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northern Ireland

northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann or Norlin Airlan) is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom.[3][4] Situated in the northeast of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. 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. Compaq Presario CQ40 Battery


Northern Ireland consists of six of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster. It was created as a distinct division of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920,[5] 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. Compaq Presario CQ42 Battery

 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 consociation democracy principles requiring cross-community support. Compaq Presario CQ42-100 Battery


Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict—the Troubles—which was caused by divisions between nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and unionists, who are predominantly Protestant, Compaq Presario CQ42-200 Battery

which has been the most prevalent religion. Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain as a part of the United Kingdom,[6] while nationalists wish for it to be politically united with the rest of Ireland, independent of British rule.[7][8][9][10] Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns. Compaq Presario CQ45 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. Compaq Presario CQ50 Battery


Signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 in opposition to Home Rule

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. Following Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale, Compaq Presario CQ50-100 Battery

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. Between 1610 and 1717 perhaps as many as 100,000 Lowlanders came across from Scotland, and by the latter date there were some five Compaq Presario CQ50 Battery

Scots to every three Irishmen and one Englishman in Ulster.[11] 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, Scotland and Ireland fuelled by religious intolerance in government. Compaq Presario CQ50T Battery

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, 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). Compaq Presario CQ50Z Battery


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. 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, Compaq Presario CQ60 Battery

militant societies develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks. 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 Catholic Defenders and leading to the formation of the (Anglican) Orange Order. Compaq Presario CQ60-100 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. Following this, Compaq Presario CQ60-110 Battery

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, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was governed from a single government and parliament based in London. Compaq Presario CQ60-120 Battery


Between 1717 and 1775 some 250,000 people from Ulster emigrated to the American colonies.[12] It is estimated that there are more than 27 million descendants of the Scots-Irish migration now living in the U.S.[13] Compaq Presario CQ60-130 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). During the 19th century, Compaq Presario CQ60-130 Battery

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. In 1912, it became a certainty. Compaq Presario CQ60-400 Battery

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 of members of the House of Lords were unionists. In response, Compaq Presario CQ62 Battery

 opponents to home rule from Conservative Party leaders such as 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 from Imperial Germany for use by the Ulster Volunteers, a paramilitary organisation opposed to the implementation of home rule. Compaq Presario CQ62 Battery


Unionists were in a minority on the island of Ireland as a whole, but were a majority in the northern province of Ulster[citation needed] and a very large majority in County Antrim and County Down, with small majorities in County Armagh and County Londonderry. There were substantial numbers also concentrated in County Fermanagh and County Tyrone.[14] These six counties would later constitute Northern Ireland. Compaq Presario CQ70 Battery


Prime Ministers

Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme

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. 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. Compaq Presario CQ71 Battery

 By the end of the war (during which the 1916 Easter Rising had taken place), the act was seen as unimplementable. 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 George proposed a new bill which would divide Ireland into two home rule areas: Compaq Presario CQ71-100 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.[15] Events had however overtaken government. Compaq Presario CQ72 Battery

 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 VGP-BPL13 Battery


Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in 1921 under the terms of Lloyd George's Government of Ireland Act 1920[16] 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, Northern Ireland provisionally became an autonomous part of the newly independent Irish Free State. Sony VGP-BPS13/B Battery


Northern Ireland

However, as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland resolved the following day[17] to opt out of the Irish Free State at the earliest possible opportunity (one month later). Shortly afterwards, Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery

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. Leaders in Dublin expected a substantial reduction in the territory of Northern Ireland, with nationalist areas moving to the Free State. Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

 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. To prevent argument, this report was suppressed and, Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

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), the initial six-county border was maintained with minor changes.

Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Battery




Signature page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty

In June 1940, to encourage the Irish state to join with the Allies, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill indicated to the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera that the United Kingdom would push for Irish unity, but believing that Churchill could not deliver, de Valera declined the offer.[18] (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). Sony VGP-BPS13A/B Battery


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. Sony VGP-BPS13A/S 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 nationalist community (principally Roman Catholic) and unionist community (principally Protestant) during which 3,254 people were Sony VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

killed.[19] 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.[20] From 1967 to 1972 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, modelling itself on the US civil rights movement, Sony VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery

led a campaign of civil resistance to anti-Catholic discrimination in housing, employment, policing, and electoral procedures (the franchise being limited to property-owning rate-payers, thereby excluding most Catholics). However NICRA's campaign, and the reaction to it, proved to be a precursor to a more violent period.[ Sony VGP-BPS13Q Battery

21] 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", Sony VGP-BPS13S Battery

"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) —Sony VGP-BPS8B Battery

were also involved in the violence. 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. Sony VGP-BPS8B Battery

 Irish republicans regarded the state forces as "combatants" in the conflict, 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, were involved in murder, Sony VGP-BPS9 Battery

and did obstruct the course of justice when such claims had previously been investigated,[22] although the extent to which such collusion occurred is still hotly disputed. Sony VGP-BPS9/B Battery


As a consequence of the worsening security situation, autonomous regional government for Northern Ireland was suspended in 1972. Alongside the violence, there was a political deadlock between the major political parties in Northern Ireland, Sony VGP-BPS9A Battery

 including those who condemned violence, over the future status of Northern Ireland and the form of government there should be within Northern Ireland. In 1973, Northern Ireland held a referendum to determine if it should remain in the United Kingdom, Sony VGP-BPS9A/B Battery

 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.[23] Sony VGP-BPS9A/S Battery


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, 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, Sony VGP-BPS9B Battery

as agreed by the signatories to the Belfast Agreement (commonly known as the "Good Friday Agreement"). 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. Sony VGP-BPL18 Battery

Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Irish state, 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, Sony VGP-BPS20/B Battery

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). 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 timeSony VAIO VGN-FW11E Battery

, as part of the prospective, the so-called "Irish dimension": 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.[24Sony VAIO VGN-FW11L Battery

] The latter statement was key to winning support for the agreement from nationalists and republicans. It also established a devolved power-sharing government within Northern Ireland, which must consist of both unionist and nationalist parties. Sony VAIO VGN-FW11L Battery


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). The resulting case against the accused Sinn Féin member collapsed. Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S Battery


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. 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. Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S 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 Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H Battery

support and will not be in a position to form part of a government in the near future. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, with their (real and perceived) links to militant republicanism, are the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland. Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H Battery


Politicians elected to the Assembly at the 2003 Assembly Election were called together on 15 May 2006 under the Northern Ireland Act 2006[25] 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. Sony VAIO VGN-FW160E Battery


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 leader Martin McGuinness taking office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively.[26] The current First Minister is Peter Robinson, having taken over as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Government and politicsSony VAIO VGN-FW160E Battery


Northern Ireland has devolved government within the United Kingdom. There is a Northern Ireland Executive together with the 108-member 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. Sony VAIO VGN-FW180E Battery

 Northern Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction, separate from England, Wales and Scotland.[27] It is also an electoral region of the European Union. Sony VAIO VGN-FW180E Battery




Parliament Buildings in Stormont, Belfast, seat of the assembly

Northern Ireland elects 18 Members of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons; not all take their seats, however, as the Sinn Féin MPs (currently five) refuse to take the oath to serve the Queen that is required of all MPs. The Northern Ireland Office represents the UK government in Northern Ireland on reserved matters and represents Sony VAIO VGN-FW180E Battery

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. Sony VAIO VGN-FW190EDH Batter

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. These two opposing views are linked to deeper cultural divisions. Unionists are overwhelmingly Protestant, descendants of mainly Scottish, English, Sony VAIO VGN-FW190EDH Batter Welsh and Huguenot settlers as well as Old Gaelic Irishmen who had converted to one of the Protestant denominations. 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. Dell inspiron 6400 Battery

Discrimination against nationalists under the Stormont government (1921–1972) gave rise to the nationalist civil rights movement in the 1960s.[28] 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. Dell inspiron E1705 Battery

 [29] Whatever the cause, the existence of discrimination, and the manner in which Nationalist anger at it was handled, 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.[30] Dell inspiron 9300 Battery


As of 2007, 36% of the population define themselves as Unionist, 24% as Nationalist and 40% define themselves as neither.[31] 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), Dell xps M1210 Battery

while 21% express a preference for membership of a united Ireland.[32] 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%), Northern Ireland becoming an independent state (5%), and those who "don't know" (5%).[3Dell xps M1330 Battery

3] 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, 42% vote for Pro-Nationalist parties and 4% vote "other".Dell xps M1530 Battery

 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. Dell xps M170 Battery


Most of the population of Northern Ireland are at least nominally Christian. 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. Dell xps M1730 Battery

 This is, however, becoming increasingly irrelevant as the Irish Question is very complicated. 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 xps M2010 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. In the 2009 survey by Northern Ireland Life and Times, Dell Latitude D600 Battery

47% of Northern Irish Catholics supported Northern Ireland remaining a part of the United Kingdom, either by direct rule (8%) or devolved government (39%).[34] Dell Latitude D610 Battery


Protestants have a slight majority in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Northern Ireland Census. 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").Dell Latitude E6400 Battery


Citizenship and identity

Further information: British nationality law and Irish nationality law

People from Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, are British citizens. They are also entitled to Irish citizenship by birth under 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, Dell Inspiron Mini 1011 Battery

 or both, as they may so choose, 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. Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Battery


As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland[35] 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. Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Battery


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 Inspiron Mini 9N 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'.[ Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 Battery


This does not however account for the complex identities within Northern Ireland, given that many of the population regard themselves as "Ulster" or "Northern Irish", either as a primary or secondary identity. A 2008 survey found that 57% of Protestants described themselves as British, Dell Inspiron XPS M170 Battery

while 32% identified as Northern Irish, 6% as Ulster and 4% as Irish. Compared to a similar 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. These figures were largely unchanged from the 1998 results.[44][45] Dell Inspiron XPS M1710 Battery


Demography of Northern Ireland

The population of Northern Ireland was estimated as being 1,759,000 on 10 December 2008.[46] In the 2001 census, 45.57% of the population identified as belonging to Protestant or other non-Roman Catholic denominations (20.69% Presbyterian, Dell Latitude E6400 Battery

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.[47] In terms of community background, 53.1% of the Northern Irish population came from a Protestant background, 43.8%Dell Latitude E6500 Battery

 came from a Catholic background, 0.4% from non-Christian backgrounds and 2.7% non-religious backgrounds.[48][49] The population is forecast to pass the 1.8 million mark by 2011.[50]

Symbols used in Northern IrelandDell Studio 1735 Battery



See also: Northern Ireland flags issue



The floral logo for the Northern Ireland assembly is based on the flax plant.[51]

Northern Ireland comprises a patchwork of communities whose national loyalties are represented in some areas by flags flown from lamp posts. The Union Flag and the former Northern Ireland Flag are flown in some loyalist areas, and the Tricolour, Dell Studio 1737 Battery

 adopted by republicans as the flag of Ireland in 1848, is flown in some republican areas. 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.[52] Dell Studio 1535 Battery


The official flag is the Union Flag.[53] The Northern Ireland flag was previously the former Governmental Northern Ireland banner (also known as the "Ulster Banner" or "Red Hand Flag"). 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, Dell Studio 1536 Battery

 it has had no official status. UK flags policy states that in Northern Ireland: 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.[54] Dell Studio 1555 Battery


The Union Flag and the Ulster Banner are mainly used by Unionists.[55]

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. Dell Studio PP33L Battery

 Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinian flags in some Nationalist areas and Israeli flags in some Unionist areas. This is also true during matches with Scottish teams. Dell Studio 1557 Battery


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.[56][57] The Northern Ireland football team also uses the Ulster Banner as its flag but uses "God Save The Queen" as its national anthem.[58Dell Mini 10 Battery

] 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.[59] 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.[60] Dell Mini 1010 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 Mini 1010n Battery


Geography and climate




Map of Northern Ireland

Main articles: Geography of Ireland and Geography of the United Kingdom

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. The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh, at 151 square miles (391 km2) tDell Mini 1010n Battery

Dell Mini 1010v Battery

he 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. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast. Dell Mini 1011 Battery

 Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 150 km2 (58 sq mi).

There are substantial uplands in the Sperrin Mountains (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 metresDell Mini 1011n Battery

 (2,785 ft), Northern Ireland's highest point. 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. Dell Mini 1011v Battery




The Giant's Causeway, County Antrim

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 Latitude E6400 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 E6500 Battery



Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

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. Average daytime maximums in Belfast are 6.5 °C (43.7 °F) in January and 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) in July. Dell Studio XPS 13 Battery

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. Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery


Lowest minimum temperature: −18.7 °C (−1.7 °F) at Castlederg, County Tyrone on 23 December 2010.[61]

Silent Valley Reservoir, County Down

These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead there are twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland which have different geographical extents, even in the case of those named after the counties from which they derive their name. Dell Studio XPS M1640 Battery

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. Dell Latitude E5500 Battery




Lower Lough Erne, County FermanaghDell Latitude E5400 Battery


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 pageSony VGP-BPS9 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. In 2000 the telephone numbering system was restructured into an 8 digit scheme with the first digit reflecting the county. Sony VGP-BPL9 Battery


The county boundaries still appear on Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Maps and the Phillips Street Atlases, among others. 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 VGP-BPS9A/B Battery


Main article: Northern Ireland law

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. From 1972 until 1999 (except for a brief period in 1974) Sony VGP-BPS9A Battery

, 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.

EconomySony VGP-BPS9/B Battery





Cranes at Harland & Wolff shipyard, now diversified into heavy manufacturing for the renewable energy industry

Main article: Economy of Northern Ireland

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, Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services, primarily the public sector. 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. Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery






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