From IRA to the Sinn Fein: A Transition in Northern Ireland Politics: A Look at how the Sinn Fein/IRA have worked their way into the political world in Northern Ireland and its effects on the Peace Process
Dyer, Samuel J.
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Northern Ireland, unlike most other countries, negotiates with and includes in government and politics, terrorist organizations that have long struggled with the Irish Question. Historically, the Irish Question encompasses the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, asking, ''what is to be done with the six northern counties of Ireland that make up Ulster?" This question has since changed to a conflict between loyalists to the Crown of Great Britain and Nationalists seeking independence from Britain in the form of a united Irish state. Currently, the dissension turns on whether or not one favors the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), a compromise between the two traditions in Northern Ireland and its ,status either as an independent state or its unification with the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Republican Anny (IRA), a terrorist organization committed to eliminating British presence in Northern Ireland, is fighting for a united Ireland. The IRA has currently evolved into a political party, Sinn Fein, seeking peace and political stability. Ironically, this political wing of the terrorist organization is, necessary to the peace process and stability of Northern Ireland. This research begins with a brief analysis of the Sinn Fein and IRA. While both organizations share a similar goal, they differ in their methods of achieving that goal; until Bobby Sands, an IRA member, began the IRA's transformation to the Sinn Fein. Sands, a charismatic leader, persuaded the IRA to pursue more conventional venues to accomplish its goals. His persuasiveness in dealing with the IRA is highly commendable and marks the beginning of the Sinn Fein's political legitimacy and acceptance. However, other events also contribute to the Sinn Fein's success in government and politics. These cultural/historical events include, but are not always limited to, the Bobby Sands hunger strike (which began the transition for the IRA into the Sinn Fein), various peace agreements, retributive murders and numerous cease-fires, (Note: this investigation necessarily relies on the key historical events during the past 20 years of the peace process, and rebuffs the temptation to look further back). This research closes with a critical consideration of the Good Friday Agreement and the related release of prisoners and decommissioning.
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