion.HP Pavilion dm4 battery

In terms of community background, 53.1% of the Northern Irish population came from a Protestant background, 43.8% came from a Catholic background, 0.4% from non-Christian backgrounds and 2.7% non-religious backgrounds. The population is forecast to pass the 1.8 million mark by 2011.Sony NP-FS11 Battery

Symbols used in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland comprises a patchwork of communities whose national loyalties are represented in some areas by flags flown from lamp posts. The Union Flagand the former Northern Ireland Flag are flown in some loyalist areas, and the Tricolour, adopted by republicans as the flag of Ireland in 1848, is flown in some republican areas. Dell Inspiron 1520 Adapter

Even kerbstones in some areas are painted red-white-blue or green-white-orange (or gold), depending on whether local people express unionist/loyalist or nationalist/republican sympathies.

The official flag is the Union Flag.  The Northern Ireland flag was previously the former Governmental Northern Ireland banner (also known as the "Ulster Banner" or "Red Hand Flag"). Toshiba PA3399U-1BRS Battery

It was based on the arms of the former Parliament of Northern Ireland, and was used officially by the Government of Northern Ireland and its agencies between 1953 and 1972. Since 1972, it has had no official status. UK flags policy states that in Northern Ireland:Acer Aspire 5920G Adapter

The Ulster flag and the Cross of St. Patrick have no official status and, under the Flags Regulations, are not permitted to be flown from Government Buildings.

The Union Flag and the Ulster Banner are mainly used by Unionists.Acer Aspire 5920 Battery

The Irish Rugby Football Union and the Church of Ireland have used the Flag of St. Patrick. It was used to represent Ireland when the whole island was part of the UK and is used by some British army regiments. Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinian flags in some Nationalist areas and Israeli flags in some Unionist areas. IBM Thinkpad T40 Adapter

This is also true during matches with Scottish teams.

The United Kingdom national anthem of "God Save the Queen" is often played at state events in Northern Ireland. At the Commonwealth Games, the Northern Ireland team uses the Ulster Banner as its flag and Londonderry Air (usually set to lyrics as Danny Boy) is used as its national anthem.Nikon COOLPIX 4300 Battery

The Northern Ireland football team also uses the Ulster Banner as its flag but uses "God Save The Queen" as its national anthem.[58]Major Gaelic Athletic Association matches are opened by the Republic of Ireland national anthem, "Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song)", which is also used by some other all-Ireland sporting organisations.Apple MB771 battery

Since 1995, the Ireland rugby union team has used a specially commissioned song, "Ireland's Call" as the team's anthem. The Republic of Ireland national anthem is also played at Dublin home matches as a courtesy to the host country. Sony DSC-P5 Battery

Northern Irish murals have become well-known features of Northern Ireland, depicting past and present divisions, both also documenting peace and cultural diversity. Almost 2,000 murals have been documented in Northern Ireland since the 1970s (see Conflict Archive on the Internet/Murals).Dell Inspiron 6400 Adapter

Geography and climate

Northern Ireland was covered by an ice sheet for most of the last ice age and on numerous previous occasions, the legacy of which can be seen in the extensive coverage of drumlins in Counties Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and particularly Down. Toshiba PA3534U-1BRS Battery

The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh, at 151 square miles (391 km2) the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh. Sony NP-FP50 Battery

The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 150 km2(58 sq mi).

There are substantial uplands in the Sperrin Mountains HP Compaq nx7300 Adapter

(an extension of the Caledonian fold mountains) with extensive gold deposits,granite Mourne Mountains and basalt Antrim Plateau, as well as smaller ranges in South Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. None of the hills are especially high, with Slieve Donard in the dramatic Mournes reaching 849 metres (2,785 ft), Northern Ireland's highest point.Dell Latitude D820 Adapter

Belfast's most prominent peak is Cavehill. The volcanic activity which created the Antrim Plateau also formed the eerily geometric pillars of the Giant's Causeway on the north Antrim coast. Also in north Antrim are the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Mussenden Temple and the Glens of Antrim.Toshiba PA3399U-1BRS Battery

The Lower and Upper River Bann, River Foyle and River Blackwater form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry.Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery

The valley of the River Lagan is dominated by Belfast, whose metropolitan area includes over a third of the population of Northern Ireland, with heavy urbanisation and industrialisation along the Lagan Valley and both shores of Belfast Lough.Dell Latitude D830 Battery

The whole of Northern Ireland has a temperate maritime climate, rather wetter in the west than the east, although cloud cover is persistent across the region. The weather is unpredictable at all times of the year, and although the seasons are distinct, they are considerably less pronounced than in interior Europe or the eastern seaboard of North America.Dell Inspiron E1505 Adapter

Average daytime maximums in Belfast are 6.5 °C (43.7 °F) in January and 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) in July. The damp climate and extensive deforestation in the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in much of the region being covered in rich green grassland.

Highest maximum temperature: 30.8 °C (87.4 °F) at Knockarevan, near Garrison, County Fermanagh on 30 June 1976 and at Belfast on 12 July 1983.Asus Eee PC 1201PN battery


Northern Ireland consists of six historic counties: County Antrim, County Armagh, County Down, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone

These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead there are twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland which have different geographical extents,Dell PA-12 Adapter

even in the case of those named after the counties from which they derive their name. Fermanagh District Council most closely follows the borders of the county from which it takes its name. Most districts are based around large towns, for instance Coleraine Borough Council derives its name from the town of Coleraine in County Londonderry.Asus Eee PC 701 Adapter

Although counties are no longer used for governmental purpose, they remain a popular means of describing where places are. They are officially used while applying for an Irish passport, which requires one to state one's county of birth. The name of county then appears in both Irish and English on the passport's information page, Dell XPS M1330 Battery

as opposed to the town or city of birth on the United Kingdom passport. The Gaelic Athletic Association still uses the counties as its primary means of organisation and fields representative teams of each GAA county. The original system of car registration numbers largely based on counties still remains in use. fujifilm np95 battery

In 2000 the telephone numbering system was restructured into an 8 digit scheme with the first digit reflecting the county.

The county boundaries still appear on Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Maps and the Phillips Street Atlases, among others. Asus Eee PC 900 Adapter

With their decline in official use, there is often confusion surrounding towns and cities which lie near county boundaries, such as Belfast and Lisburn, which are split between counties Down and Antrim (the majorities of both cities, however, are in Antrim).Sony VAIO PCG-713 Battery


Northern Ireland's legal and administrative systems have evolved from those in place in the pre-partition United Kingdom, and were developed by its devolved government from 1921 until 1972. Dell Latitude D830 Adapter

From 1972 until 1999 (except for a brief period in 1974), laws and administration relating to Northern Ireland were handled directly from Westminster. Between the years 1999 and 2002 (except during a brief suspension), and since May 2007, devolution has returned to Northern Ireland.Dell Studio XPS 1640 battery


The Northern Ireland economy is the smallest of the four economies making up the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has traditionally had an industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services, primarily the public sector.Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ4S  Battery

Tourism also plays a big role in the local economy. More recently the economy has benefited from major investment by many large multi-national corporations into high tech industry. These large organisations are attracted by government subsidies and the skilled workforce in Northern Ireland.HP Compaq Business NX6320 Battery


Northern Ireland is served by three airports - Belfast International near Antrim, George Best Belfast City in East Belfast, and City of Derry in County Londonderry.

Major sea ports at Larne and Belfast carry passengers and freight between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Canon POWERSHOT G2 Battery

Passenger railways are operated by Northern Ireland Railways. With Iarnrod Éireann (Irish Rail), Northern Ireland Railways co-operates in providing the joint Enterpriseservice between Dublin and Belfast.

Main motorways are:  Dell Latitude E6500 battery

  • M1 connecting Belfast to the south and west, ending in Dungannon
  • M12 connecting the M1 to Portadown
  • M2 connecting Belfast to the north. An unconnected section of the M2 also by-passes Ballymena
  • M22 connecting the M2 to near Randalstown
  • M3 connecting the M1 and M2 in Belfast with the A2 dual carriageway to Bangor
  • M5 connecting Belfast to Newtownabbey Dell LATITUDE D630 Battery

The cross-border road connecting the ports of Larne in Northern Ireland and Rosslare Harbour in the Republic of Ireland is being upgraded as part of an EU-funded scheme. European route E01 runs from Larne through the island of Ireland, Spain and Portugal to Seville.Asus R33030 Adapter


With its improved international reputation, Northern Ireland has recently witnessed rising numbers of tourists. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, public houses, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing). Dell Mini 1011 battery

Since 1987public houses have been allowed to open on Sundays, despite some opposition.

The Ulster Cycle is a large body of prose and verse centring around the traditional heroes of the Ulaid in what is now eastern Ulster. This is one of the four major cycles of Irish Mythology. toshiba pa3332u-1brs battery

The cycle centres around the reign of Conchobar mac Nessa, who is said to have been king of Ulster around the time of Christ. He ruled from Emain Macha (now Navan Fort near Armagh), and had a fierce rivalry with queen Medb and king Ailill of Connacht and their ally, Fergus mac Róich, former king of Ulster. HP Compaq 6710b Adapter

The foremost hero of the cycle is Conchobar's nephew Cúchulainn.


The dialect of English spoken in Northern Ireland shows influence from the lowland Scots language. HP Compaq nx6325 Adapter

There are supposedly some minute differences in pronunciation between Protestants and Catholics, the best known of which is the name of the letter h, which Protestants tend to pronounce as "aitch", as inBritish English, and Catholics tend to pronounce as "haitch", as in Hiberno-English. Acer Aspire 5720 Adapter

However, geography is a much more important determinant of dialect than religious background. English is spoken as a first language by almost 100% of the Northern Irish population, though under the Good Friday Agreement, Irishand Ulster Scots (one of the dialects of the Scots language), sometimes known as Ullans, have recognition as "part of the cultural wealth of Northern Ireland".Toshiba Equium A110-252 Battery


The Irish language (Gaeilge) is the native language of the whole island of Ireland.It was spoken predominantly throughout what is now Northern Ireland before the Ulster Plantations in the

17th century. Most placenames throughout Northern Ireland are anglicised versions of their Gaelic originals. Acer Aspire 5052ANWXMi Battery

These Gaelic placenames include thousands of lanes, roads, townlands, towns, villages and all of its modern cities. Examples include Belfast- derived from Béal Feirste, Shankill- derived from Sean Cill and Lough Neagh- derived from Loch nEathach.

In Northern Ireland the Irish language has long been associated with Irish nationalism.Dell Mini 1011v battery

The language was seen as a common heritage and indeed the object of affection by many prominent 19th century Protestant republicans and Protestant unionists. There are three main dialects in the island of Ireland—Ulster, Munster and Connacht. Speakers of each dialect often find others difficult to understand.HP Compaq nx7300 Adapter

Speakers in Northern Ireland speak the Ulster dialect.

In the early years of the 20th century, the language became a political football throughout Ireland as Republican activists became increasingly linked with it.Dell Vostro 1510 Battery

In the 20th century, the language became in Unionist eyes increasingly polarised for political ends and many in that community would blame Sinn Féin in this regard. After Ireland was partitioned, the language was largely rejected in the education system of the new Northern Ireland. Toshiba PA3534U-1BRS Battery

It is argued  that the predominant use of the English language may have served to exacerbate the Troubles.

The erection by some Local District Councils of legal bilingual street names (English/Irish),  invariably in predominantly Catholic/Nationalist/Republican districts, Asus M50 battery

may be perceived as creating a 'chill factor' by Unionists and as such not conducive to fostering good cross community relationships. However other countries within the United Kingdom, such as Wales and Scotland, enjoy the use of Bilingual signs in Welsh and Scots Gaelic respectively. Asus Eee PC 901 Battery

Because of this, nationalists in Northern Ireland argue for equality in this regard. In responses to the 2001 census in Northern Ireland 10% of the population claimed "some knowledge of Irish", 4.7% to "speak, read, write and understand" Irish. It was not asked as part of the census but in a poll, 1% of respondents said they speak it as their main language at home.Dell Inspiron 6400 Battery

Following a public consultation, the decision was taken not to introduce specific legislation for the Irish language at this time, despite 75% of the (self-selecting) respondents stating that they were in favour of such legislation.

Ulster Irish or Donegal Irish, is the dialect which is nearest to Scots Gaelic. Some words and phrases of the dialect are shared with Scots Gaelic.HP Compaq Business NC6220 Battery

The dialects of East Ulster - those of Rathlin Island and the Glens of Antrim - were very similar to the Scottish Gaelic dialect formerly spoken in Argyll, the part of Scotland nearest to Rathlin Island. The Ulster Gaelic is the most central dialect of Gaelic, both geographically and linguistically, Sony VGP-BPS9 battery

of the once vast Gaelic speaking world, stretching from the south of Ireland to the north of Scotland. At the beginning of the 20th century, Munster Irish was favoured by many revivalists, with a shift to Connacht Irish in the 1960s, which is now the preferred dialect by many in Ireland.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

Many younger speakers of Irish experience less confusion with dialects due to the expansion of Irish-language broadcasting (TG4) and the exposure to a variety of dialects. There are fewer problems regarding written Irish as there is a standardised spelling and grammar, HP Compaq nx7300 Adapter

created by the Irish Government, which was supposed to reflect a compromise between various dialect forms. However, Ulster Irish speakers find that Ulster forms are generally not favoured by the standard.

All learners of Irish in Northern Ireland use this form of the language. Self-instruction courses in Ulster Irish include Now You’re Talking and Tús maith.HP Compaq 2510p Adapter

The writer Séamus Ó Searcaigh, once warned about the Irish Government's attempts at producing a Caighdeán or Standard for the Irish language in Ireland in 1953, when he wrote that what will emerge will be "Gaedhilg nach mbéidh suim againn inntí mar nár fhás sí go nádúrtha as an teangaidh a thug Gaedhil go hÉirinn"Dell Studio PP39L battery

(A Gaelic which is of no interest to us, for it has not developed naturally from the language brought to Ireland by the Gaels). The Ulster Irish dialect is spoken throughout the area of the historical nine county Ulster, in particular the Gaeltacht region of County Donegal and the Gaeltacht Quarter of West Belfast. Mayo Irish has strong ties with Donegal Irish.Nikon COOLPIX 5700  Battery

Ulster Scots

Ulster Scots comprises varieties of the Scots language spoken in Northern Ireland. Aodán Mac Poilín states that "While most argue that Ulster-Scots is a dialect or variant of Scots, some have argued or implied that Ulster-Scots is a separate language from Scots.Dell Studio XPS 16 battery

The case for Ulster-Scots being a distinct language, made at a time when the status of Scots itself was insecure, is so bizarre that it is unlikely to have been a linguistic argument." Approximately 2% of the population claim to speak Ulster Scots, however the number speaking it as their main language in their home is negligible.HP Compaq nx7400 Adapter

Classes at colleges can now be taken but for a native English speaker "[the language] is comparatively accessible, and even at its most intense can be understood fairly easily with the help of a glossary." The St Andrews Agreement recognises the need to "enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture".HP Pavilion DV6500 Adapter

Sign languages

Three sign languages are used in Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Sign Language (NISL), British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL).Dell T117C battery

The most common sign language in Northern Ireland is British Sign Language (BSL), but as Catholics tended to send their deaf children to schools in Dublin (St Joseph's Institute for Deaf Boys and St. Mary's Institute for Deaf Girls), Irish Sign Language (ISL) is commonly used in the Nationalist community. Acer PA-1650-02 Adapter

The two languages are not related: BSL is in the British family (which also includes Auslan), and ISL is in the French family (which also includes American Sign Language).

NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language (ISL) at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL).Acer Aspire 5920G Adapter

As of March 2004 the British Government recognises only British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used in Northern Ireland.

Other languages

There are an increasing number of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland.Asus S1 Adapter

Chinese and Urdu are spoken by Northern Ireland's Asian communities; though the Chinese community is often referred to as the "third largest" community in Northern Ireland, it is tiny by international standards. Since the accession of new member states to the European Union in 2004,HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery

Central and Eastern European languages, particularly Polish, are becoming increasingly common.

Alternative names for Northern Ireland

Many people inside and outside Northern Ireland use other names for Northern Ireland, depending on their point of view.Ibm Thinkpad T30 Battery

Notwithstanding the ancient realm of Dál Riata which extended into Scotland, disagreement on names, and the reading of political symbolism into the use or non-use of a word, also attaches itself to some urban centres. The most famous example is whether Northern Ireland's second city should be called "Derry" or "Londonderry".Dell Studio PP39L battery

Choice of language and nomenclature in Northern Ireland often reveals the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of the speaker. The first Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Seamus Mallon, was criticised by unionist politicians for calling the region the "North of Ireland" while Sinn Féin has been criticised in some Irish newspapers for still referring to the "Six Counties".HP Pavilion dv5 Adapter

Those who do not belong to any group but lean towards one side often tend to use the language of that group. Supporters of unionism in the British media (notably the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express) regularly call Northern Ireland "Ulster". Some nationalist and republican-leaning media outlets in Ireland almost always use "North of Ireland" or the "Six Counties".HP Compaq Business NC6400 Battery

Government and cultural organisations in Northern Ireland, particularly those pre-dating the 1980s , often use the word "Ulster" in their title; for example, the University of Ulster, the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Orchestra, and BBC Radio Ulster.HP Compaq 490306-001 battery

Although some news bulletins since the 1990s have opted to avoid all contentious terms and use the official name, Northern Ireland, the term "The North" remains commonly used by broadcast media in the Republic, to the annoyance of some Unionists.Compaq Presario CQ35-100 battery

Bertie Ahern, the previous Taoiseach, now almost always refers to "Northern Ireland" in public, having previously only used "The North". For Northern Ireland's second largest city, broadcasting outlets which are unaligned to either community and broadcast to both use both names interchangeably, HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 battery

often starting a report with "Londonderry" and then using "Derry" in the rest of the report. However, within Northern Ireland, print media which are aligned to either community (the News Letter is aligned to the unionist community while the Irish News is aligned to the nationalist community) generally use their community's preferred term.HP Pavilion ZE4500 battery

British newspapers with unionist leanings, such as the Daily Telegraph, usually use the language of the unionist community. However the more left-wing Guardian recommends in its style guide using "Derry" and "Co Derry", and "not Londonderry".

The division in nomenclature is seen particularly in sports and religions associated with one of the communities.HP G62-100EB battery

Gaelic games use "Derry", for example. Nor is there clear agreement on how to decide on a name. When the nationalist-controlled local council voted to re-name the city "Derry" unionists objected, stating that as it owed its city status to a Royal Charter, only a charter issued by the Queen could change the name. HP Pavilion DV6-1211AX battery

The Queen has not intervened on the matter and thus the council is now called the Derry City Council while the city is still officially Londonderry. Nevertheless, the council has printed two sets of stationery - one for each term - and their policy is to reply to correspondence using whichever term the original sender used.HP Pavilion DV6-1220SO battery

At times of high communal tension, each side regularly complains of the use of the nomenclature associated with the other community by a third party such as a media organisation, claiming such usage indicates evident "bias" against their community.HP EliteBook 6930P battery


  • Ulster, strictly speaking, refers to the province of Ulster, of which six of nine historical counties are in Northern Ireland. The term "Ulster" is widely used by the Unionist community and the British press as shorthand for Northern Ireland.HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA battery
  • In the past, calls have been made for Northern Ireland's name to be changed to Ulster. This proposal was formally considered by the Government of Northern Ireland in 1937 and again in 1949 but no change was made.
  • The Province refers literally to the historic Irish province of Ulster but today is used as shorthand for Northern Ireland.Compaq Presario CQ71 battery
  • The BBC, in its editorial guidance for Reporting the United Kingdom, states that "the Province" is an appropriate secondary synonym for Northern Ireland, while "Ulster" is not. It also suggests that "people of Northern Ireland" should be preferred to "British", and the term "mainland" should be avoided in reference to Great Britain in relation to Northern Ireland HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery


  • North of Ireland (Tuaisceart na hÉireann) or North-East Ireland (Oirthuaisceart Éireann)- to emphasize the link of Northern Ireland to the rest of the island, and so by implication playing down Northern Ireland's links with Great Britain. HP G6000 battery
  • The Six Counties (na Sé Chontae) - language used by republicans e.g. Sinn Féin, which avoids using the name given by the British-enacted Government of Ireland Act 1920. (the Republic is similarly described as the Twenty-Six Counties.)HP HDX X18-1005EA battery
  • Some of the users of these terms contend that using the official name of the region would imply acceptance of the legitimacy of the Government of Ireland Act.HP Pavilion DV6-3013SL battery
  • The Occupied Six Counties. The state of Ireland, whose legitimacy is not recognised by republicans opposed to the Belfast Agreement, is described as "The Free State", referring to the Irish Free State, which gained independence (as a Dominion) in 1922.HP Compaq HSTNN-IB62 battery
  • British-Occupied Ireland. Similar in tone to the Occupied Six Counties this term is used by more dogmatic anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans who still hold that the First Dáil was the last legitimate government of Ireland and that all governments since have been foreign imposed usurpations of Irish national self-determination.HP Pavilion DV6100 battery
  • Fourth Green Field (An Cheathrú Gort Glas).  From the song Four Green Fields by Tommy Makem which describes Ireland as divided with one of the four green fields (the traditionalprovinces of Ireland) being In strangers hands, referring to the partition of Ireland.HP EliteBook 2730P battery


  • The North (An Tuaisceart) - used to describe Northern Ireland in the same way that "The South" is used to describe the Republic.
  • Norn Iron - is an informal and affectionate  local nickname used by both nationalists and unionists to refer to Northern Ireland, HP Pavilion DV9000 battery
  • derived from the pronunciation of the words "Northern Ireland" in an exaggerated Ulster accent (particularly one from the Greater Belfast area). The phrase is seen as a light-hearted way to refer to Northern Ireland, based as it is on regional pronunciation. Often refers to the Northern Ireland national football team.HP Pavilion DV7 battery

Descriptions for Northern Ireland

There is no generally accepted term to describe what Northern Ireland is: province, region, country or something else. The choice of term can be controversial and can reveal the writer's political preferences. This has been noted as a problem by several writers on Northern Ireland, with no generally recommended solution.HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery

Owing in part to the way in which the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland came into being, there is no legally defined term to describe what Northern Ireland 'is'. There is also no uniform or guiding way to refer to Northern Ireland amongst the agencies of the UK government.HP Compaq Business 6735S battery

For example, the websites of the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom  and the UK Statistics Authority describe the United Kingdom as being made up of four countries, one of these being Northern Ireland. Other pages  on the same websites refer to Northern Ireland specifically as a "province" as do publications of the UK Statistics Authority.HP 540 battery

The website of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also refers to Northern Ireland as being a province  as does the website of the Office of Public Sector Information  and other agencies within Northern Ireland.  Publications of HM Treasury  and the Department of Finance and Personnel of the Northern Ireland Executive,HP Compaq Business NW9440 battery

on the other hand, describe Northern Ireland as being a "region of the UK". The UK's submission to the 2007 United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names defines the UK as being made up of two countries (England and Scotland), one principality (Wales) and one province (Northern Ireland).HP Compaq Business  TC4400 battery

Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland has no history of being an independent country or of being a nation in its own right. Some writers describe the United Kingdom as being made up of three countries and one province or point out the difficulties with calling Northern Ireland a country.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

Authors writing specifically about Northern Ireland dismiss the idea that Northern Ireland is a "country" in general terms, and draw contrasts in this respect with England, Scotland and Wales. Even for the period covering the first 50 years of Northern Ireland's existence, HP HSTNN-LB31 battery

the term country is considered inappropriate by some political scientists on the basis that many decisions were still made in London. The absence of a distinct nation of Northern Ireland, separate within the island of Ireland, is also pointed out as being a problem with using the term and is in contrast to England, Scotland and Wales. HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM  battery

Many commentators prefer to use the term "province", although that is also not without problems. It can arouse irritation, particularly among nationalists, for whom the title province is properly reserved for the traditional province of Ulster, of which Northern Ireland occupies six out of nine counties.HP Pavilion DV3-4000  battery

The BBC style guide is to refer to Northern Ireland as a province, and use of the term is common in literature and newspaper reports on Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Some authors have described the meaning of this term as being equivocal: referring to Northern Ireland as being a province both of the United Kingdom and of the traditional country of Ireland.HP Pavilion TX1000 battery

"Region" is used by several UK government agencies and the European Union. Some authors choose this word but note that it is "unsatisfactory". Northern Ireland can also be simply described as "part of the UK", including by UK government offices. HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA  battery


In Northern Ireland, sport is popular and important in the lives of many people. Sports tend to be organised on an all-Ireland basis including both Northern Ireland and the Republic, as in the case ofGaelic football, rugby union, hockey, basketball, cricket and hurling.HP 448007-001 battery

The main exception is association football, which has separate governing bodies for each jurisdiction.

Association football (soccer)

The Irish Football Association (IFA) is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland. The highest level of competition within Northern Ireland is the IFA Premiership.HP Compaq Business  6530B  battery

There is also an all-island tournament, the Setanta Cup, which includes four IFA Premiership teams and four teams from the Republic's league. However, the best Northern Irish players tend to play for clubs in Great Britain in the English or Scottish leagues.HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM  battery

Despite Northern Ireland's small population, its international team has had a number of notable successes, including World Cup quarter-final appearances in 1958 and 1982.


Cricket is the fastest growing sport in the country. The Ireland cricket team, which represents both the Republic and Northern Ireland, is an associate member of the International Cricket Council. HP Pavilion DV5-1015EA  battery

It participated in 2007 Cricket World Cup and qualified for the Super 8s and did the same in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20. Ireland are current champions of ICC Intercontinental Cup and the under-19 team is also performing very well.[citation needed] The regular international ground is Stormont in Belfast.HP Pavilion DV6-1230SB battery

Gaelic games

Gaelic games include Gaelic football, hurling, Gaelic handball and rounders. Of the four, football is the most popular in Northern Ireland. Players play for local clubs with the best being selected for their county teams: Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. HP Pavilion ZD8181EA  battery

The Ulster GAA is the branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association that is responsible for all nine counties of Ulster, including the six that are in Northern Ireland. All nine field teams in the Ulster Senior Football Championship, Ulster Senior Hurling Championship, All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. HP Pavilion DV9500  battery

Recent successes for Northern Ireland's teams include Armagh's 2002 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship win and Tyrone's wins in 2003, 2005 and 2008.


Northern Ireland has a number of golf courses, such as the Royal Belfast Golf Club (the earliest, formed in 1881), HP Pavilion DV4-1125BR  battery

Royal Portrush Golf Club (the only course outside of Great Britain to have hosted The Open Championship), and Royal County Down Golf Club (Golf Digest magazine's top-rated course outside the United States).

Notable golfers include Darren Clarke, Fred Daly (winner of The Open in 1947), Graeme McDowell (winner of the U.S. Open in 2010, the first European since 1970) and Rory McIlroy.HP Pavilion DV5-1111EA Battery

Rugby union

Northern Ireland's six counties are among the nine governed by the Ulster branch of the all-island governing body, the Irish Rugby Football Union. Ulster is one of the four professional provincial teams in the island of Ireland and competes in the Celtic League and European Cup. Ulster won the European Cup in 1999.HP Pavilion DV6-1234TX battery

In international competition, players from Northern Ireland represent the Ireland national rugby team, whose recent successes include four Triple Crowns between 2004 and 2009 and a Grand Slam in 2009.


Northern Ireland has produced two world snooker champions, notably the late Alex Higgins who won the title in 1972 and again in 1982 and Dennis Taylor who won the world crown in 1985.HP Pavilion DV3-2008TX  battery

The hightest ranked Northern Ireland professional on the world circuit presently is Mark Allen from Antrim. The sport is governed locally by the Northern Ireland Billiards & Snooker Association who run regular ranking tournaments and competitions and are recognised by Sports Council NI as the governing body for snooker in Northern Ireland.HP Pavilion DV8  battery


Education in Northern Ireland differs slightly from systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of primary school children sit the eleven plus transfer test, and the results determine whether they attend grammar schools or secondary schools.HP Pavilion DV6-1215SA  battery

This system was due to be changed in 2008 amidst some controversy, with the exception of north Armagh where the Dickson Plan is in effect. The eleven plus has since been abolished with the majority of Grammar schools now holding their own entry test, Secondary pupils are not required to take such a test for entry.HP Compaq 490306-001  battery

Northern Ireland's state (controlled) schools are open to all children in Northern Ireland, although in practice are mainly attended by those from Protestant or non-religious backgrounds. There is a separate publicly funded school system provided for Roman Catholics,Compaq Presario CQ50  battery

although Roman Catholics are free to attend state schools (and some non-Roman Catholics attend Roman Catholic schools). Integrated schools, which attempt to ensure a balance in enrolment between pupils of Protestant, Roman Catholic and other faiths (or none) are becoming increasingly popular, HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO  battery

although Northern Ireland still has a primarily de factoreligiously segregated education system. In the primary school sector, forty schools (8.9% of the total number) are Integrated Schools and thirty two (7.2% of the total number) are Gaelscoileanna.HP Compaq 490306-001  battery

The economy of Northern Ireland is the smallest of the four countries in the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has traditionally had an industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services. Compaq Presario CQ35-100 battery

To this day, Northern Ireland still suffers from the results of the Troubles which occurred between the late 1960s until the mid-1990s.

Output and economic growth

Northern Ireland has the smallest economy of any of the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom, at €37.3bn, or about two-thirds of the size of the next smallest, North East England. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51  battery

However, this is partly because Northern Ireland has the smallest population; at €19,603 Northern Ireland has a greater GDP per capita than both North East England and Wales.

Throughout the 1990s, the Northern Irish economy grew faster than did the economy of the rest of the UK, due in part to the Celtic Tiger rapid growth of the economy of the Republic of Ireland and the so-called 'peace dividend'.HP Pavilion ZE4500  battery

Growth slowed to the pace of the rest of the UK during the down-turn of the early years of the new millennium, but growth has since rebounded; in 2005, the Northern Irish economy is estimated to have grown by 3.2%, almost twice as fast as the UK as a whole, and future growth is expected to be stronger than that of the rest of the United Kingdom, though lower than that of the Republic. HP G62-100EB  battery

In April 2007 a Halifax survey found Northern Ireland's average house price to one of the highest in the UK, behind London, the South East and the South West. It also found Northern Ireland to have all of the top ten property "hot spots", with the Craigavon and Newtownards areas increasing by 55%.HP Pavilion DV6-1211AX  battery


Unemployment in Northern Ireland has decreased substantially in recent years, and is now 7%, which is amongst the lowest of the regions of the United Kingdom, down from a peak of 17.2% in 1986. Youth unemployment and long-term unemployment have fallen most quickly.HP EliteBook 6930P battery

Despite low unemployment, working-age economic inactivity is 28%, which is the highest of any UK region.

Northern Ireland's macroeconomy is also characterised by considerably longer actual working hours and lower gender income disparity than in the United Kingdom as a whole.HP Pavilion DV9500  battery

Mainly due to the Global Recession, Northern Ireland's unemployment rate has almost doubled in recent times, and as of November 2010 stands at 7%, though this still below the EU average of 9.6% and Britain's average of 7.7%.


During the Troubles, Northern Ireland received little foreign investment.Compaq Evo N610C  battery

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, investment in Northern Ireland has increased significantly. Most investment has been focused in Greater Belfast. Major projects include the £400 millionVictoria Square retail development in Belfast City Centre.HP Pavilion DM3-1050EO battery

The city will also see the largest waterfront development in Europe with the Titanic Quarter  scheme, costing over £1 billion and taking seven years to complete. The Laganside Corporation has been at the forefront of the redevelopment of the riverfront along the banks of the River Lagan, to date the corporation has overseen the investment of over £800 million in the riverside area.Compaq Presario 1245  battery

The Cathedral Quarter has also seen substantial investment.

In addition, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has commissioned MATRIX, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel,to advise government on the commercial exploitation of R&D and science and technology in Northern Ireland.HP G6000  battery

The Matrix Panel aims to grow NIs wealth by encouraging the exploitation of its science and R&D base. The work has shown that there is still a need for greater exploitation of science and technology and a step-change in innovation in the economy and workplaces.HP Compaq 451086-661  battery

The Panel’s recommendations are the result of a collaborative effort of technology industry leaders and experts in Northern Ireland.


Agriculture in Northern Ireland is heavily mechanised, thanks to high labour costs and heavy capital investment, both from private investors and the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy. HP Pavilion DV2166EA  battery

In 2000, agriculture accounted for 2.4% of economic output in Northern Ireland, compared to 1% in the United Kingdom as a whole. As in the rest of the United Kingdom, livestock and dairy account for the majority of agricultural output. The main crops are (in descending order of value) potatoes, barley, and wheat.HP Compaq 464119-143  battery


Heavy industry is concentrated in and around Belfast, although other major towns and cities also have heavy manufacturing areas. Machinery and equipment manufacturing, food processing, and textileand electronics manufacturing are the leading industries.Compaq Presario CQ71  battery

Other industries such as papermaking, furniture manufacturing, aerospace and shipbuilding are also important, concentrated mostly in the eastern parts of Northern Ireland. Of these different industries, one of the most notable is that of Northern Ireland's fine linens, which is considered as one of the most well-known around Europe.HP Pavilion DV9565EA  battery

Although its share of economic output has declined, manufacturing output in Northern Ireland has remained almost unchanged over the past five years, after a period of steep manufacturing growthbetween 1998 and 2001. However, this overall picture of health hides a dramatic shift in manufacturing priorities, with the decline of traditional industries, such as textiles and shipbuilding, at the expense of high tech and capital-intensive industries. HP Pavilion DV6203TX battery

In 2005, chemicals and engineering (both of which belong firmly to the latter group) were the only two manufacturing sub-sectors to record growth, whilst output of textiles fell by 18%.

Engineering is the largest manufacturing sub-sector in Northern Ireland, particularly in the fields of aerospace and heavy machinery.HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO  battery

Bombardier Aerospace is the province's largest industrial employer, with 5,400 workers at five sites in the Greater Belfast area. Other major engineering employers in Northern Ireland include Bombardier Aerospace, Caterpillar, DuPont, Emerson Electric, Nortel,Northbrook Technology, Seagate and NACCO. HP HSTNN-OB51  battery

Many of these manufacturers receive British government financial backing, and enjoy close academic and business links with Queen's University Belfast, which ranks as one of the best British universities for all engineering courses.

Belfast's famous shipyard, Harland and Wolff, which in the early 20th century was the world's biggest shipbuilder, HP Pavilion DV7-2185DX  battery

suffered from intense international competition during the 1970s and 1980s and declined rapidly. During the 1990s the company diversified into civil engineering and industrial fabrication, manufacturing bridges and oil platforms. The company made an unsuccessful bid to build theQueen Mary 2, which it was hoped would re-stimulate the yard's shipbuilding business. HP Compaq Business  6830S  battery

The vast works on Queen's Island were downsized, with much of the land (including the slipway were RMS Titanic was built) sold off for redevelopment in the 2000s as the 'Titanic Quarter'- a new residential, commercial and high-tech industrial district. The modern, smaller yard employs only 800 people. HP PP2200 battery

H&W have not built a ship since 2003, but has seen workload increase through being involved in shipbreaking, ship repair and maintenance and conversion work. The company has also been active in the design and construction of offshore power generation equipment- both wind turbines and wave-action turbines.Compaq CQ50 battery

As with all developed economies, services account for the majority of employment and output. Services account for almost 70% of economic output, and 78% of employees.


Despite the negative image of Northern Ireland held in many foreign countries, on account of the Troubles, tourism is an important part of the Northern Irish economy. HP Pavilion DV8 battery

In 2004, tourism revenue rose 7% to £325m, or over 1% of the local economy, on the back of a rise of 4% in total visits to 2.1 m in the year. Tourism is considered likely to become one of the main growth areas of the economy in the near future, with the continuation of the peace process and the normalisation of the image of Northern Ireland internationally.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

The most popular tourist attractions include Belfast, Armagh, the Giant's Causeway, and Northern Ireland's many castles.

One drawback to the future of tourism in Northern Ireland is a long standing campaign by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to replace all old country dwellings with new ones. HP DV9700 battery

This is done by means of a new building grant given upon agreement to demolish the older building. In the last decade particularly, much of Northern Ireland's ancient buildings have been destroyed. These buildings; mostly stone cottages, would, had they received grants to be rethatched and restored have provided a very large potential bed&breakfast sector for tourists.Compaq CQ35-100 battery

Another has been the almost uncontrolled development of the countryside to provide more grazing space. The vast majority of odd, unusual, charming and eccentric landscape features including copses, woods, old stone walls, fieldstones, have been removed with diggers and chainsaws leaving large areas of blandness and little refuge for wildlife.HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

Much has to be done to convince the people of Northern Ireland of the value of old architecture, natural landscape and wildlife, although this statement sounds more like an opinion than an encyclopaedic fact.

Public sector

As of December 2008 the public sector in Northern Ireland accounted for 30.8% of the total workforce. Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

This is significantly higher than the overall UK figure of 19.5%, and also higher than Scotland, the next nearest region at 24%. Overall, the Northern Ireland figure has fallen. In 1992 the public sector accounted for 37% of the workforce. When measured relative to population, the gap between the Northern Ireland and UK figures reduces to three percentage points.HP 448007-001 battery

In total, the British government subvention totals £5,000m, or 20% of Northern Ireland's economic output.  Many unionists in Northern Ireland argue that a united Ireland could not sustain these levels of public sector employment, particularly as only 36% of the economy of the Republic of Ireland is made up of government expenditure.Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/L Battery

Many in favour of a united Ireland argue that it is this dependence on the public sector that dissuades potential investors, causing Northern Ireland's relative poverty.


The official currency in use in Northern Ireland is the British pound sterling. Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

Although the euro, in use in the Republic of Ireland, is accepted by retailing chains closer to the border with the Republic of Ireland, Sterling is Northern Ireland's legal tender and the most widely circulated currency.

In addition, four Northern Ireland banks retain the right to print their own sterling-denominated banknotes: Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

Bank of Ireland, First Trust Bank, Northern Bank, andUlster Bank.


Northern Ireland's total primary energy consumption is approximately 4.90 million tonnes of oil equivalent. The vast majority of this energy comes from fossil fuels.Apple A1280 battery

Energy policy in the province is maintained by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.


Electricity consumption in Northern Ireland was 7,867 GW·h in 2002/3. At 4.6 MW·h per person, this is 18% less than that of the rest of the United Kingdom (5.6 MW·h per person).Apple A1281 battery

The main power station is located at Ballylumford, and is operated by Premier Power. There is also Coolkeeragh power station near Derry.

Northern Ireland's electrical grid is connected to that of the Republic of Ireland by three cross-border interconnectors.HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery

The main interconnector, between Tandragee andLouth has a capacity of 1,200 MW. Two back-up interconnectors have a combined capacity of 240 MW. This combined all-island grid is connected to the National Grid on the island of Great Britain by the 500 MW Moyle interconnector, under the North Channel.HP Pavilion DV6-1020ED Battery


Northern Ireland has no natural gas resources of its own, and gets its gas for the Belfast area from a 24-inch-diameter (610 mm) interconnector pipeline alongBeaufort's Dyke across the Irish Sea to Antrim from Scotland called the Scotland Northern Ireland Pipeline (SNIP), which was built in 1998. Dell Latitude E6400 Battery Battery

The main gas supply company in the Greater Belfast area is Phoenix Natural Gas, a former subsidiary of British Gas. It has become separate from British Gas since 2003.

In the other areas of Northern Ireland, specifically towards Derry, gas comes from two interconnector pipelines, one being supplied by the Republic's gas supplier,Bord Gáis.HP Pavilion DM4 Battery

The North-West pipeline from Carrickfergus in County Antrim to Derry opened in November 2004, and the South-North pipeline from Gormanston (in the Republic) to Antrim was opened in October 2006. The complete South-North pipeline to Dublin opened in November 2007, passing Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry.Apple MB772LL/A battery

Since December 2005, Bord Gáis has supplied gas to residential customers in this area under the name firmus energy.


Northern Ireland has well-developed transport infrastructure. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

Northern Ireland has a total of 24,820 km (15,420 mi) of roads, or 1 km for each 68 people (1 mi for each 109 people), which is considerably more than in the United Kingdom as a whole (1 km per 162 people). There are seven motorways in Northern Ireland, extending radially from Belfast, Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

and connecting that city to Antrim, Dungannon,Lisburn, Newtownabbey, and Portadown. The Northern Irish rail network is notable as being both the only part of the United Kingdom's railroads operated by a state-owned company, Northern Ireland Railways, and the only substantial part that carries no freight traffic.HP 448007-001 battery

Northern Ireland is home to three civilian airports: Belfast City, Belfast International, and City of Derry. Major seaports in Northern Ireland include the Port of Belfast and the Port of Larne. The Port of Belfast is one of the chief ports of the United Kingdom, handling 17 million tonnes (16.7 million long tons) of goods in 2005,Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

equivalent to two-thirds of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade.

In addition to these existing links, several organisations have proposed a tunnel under the North Channel, with one possible site connecting eastern Northern Ireland to Wigtownshire. HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

The idea has been given technical consideration since the 19th century, but, as of 2006, no major political party has advocated such a link, due to financial constraints.Compaq CQ35

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