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Northern Ireland
Tuaisceart Éireann; Norlin Airlann
Timeline: Scotland says "Yes"
OTL equivalent: Northern Ireland
Ssym.png
Location of the United Kingdom, in White (England), Light Green (Wales) and Dark Red (Northern Ireland)
Capital
(and largest city)
Belfast
Official languages English
Regional Languages Irish - Ulster Scots
Ethnic groups (2011) (2011)

98.28% White 1.06% Asian

0.20% Black
Demonym Northern Irish
Government Part of a constitutional monarchy
 -  Consociational devolved legislature within unitary constitutional monarchy Elizabeth II
 -  First Minister Arlene Foster
 -  Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Population
 -  2016 estimate 1,864,000 
 -  2014 census 1,810,863 
Drives on the Left
Northern Ireland (Irish: Tuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a constituent unity of the United Kingdom, located in the northeast of Ireland. It is variously described as a country, province, region or "part" of the United Kingdom, amongst other names. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland.

History

Northern Ireland has a long complex and controversial history, which has shaped its complex relationships with the rest of the British Isles. The narrow sea between Ulster and Scotland has been seen as a highway of ideas and people since ancient times.

The Wars of Three Kings

The Norman invasion of Ireland in the late 12th Century was the beginning of English and later British administration in Ireland. Although the English Lordship of Ireland claimed the entire island its governorship was largely confined to the south east. The Northern part of the island being particularly resistant however some inroads are made along the north coast with castles being built in Carrickfergus (just north of modern Belfast).

Following the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 the Scots open a second front against the English in Ireland. A Scottish force commanded by Edward Bruce the brother of the King. Edward is quickly named High King of Ireland by some of the Gaelic Irish Clan chieftains.

The Scottish campaign in Ireland is however intended to divert English attention from Scotland and falters after King Edward is killed in battle in 1318.

Reformation & Plantation

The Protestant Reformation introduces a religious aspect to Ireland's relationship with the rest of the British Isles. England becomes a protestant country where as Ireland remains Catholic. Many rebellions in the name of counter reformation began in Ireland. The greatest leading to the Nine Years War in the late 16th century, when the northern clans lead by the Earl of Tyrone are ultimately defeated by the English and flee into exile, leaving a power vacuum in the north.

Following the Union of the Crowns between Scotland and England in 1603, the new king, James I/VI plants northern Ireland with loyal British largely protestant settlers. The vast majority of these are lowland Scots, some coming from rebellious border clans, who for years had acted as the borders defence. but now that the border is in need of stabilization they are transplanted to northern Ireland as a free defence army.

northern Ireland is forever changed by this with new languages, culture and customs introduced as well as new towns and cities including Belfast and the walled city of Londonderry in the north west.

During the turmoil of the civil wars of the 1640s many of the settlers are massacred leading to separate Scottish and English invasions both on separate sides of the civil war in England. There is a brief period of stability following the restoration of the monarchy, however in 1685 the Catholic King James II/VII becomes king.

During the Glorious Revolution when William III deposes King James many northern protestants of English and Scottish descent declare their support for William when southern Catholics support James. This sees battles at Enniskillen, Derry in 1688 climaxing in the battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Union & Partition

Following a rebellion in 1798, an Act of Union is in 1800 passed between Great Britain and Ireland, fully incorporating Ireland into the United Kingdom. The repeal of the Union would dominate Irish politics in the next decades before being replaced with calls for devolution known as Home Rule in the late 19th Century.

northern Ireland does rather well out of the union, enjoying the benefits of the industrial revolution in Great Britain, where as the south of Ireland remains a largely rural based economy. In 1912 a Home Rule Bill is passed in Parliament by a Liberal and Irish Nationalist Coalition. Many of the northern Protestants are outraged and pledge in a Solemne League and Covenant to resist the Act by "all means necessary" some are even said to have signed in their own blood. Those in favour of the Union with Great Britain known as Unionists form their own armed militia known as the Ulster Volunteer Force and those for Home Rule form the Irish Volunteers. By 1914 Ireland is on the brink of Civil War. Civil war is averted when both sides go to fight in the 1st World War hoping there service will be rewarded by the government at the war's end.

After the War the Government introduces the Government of Ireland Act allowing Northern Ireland to have an opt out and remain in the United Kingdom, which is exercised.

Troubles and Peace Process

Northern Ireland is granted a home rule parliament in 1921 and enjoys relative stability until 1969, when mainly Catholic nationalists feeling disadvantaged by the state take to the streets. Protestant counter marched leads to sectarian clashes and troops are sent in to restore order.

However the violence escalates with paramilitary organisations launching terrorist campaigns of bombings and shootings. Northern Ireland's constitutional position being the main catalyst of the conflict. The sectarian violence continues for over 30 years with wrongs conducted on both sides, leaving a bitter and painful legacy which Northern Ireland still struggles with.

In 1998 the main political parties agreed on the Good Friday Agreement which rejects violence and embraces the right to consent, meaning Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK providing the democratic majority wishes it to do so. A legislative assembly is established where Unionists and Nationalists share power to govern the domestic affairs of Northern Ireland, After paramilitaries putting weapons beyond use the Army was finally able to transfer all responsibility for security to the civil police in 2007. However some small dissident groups maintain weapons and occasionally attempt terrorist attacks generally unsuccessfully, and there is occasionally still sectarian violence in the street such as the flag protests in 2012. However by and large the province is enjoying peace and prosperity although there are still a visible sectarian divide in society.

The Scottish Referendum

The Scottish Independence Referendum opened up old wounds in Northern Ireland. The independence of Scotland was an embarrassment to Northern Irish unionists most of whom are of Scottish descent and has made their position in the United Kingdom less stable.

Nationalists on the other hand watched Scotland with interest anticipating the collapse of the UK and seeing what can be learned from Scotland.

Before the Referendum

Scotish Saltires fly from the nationalist 'Free Derry Wall' in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on the eve of the Scotish Referendum

Opinions on how Scotland should vote were divided in Northern Ireland. Officially the Nationalist parties maintained that it a question for the Scottish people alone, however many on the street were hoping that Scotland would say yes, and that this in turn would lead to a referendum on the border in Northern Ireland.

Unionists on the other hand openly declared support for the Union and encouraged the Scots to maintain the unity of the United kingdom. Some of those of Scottish descent even said they should be allowed to vote in the referendum.

Flags were put up on lamp posts by both communities on the day of the referendum. Scottish Saltires and Union Jacks were flown in Unionist areas where as Saltires and Irish tricolours appeared in Nationalist area.

Aftermath

The immediate aftermath was met with a sense of shock in Unionist areas. Nationalist areas were initially quite however in some places there were street celebrations.

Nationalist Politicians welcomed the news with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness stating that the time had come for Northern Ireland to follow Scotland's example an leave the UK. However polls showed that the Scottish referendum had very little impact on views on the border with a majority still wishing to remain part of the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland refused to call a referendum on the border, but the issue refuses to go away the call is picking up momentum in nationalist political circles.

Within days of the result unionists organised 'save the union' protests. Some of these clashed with nationalist protests calling for an Irish referendum leading to small scale violence initially, however it spread to large scale civic disturbances in Belfast with nightly rioting at Unionist and Nationalist interfaces. Although political figures on both sides of the divide condemn the violence and call for cam, the rioting continues. It is the worst rioting Northern Ireland has seen since the flag protests of 2012.

Although police resources are stretched there is reluctance to call in the army, and police officers from other parts of the UK are called in to assist. After eight months of nightly rioting in Belfast plus some other skirmishes and minor disturbances in other parts of the province the situation calms down, however community tensions are still high given the uncertain future of the UK.

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