Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Overview
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries
Countries of the United Kingdom
Countries of the United Kingdom is a term used to describe England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These four countries together form the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is also described as a country. The alternative terms, constituent...

 of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border
Republic of Ireland-United Kingdom border
The Republic of Ireland–United Kingdom border is the boundary between the sovereign states of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...

 with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

, 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
Counties of Northern Ireland
The counties of Northern Ireland were the principal local government divisions of Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 when their governmental features were abolished and replaced with twenty-six unitary authorities....

 of the nine counties of the Irish province
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

 of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

.
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Timeline

1889   78 are killed in the Armagh rail disaster near Armagh in what is now Northern Ireland.

1910   The hull of the {{RMS|Olympic}}, sister-ship to the ill-fated {{RMS|Titanic}}, is launched from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

1921   Belfast's Bloody Sunday: 16 people are killed and 161 houses destroyed during rioting and gun battles in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

1932   Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

1941   In the Belfast Blitz, two-hundred bombers of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) attack Belfast, Northern Ireland killing one thousand people.

1942   World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe landing in Northern Ireland.

1966   The Ulster Volunteer Force declares war on the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

1969   Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary damage property and assault occupants in the Bogside in Derry, Northern Ireland. In response, residents erect barricades and establish Free Derry.

1969   Violence erupts after the Apprentice Boys of Derry march in Derry, Northern Ireland, resulting in a three-day communal riot known as the Battle of the Bogside.

1969   British troops are deployed in Northern Ireland.

 
Encyclopedia
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries
Countries of the United Kingdom
Countries of the United Kingdom is a term used to describe England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These four countries together form the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is also described as a country. The alternative terms, constituent...

 of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border
Republic of Ireland-United Kingdom border
The Republic of Ireland–United Kingdom border is the boundary between the sovereign states of the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...

 with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census
United Kingdom Census 2001
A nationwide census, known as Census 2001, was conducted in the United Kingdom on Sunday, 29 April 2001. This was the 20th UK Census and recorded a resident population of 58,789,194....

, 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
Counties of Northern Ireland
The counties of Northern Ireland were the principal local government divisions of Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 when their governmental features were abolished and replaced with twenty-six unitary authorities....

 of the nine counties of the Irish province
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

 of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

. It was created
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 as a distinct division of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

, though its constitutional roots lie in the 1800 Act of Union
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

 between Great Britain and Ireland. For over 50 years it had its own devolved government
Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland
The Executive Committee or the Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland was the government of Northern Ireland created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Generally known as either the Cabinet or the Government, the Executive Committee existed from 1922 to 1972...

 and parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

. These institutions were suspended in 1972
Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
The Northern Ireland Act 1972 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced direct rule in Northern Ireland with effect from 30 March 1972....

 and abolished in 1973. Repeated attempts to restore self-government finally resulted in the establishment in 1998
Northern Ireland Act 1998
The Northern Ireland Act 1998 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which established a devolved legislature for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Assembly, after decades of direct rule from Westminster....

 of the present-day Northern Ireland Executive
Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

 and Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

. The Assembly operates on consociational democracy principles requiring cross-community support.

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict—the Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

—which was caused by divisions between nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and unionists
Unionism in Ireland
Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain...

, who are predominantly Protestant, which has been the most prevalent religion. Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain as a part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists wish for it to be politically united
United Ireland
A united Ireland is the term used to refer to the idea of a sovereign state which covers all of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland. The island of Ireland includes the territory of two independent sovereign states: the Republic of Ireland, which covers 26 counties of the island, and the...

 with the rest of Ireland, independent of British rule. Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement
Belfast Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement , sometimes called the Stormont Agreement, was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process...

" in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns.

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. Additionally, many people from both sides of the community consider themselves as Northern Irish.

Background


The region that is now Northern Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish war of resistance against English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 programmes of colonialism
Plantations of Ireland
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands....

 in the late 16th century. The English-controlled Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 had been declared by the English king Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 in 1542, but Irish resistance made English control fragmentary. Following Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale, though, the region's Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

, Roman Catholic aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 fled to continental Europe
Flight of the Earls
The Flight of the Earls took place on 14 September 1607, when Hugh Ó Neill of Tír Eóghain, Rory Ó Donnell of Tír Chonaill and about ninety followers left Ireland for mainland Europe.-Background to the exile:...

 in 1607 and the region became subject to major programmes of colonialism by Protestant English (mainly Anglican) and Scottish (mainly Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

) 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 Scots to every three Irishmen and one Englishman in Ulster. A rebellion in 1641
Irish Rebellion of 1641
The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d'état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for the Catholics living under English rule...

 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
Wars of the Three Kingdoms
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms formed an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in England, Ireland, and Scotland between 1639 and 1651 after these three countries had come under the "Personal Rule" of the same monarch...

 fuelled by religious intolerance in government. Victories by English forces in that war and further Protestant victories in the Williamite War in Ireland
Williamite war in Ireland
The Williamite War in Ireland—also called the Jacobite War in Ireland, the Williamite-Jacobite War in Ireland and in Irish as Cogadh an Dá Rí —was a conflict between Catholic King James II and Protestant King William of Orange over who would be King of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 toward the close of the 17th century solidified Anglican
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 rule in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the iconic victories of the Siege of Derry
Siege of Derry
The Siege of Derry took place in Ireland from 18 April to 28 July 1689, during the Williamite War in Ireland. The city, a Williamite stronghold, was besieged by a Jacobite army until it was relieved by Royal Navy ships...

 (1689) and the Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne
The Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish and Irish thronesthe Catholic King James and the Protestant King William across the River Boyne near Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland...

 (1690) in this latter war are still celebrated today by the Unionist
Unionism in Ireland
Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain...

 community (both Anglican and Presbyterian).

Following the victory of 1691, and contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Limerick
Treaty of Limerick
The Treaty of Limerick ended the Williamite war in Ireland between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange. It concluded the Siege of Limerick. The treaty really consisted of two treaties which were signed on 3 October 1691. Reputedly they were signed on the Treaty Stone, an...

, a series of penal laws was passed by the Anglican ruling class
Protestant Ascendancy
The Protestant Ascendancy, usually known in Ireland simply as the Ascendancy, is a phrase used when referring to the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland by a minority of great landowners, Protestant clergy, and professionals, all members of the Established Church during the 17th...

 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, militant societies develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian
Sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

 tensions in violent attacks. These events escalated at the end of the century following an event known as the Battle of the Diamond
Battle of the Diamond
The Battle of the Diamond was a violent confrontation between the Catholic Defenders and a Protestant faction including Peep o' Day Boys, Orange Boys and local tenant farmers that took place on 21 September 1795 near Loughgall, County Armagh, Ireland. The Protestants were the victors, killing...

, which saw the supremacy of the Anglican and Presbyterian Peep o'Day Boys
Peep O'Day Boys
The Peep o' Day Boys was a Protestant secret association in 18th century Ireland, active in the 1780s and '90s and a precursor of the Orange Order.-Origins:The Peep-of-day Boys arose in the year 1784, in County Armagh, Ireland...

 over the Catholic Defenders
Defenders (Ireland)
The Defenders were a militant, vigilante agrarian secret society in 18th century Ireland, mainly Roman Catholic and from Ulster, who allied with the United Irishmen but did little during the rebellion of 1798.-Origin:...

 and leading to the formation of the (Anglican) Orange Order. A rebellion in 1798 led by the cross-community Belfast-based Society of the United Irishmen
Society of the United Irishmen
The Society of United Irishmen was founded as a liberal political organisation in eighteenth century Ireland that sought Parliamentary reform. However, it evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France...

 and inspired by the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 sought to break the constitutional ties between Ireland and Britain and unite Irishmen and -women of all communities. 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
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 pushed for the two kingdoms to be merged. The new state, formed in 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, 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.

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, legal reforms started in the late 18th century
Catholic Emancipation
Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in Great Britain and Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century which involved reducing and removing many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics which had been introduced by the Act of Uniformity, the Test Acts and the penal laws...

 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
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

, was imminent. 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
Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and partly governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords which make up the Houses of Parliament. This Act must be construed as one with the Parliament Act 1949...

, 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, opponents to home rule from Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 leaders such as Andrew Bonar Law and Dublin-based barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 Sir Edward Carson to militant unionists in Ireland threatened the use of violence. In 1914, they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition
Larne Gun Running
The Larne gun-running was a major gun smuggling operation organised in Ireland by Major Frederick H. Crawford and Captain Wilfrid Spender for the Ulster Unionist Council to equip the Ulster Volunteer Force...

 from Imperial Germany for use by the Ulster Volunteers, 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
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

 and County Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

, with small majorities in County Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

 and County Londonderry
County Londonderry
The place name Derry is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire meaning oak-grove or oak-wood. As with the city, its name is subject to the Derry/Londonderry name dispute, with the form Derry preferred by nationalists and Londonderry preferred by unionists...

. There were substantial numbers also concentrated in County Fermanagh
County Fermanagh
Fermanagh District Council is the only one of the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland that contains all of the county it is named after. The district council also contains a small section of County Tyrone in the Dromore and Kilskeery road areas....

 and County Tyrone
County Tyrone
Historically Tyrone stretched as far north as Lough Foyle, and comprised part of modern day County Londonderry east of the River Foyle. The majority of County Londonderry was carved out of Tyrone between 1610-1620 when that land went to the Guilds of London to set up profit making schemes based on...

. These six counties (i.e. four majority-unionist counties and two majority-nationalist counties) would later constitute Northern Ireland. All of the remaining 26 counties which later became the Republic of Ireland were overwhelmingly majority-nationalist.
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
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

. 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 (during which the 1916 Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 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
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 proposed a new bill which would divide Ireland into two home rule areas: twenty-six counties being ruled from Dublin and six being ruled from Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

. Straddling these two areas would be a shared Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 who would appoint both governments and a Council of Ireland
Council of Ireland
The Council of Ireland may refer to one of two councils, one established in the 1920s, the other in the 1970s.-Council of Ireland :...

, which Lloyd George believed would evolve into an all-Ireland parliament. Events had however overtaken government. In the general election of 1918
United Kingdom general election, 1918
The United Kingdom general election of 1918 was the first to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, which meant it was the first United Kingdom general election in which nearly all adult men and some women could vote. Polling was held on 14 December 1918, although the count did...

, the pro-independence Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 won seventy-three of the one hundred and five parliamentary seats in Ireland and established an extrajudicial parliament in Ireland
First Dáil
The First Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919–1921. In 1919 candidates who had been elected in the Westminster elections of 1918 refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled as a unicameral, revolutionary parliament called "Dáil Éireann"...

.

Ireland was partitioned
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland
Southern Ireland was a short-lived autonomous region of the United Kingdom established on 3 May 1921 and dissolved on 6 December 1922.Southern Ireland was established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 together with its sister region, Northern Ireland...

 in 1921 under the terms of Lloyd George's Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

 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
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

, Northern Ireland provisionally became an autonomous part of the newly independent Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

.

Northern Ireland


However, as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 resolved the following day to opt out of the Irish Free State at the earliest possible opportunity (they had one month to do so). 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
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

, 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. 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, 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
Government of Northern Ireland
The Government of Northern Ireland is, generally speaking, whatever political body exercises political authority over Northern Ireland. A number of separate systems of government exist or have existed in Northern Ireland....

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


In June 1940, to encourage the Irish state to join with the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 indicated to the Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 that the United Kingdom would push for Irish unity, but believing that Churchill could not deliver, de Valera declined the offer. (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
Ireland Act 1949
The Ireland Act 1949 is a British Act of Parliament that was intended to deal with the consequences of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 as passed by the Irish parliament...

gave the first legal guarantee to the Parliament
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 and Government
Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland
The Executive Committee or the Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland was the government of Northern Ireland created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Generally known as either the Cabinet or the Government, the Executive Committee existed from 1922 to 1972...

 that Northern Ireland would not cease to be part of the United Kingdom without consent of the majority of its citizens.

The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

, starting in the late 1960s, consisted of about thirty years of recurring acts of intense violence between elements of Northern Ireland's nationalist
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 community (principally Roman Catholic) and unionist community (principally Protestant) during which 3,254 people were killed. 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
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was an organisation which campaigned for equal civil rights for the all the people in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s and early 1970s...

, modelling itself on the US civil rights movement, led a campaign of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

 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. 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", "thirty-two county" Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

, 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
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and the police (the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Royal Ulster Constabulary
The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the name of the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2000. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, it was subsequently known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 out of the Royal Irish Constabulary...

) – 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. 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
Police Ombudsman
The Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is a non-departmental public body intended to provide an independent, impartial police complaints system for the people and police under the Police Acts of 1998 and 2000.-Personnel:...

 has confirmed that British forces, and in particular the RUC, did collude with loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 paramilitaries, 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. 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. In 1973, Northern Ireland held a referendum
Northern Ireland referendum, 1973
The Northern Ireland sovereignty referendum of 1973 was a referendum held in Northern Ireland on 8 March 1973 on whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom or join with the Republic of Ireland to form a united Ireland...

 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.

Recent history


The Troubles were brought to an uneasy end by a peace process
Northern Ireland peace process
The peace process, when discussing the history of Northern Ireland, is often considered to cover the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army ceasefire, the end of most of the violence of the Troubles, the Belfast Agreement, and subsequent political developments.-Towards a...

 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, 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. 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
Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland
Article 2 and Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland were adopted with the constitution as a whole on 29 December 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took effect on 2 December 1999...

, 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 time, 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. 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.

These institutions were suspended by the British Government in 2002 after Police Service of Northern Ireland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the police force that serves Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland....

 (PSNI) allegations of spying by people working for Sinn Féin at the Assembly (Stormontgate
Stormontgate
Stormontgate is the name given to the controversy surrounding an alleged Provisional Irish Republican Army spy-ring and intelligence gathering operation based in Stormont, the parliament building of Northern Ireland...

). 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
Arsenal
An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those...

. 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
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was established to oversee the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland, as part of the peace process.-Legislation and organisation:...

 and two external church witnesses. Many unionists, however, remain sceptical. 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. 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
Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2003
The second elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which at the time of the elections had been suspended for just over a year, were held on Wednesday 26 November 2003. Six members were elected by Single Transferable Vote from each of Northern Ireland's eighteen Westminster Parliamentary...

 were called together on 15 May 2006 under the 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.

Following the election
Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2007
The third elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly were held on 7 March 2007 when 108 new members were elected. The election saw endorsement of the St Andrews Agreement and the two largest parties, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, along with the Alliance Party, increase their...

 held on 7 March 2007, devolved government returned to Northern Ireland on 8 May 2007 with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside, PC is a politician and church minister in Northern Ireland. As the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party , he and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness were elected First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively on 8 May 2007.In addition to co-founding...

 and Sinn Féin deputy leader Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
James Martin Pacelli McGuinness is an Irish Sinn Féin politician and the current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. McGuinness was also the Sinn Féin candidate for the Irish presidential election, 2011. He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland....

 taking office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively. The current First Minister is Peter Robinson, having taken over as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and the current deputy First Minister is Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
James Martin Pacelli McGuinness is an Irish Sinn Féin politician and the current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. McGuinness was also the Sinn Féin candidate for the Irish presidential election, 2011. He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland....

 of Sinn Féin.

Governance




Northern Ireland has devolved
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

 government within the United Kingdom. There is a Northern Ireland Executive
Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

 together with the 108-member Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

 to deal with devolved matters with the UK Government and UK Parliament responsible for reserved matters
Reserved matters
In the United Kingdom reserved matters and excepted matters are the areas of government policy where Parliament had kept the power to make laws in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales....

. Elections to the Assembly are by single transferable vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

 with 6 representatives elected for each of the 18 Westminster constituencies. Northern Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

, separate from England & Wales
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

 and Scotland
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

. It is also an electoral region
Northern Ireland (European Parliament constituency)
Northern Ireland is a constituency of the European Parliament. It currently elects three MEPs using the Single Transferable Vote, the only United Kingdom constituency to do so.- Members of the European Parliament :- 2009 :...

 of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

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
Northern Ireland Office
The Northern Ireland Office is a United Kingdom government department responsible for Northern Ireland affairs. The NIO is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and is based in Northern Ireland at Stormont House.-Role:...

 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
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, informally the Northern Ireland Secretary, is the principal secretary of state in the government of the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State is a Minister of the Crown who is accountable to the Parliament of...

, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

.

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
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 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
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, descendants of mainly Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, English, Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 settlers as well as Old Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 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. Discrimination against nationalists under the Stormont
Parliament Buildings (Northern Ireland)
The Parliament Buildings, known as Stormont because of its location in the Stormont area of Belfast is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive...

 government (1921–1972) gave rise to the nationalist civil rights movement
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was an organisation which campaigned for equal civil rights for the all the people in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s and early 1970s...

 in the 1960s.

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, were a major contributing factor which led to the long-running conflict known as the Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

. 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
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 and 40% define themselves as neither. 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
Direct Rule
Direct rule was the term given, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, to the administration of Northern Ireland directly from Westminster, seat of United Kingdom government...

 or with devolved government
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

), while 21% express a preference for membership of a united Ireland. 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%).

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". 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. 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
Irish question
The Irish Question was a phrase used mainly by members of the British ruling classes from the early 19th century until the 1920s. It was used to describe Irish nationalism and the calls for Irish independence....

 is very complicated. Many voters (regardless of religious affiliation) are attracted to Unionism's conservative
National conservatism
National conservatism is a political term used primarily in Europe to describe a variant of conservatism which concentrates more on national interests than standard conservatism as well as upholding cultural and ethnic identity, while not being outspokenly nationalist or supporting a far-right...

 policies, while other voters are instead attracted to the traditionally leftist, nationalist Sinn Féin and Social Democratic and Labour Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
The Social Democratic and Labour Party is a social-democratic, Irish nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. Its basic party platform advocates Irish reunification, and the further devolution of powers while Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom...

 (SDLP) and their respective party platforms for Democratic Socialism
Democratic socialism
Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

 and Social Democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

.

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, 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. The make-up of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

 reflects the appeals of the various parties within the population. Of the 108 MLA
Member of the Legislative Assembly (Northern Ireland)
Member of the Legislative Assembly is a representative elected by the voters to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Northern Ireland.- About :...

s, 55 are Unionists and 44 are Nationalists (the remaining nine are classified as "other").

Citizenship and identity


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, 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.

As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 was amended so that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens
Irish nationality law
Irish nationality law is the law of the Republic of Ireland governing citizenship. A person may be an Irish citizen through birth, descent, marriage to an Irish citizen or through naturalisation. Irish nationality law is currently contained in the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship...

 on the same basis as people from any other part of the island of Ireland.

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
Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
The Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland provided that children born on the island of Ireland to parents who were both non-nationals would no longer have a constitutional right to citizenship of the Republic of Ireland...

 in 2004.

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, 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, 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.

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), laws and administration relating to Northern Ireland were handled directly from Westminster
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

. Between the years 1999 and 2002 (except during a brief suspension), and since May 2007, devolution has returned to Northern Ireland.

Demography of Northern Ireland


The population of Northern Ireland has increased annually since 1978.

Ethnicity

  • White
    White people
    White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

    : 1,670,988 (99.15%)
    • Northern Ireland born: 91.0%
    • Other UK or Republic of Ireland born: 7.2%
    • Irish Traveller
      Irish Traveller
      Irish Travellers are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, who maintain a separate language and set of traditions. They live predominantly in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.-Etymology:...

      : 1,710 (0.10%)
  • Asian: 6,824
    • Chinese
      Overseas Chinese
      Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

      : 4,145 (0.25%)
    • Indian
      Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin
      A Non-Resident Indian is an Indian citizen who has migrated to another country, a person of Indian origin who is born outside India, or a person of Indian origin who resides permanently outside India. Other terms with the same meaning are overseas Indian and expatriate Indian...

      : 1,567 (0.09%)
    • Pakistani: 666 (0.04%)
    • Bangladeshi
      British Bangladeshi
      A British Bangladeshi is a person of Bangladeshi origin who resides in the United Kingdom having emigrated to the UK and attained citizenship through naturalisation or whose parents did so; they are also known as British Bengalis...

      : 252 (0.01%)
    • Other Asian: 194 (0.01%)
  • Black
    Black people
    The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

    : 1,136
    • Black African: 494 (0.03%)
    • Black Caribbean: 255 (0.02%)
    • Other Black: 387 (0.02%)
  • Other ethnic groups: 1,290 (0.08%)
  • Mixed: 3,319 (0.20%)

Religion


The population of Northern Ireland was estimated as being 1,759,000 on 10 December 2008. In the 2001 census, 45.57% of the population identified as belonging to Protestant or other non-Roman Catholic denominations (20.69% Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland , is the largest Presbyterian denomination in Ireland, and the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland...

, 15.30% Church of Ireland, 3.51% Methodist
Methodist Church in Ireland
The Methodist Church in Ireland is a Wesleyan Methodist church that operates across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on an all Ireland basis, It is the 4th largest Christian denomination in both jurisdictions and on the island as a whole...

, 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. 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.

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 Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

 and the former Northern Ireland Flag
Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland
The Executive Committee or the Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland was the government of Northern Ireland created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Generally known as either the Cabinet or the Government, the Executive Committee existed from 1922 to 1972...

 are flown in some loyalist areas, and the Tricolour, adopted by republicans as the flag of Ireland
Flag of Ireland
The national flag of Ireland is a vertical tricolour of green , white, and orange. It is also known as the Irish tricolour. The flag proportion is 1:2...

 in 1848, is flown in some republican areas. Even kerbstones
Curb (road)
A curb, or kerb , is the edge where a raised pavement/sidewalk/footpath, road median, or road shoulder meets an unraised street or other roadway.-Function:...

 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
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

. The Northern Ireland flag was previously the former Governmental Northern Ireland banner (also known as the "Ulster Banner
Ulster Banner
The Ulster Banner, more commonly known as the Ulster flag, Northern Ireland flag or the Red Hand of Ulster flag, was the flag of the Government of Northern Ireland between 1953 and 1972. Since that government was abolished in 1972, the flag has become a symbol of Ulster loyalism and is not...

" or "Red Hand Flag"). It was based on the arms of the former Parliament of Northern Ireland
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

, 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: 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.

The Irish Rugby Football Union
Irish Rugby Football Union
The Irish Rugby Football Union is the body managing rugby union in Ireland. The IRFU has its head office at 10/12 Lansdowne Road and home ground at Aviva Stadium, where Irish rugby union international matches are played...

 and the Church of Ireland have used the Flag of St. Patrick
Saint Patrick's Flag
Saint Patrick's Cross is a red saltire on a white field. In heraldic language, it may be blazoned Argent, a saltire gules. Saint Patrick's Flag is a flag composed of Saint Patrick's Saltire....

. It was used to represent Ireland when the whole island was part of the UK and is used by some British army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 regiments. Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinian
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 flags in some Nationalist areas and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i flags in some Unionist areas. This is also true during matches with Scottish teams.

The United Kingdom national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 of "God Save the Queen
God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen" is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, with "King" replacing "Queen", "he" replacing "she", and so forth, when a king reigns...

" is often played at state events in Northern Ireland. At the Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 and takes place every four years....

, the Northern Ireland team uses the Ulster Banner as its flag and Londonderry Air
Londonderry Air
Londonderry Air is an air that originated from County Londonderry in Ireland. It is popular among the Irish diaspora and is very well known throughout the world. The tune is played as the victory anthem of Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. "Danny Boy" is a popular set of lyrics to the...

(usually set to lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

 as Danny Boy
Danny Boy
-Background:The words to "Danny Boy" were written by English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly in 1910. Although the lyrics were originally written for a different tune, Weatherly modified them to fit the "Londonderry Air" in 1913, after his sister-in-law in the U.S. sent him a copy. Ernestine...

) is used as its national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

. The Northern Ireland football team
Northern Ireland national football team
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. Before 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association...

 also uses the Ulster Banner as its flag but uses "God Save The Queen" as its national anthem.
Major Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 matches are opened by the Republic of Ireland national anthem, "Amhrán na bhFiann
Amhrán na bhFiann
is the national anthem of Ireland. The music was composed by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney, and the original English lyrics were authored by Kearney. It is sung in the Irish language translation made by Liam Ó Rinn. The song has three verses, but the national anthem consists of the chorus only...

 (The Soldier's Song)", which is also used by some other all-Ireland sporting organisations.
Since 1995, the Ireland rugby union team has used a specially commissioned song, "Ireland's Call
Ireland's Call
Ireland's Call is a song commissioned by the Irish Rugby Football Union for use at international Rugby Union fixtures.It has since also been adopted by the Irish Hockey, Cricket, Rugby League and A1GP teams.- Overview :...

" 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.

Northern Irish murals
Northern Irish murals
Murals in Northern Ireland have become symbols of Northern Ireland, depicting the region's past and present political and religious divisions.Northern Ireland contains arguably the most famous political murals. Almost 2,000 murals have been documented in Northern Ireland since the 1970s...

 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).

Geography and climate




Northern Ireland was covered by an ice sheet
Ice sheet
An ice sheet is a mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50,000 km² , thus also known as continental glacier...

 for most of the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 and on numerous previous occasions, the legacy of which can be seen in the extensive coverage of drumlin
Drumlin
A drumlin, from the Irish word droimnín , first recorded in 1833, is an elongated whale-shaped hill formed by glacial ice acting on underlying unconsolidated till or ground moraine.-Drumlin formation:...

s in Counties Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and particularly Down. The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh
Lough Neagh
Lough Neagh, sometimes Loch Neagh, is a large freshwater lake in Northern Ireland. Its name comes .-Geography:With an area of , it is the largest lake in the British Isles and ranks among the forty largest lakes of Europe. Located twenty miles to the west of Belfast, it is approximately twenty...

, at 151 square miles (391 km²) the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne
Lough Erne
Lough Erne, sometimes Loch Erne , is the name of two connected lakes in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The lakes are widened sections of the River Erne. The river begins by flowing north, and then curves west into the Atlantic. The southern lake is further up the river and so is named Upper...

 in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin
Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island is an island off the coast of County Antrim, and is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland. Rathlin is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland, with a rising population of now just over 100 people, and is the most northerly inhabited island off the Irish coast...

, off the north Antrim coast. Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough, sometimes Strangford Loch, is a large sea loch or inlet in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is separated from the Irish Sea by the Ards Peninsula. The name Strangford is derived ; describing the fast-flowing narrows at its mouth...

 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
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 Mourne Mountains and basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 Antrim Plateau, as well as smaller ranges in South Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

 and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. None of the hills are especially high, with Slieve Donard
Slieve Donard
Slieve Donard is a 850 m mountain in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is part of the Mourne Mountains and the highest peak in Northern Ireland and in the wider province of Ulster. It is the 19th highest peak on the island of Ireland...

 in the dramatic Mournes reaching 849 metres (2,785 ft), Northern Ireland's highest point. Belfast's most prominent peak is Cavehill
Cavehill
Cavehill, historically known as Ben Madigan , is a basaltic hill overlooking the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It forms part of the southeastern border of the Antrim Plateau. It is distinguished by its famous 'Napoleon's Nose', a basaltic outcrop which resembles the profile of the famous...

. The volcanic activity which created the Antrim Plateau also formed the eerily geometric pillars of the Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills...

 on the north Antrim coast. Also in north Antrim are the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope suspension bridge near Ballintoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island. The site is owned and maintained by the National Trust, spans twenty metres and is thirty metres above the rocks below. Today the bridge...

, Mussenden Temple
Mussenden Temple
Mussenden Temple is a small circular building located on cliffs near Castlerock in County Londonderry, high above the Atlantic Ocean on the north-western coast of Northern Ireland....

 and the Glens of Antrim
Glens of Antrim
The Glens of Antrim , known locally as simply The Glens, is a region of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It comprises nine glens , that radiate from the Antrim Plateau to the coast. The Glens are an area of outstanding natural beauty and are a major tourist attraction in north Antrim...

.
The Lower and Upper River Bann
River Bann
The River Bann is the longest river in Northern Ireland, the total length being 80 miles . The river winds its way from the south east corner of Northern Ireland to the north west coast, pausing in the middle to widen into the enormous Lough Neagh...

, River Foyle
River Foyle
The River Foyle is a river in west Ulster in the northwest of Ireland, which flows from the confluence of the rivers Finn and Mourne at the towns of Lifford in County Donegal, Republic of Ireland, and Strabane in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. From here it flows to the City of Derry, where it...

 and River Blackwater
River Blackwater, Northern Ireland
The River Blackwater is a river in County Armagh and County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, as well as County Monaghan and County Cavan in Republic of Ireland, which has its source to the north of Fivemiletown, County Tyrone...

 form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry.

The valley of the River Lagan
River Lagan
The River Lagan is a major river in Northern Ireland which runs 40 miles from the Slieve Croob mountain in County Down to Belfast where it enters Belfast Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea. The River Lagan forms much of the border between County Antrim and County Down. It rises as a tiny fast...

 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
Belfast Lough
Belfast Lough is a large, natural intertidal sea lough at the mouth of the River Lagan on the east coast of Northern Ireland. The inner part of the lough comprises a series of mudflats and lagoons. The outer lough is restricted to mainly rocky shores with some small sandy bays...

.
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. 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
Garrison, County Fermanagh
Garrison is a small village near Lough Melvin in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The Roogagh River runs through the village. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 357 people...

 on 30 June 1976 and at Belfast on 12 July 1983.

Lowest minimum temperature: -18.7 °C at Castlederg
Castlederg
Castlederg is a village in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Derg and is close to the border with County Donegal. The village has a ruined castle and two ancient tombs known as the Druid's Altar and Todd's Den...

, County Tyrone
County Tyrone
Historically Tyrone stretched as far north as Lough Foyle, and comprised part of modern day County Londonderry east of the River Foyle. The majority of County Londonderry was carved out of Tyrone between 1610-1620 when that land went to the Guilds of London to set up profit making schemes based on...

 on 23 December 2010.

Counties





Northern Ireland consists of six historic counties
Counties of Ireland
The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions used for the purposes of geographic demarcation and local government. Closely related to the county is the County corporate which covered towns or cities which were deemed to be important enough to be independent from their counties. A county...

: County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

, County Armagh, County Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

, County Fermanagh
County Fermanagh
Fermanagh District Council is the only one of the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland that contains all of the county it is named after. The district council also contains a small section of County Tyrone in the Dromore and Kilskeery road areas....

, County Londonderry
County Londonderry
The place name Derry is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire meaning oak-grove or oak-wood. As with the city, its name is subject to the Derry/Londonderry name dispute, with the form Derry preferred by nationalists and Londonderry preferred by unionists...

, County Tyrone
County Tyrone
Historically Tyrone stretched as far north as Lough Foyle, and comprised part of modern day County Londonderry east of the River Foyle. The majority of County Londonderry was carved out of Tyrone between 1610-1620 when that land went to the Guilds of London to set up profit making schemes based on...



These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead there are twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland
Districts of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is divided into 26 districts for local government purposes. In Northern Ireland local councils do not carry out the same range of functions as those in the rest of the United Kingdom, for example they have no responsibility for education, for road building or for housing...

 which have different geographical extents, even in the case of those named after the counties from which they derive their name. Fermanagh District Council
Fermanagh District Council
Fermanagh District Council is a local council in Northern Ireland. The borders of the district are very similar to those of the traditional County Fermanagh, containing all of that county plus a small section of County Tyrone in the Dromore Road and Kilskeery Road areas. Council headquarters are...

 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.

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
Irish passport
Irish passports are issued by the Consular and Passport Division of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, Ireland.-Physical appearance:...

, 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, as opposed to the town or city of birth on the United Kingdom passport. The Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 still uses the counties as its primary means of organisation and fields representative teams of each GAA county
GAA county
A Gaelic Athletic Association county is a geographic region within the Gaelic Athletic Association , controlled by a county board and originally based on the counties of Ireland as they were in 1884. While the counties of Ireland have changed since the foundation of that date, the GAA counties have...

. 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.

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
Lisburn
DemographicsLisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area and is classified as a Large Town by the . On census day there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn...

, which are split between counties Down and Antrim (the majorities of both cities, however, are in Antrim).

Cities





There are five major settlements with city status
City status in the United Kingdom
City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to a select group of communities. The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights other than that of calling itself a "city". Nonetheless, this appellation carries its own prestige and, consequently, competitions...

 in Northern Ireland:
  • Armagh
    Armagh
    Armagh is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is a site of historical importance for both Celtic paganism and Christianity and is the seat, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, of the Archbishop of Armagh...

  • Belfast
    Belfast
    Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

  • Derry
    Derry
    Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

  • Lisburn
    Lisburn
    DemographicsLisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area and is classified as a Large Town by the . On census day there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn...

  • Newry
    Newry
    Newry is a city in Northern Ireland. The River Clanrye, which runs through the city, formed the historic border between County Armagh and County Down. It is from Belfast and from Dublin. Newry had a population of 27,433 at the 2001 Census, while Newry and Mourne Council Area had a population...


Towns and villages


The following is a list of towns (settlements with at least 4,500 inhabitants) in Northern Ireland.
  • Antrim
    Antrim, County Antrim
    Antrim is a town in County Antrim in the northeast of Northern Ireland, on the banks of the Six Mile Water, half a mile north-east of Lough Neagh. It had a population of 20,001 people in the 2001 Census. The town is the administrative centre of Antrim Borough Council...

  • Ballycastle
    Ballycastle, County Antrim
    Ballycastle is a small town in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Its population was 5,089 people in the 2001 Census. It is the seat and main settlement of Moyle District Council....

    , Ballyclare
    Ballyclare
    Ballyclare is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,770 people in the 2001 Census...

    , Ballymena
    Ballymena
    Ballymena is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and the seat of Ballymena Borough Council. Ballymena had a population of 28,717 people in the 2001 Census....

    , Ballymoney
    Ballymoney
    Ballymoney is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 9,021 people in the 2001 Census. It is currently served by Ballymoney Borough Council....

    , Ballynahinch, Banbridge
    Banbridge
    Banbridge is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Bann and the A1 road. It was named after a bridge built over the Bann in 1712. The town grew as a coaching stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin and thrived from Irish linen manufacturing...

    , Bangor
  • Carrickfergus
    Carrickfergus
    Carrickfergus , known locally and colloquially as "Carrick", is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is located on the north shore of Belfast Lough, from Belfast. The town had a population of 27,201 at the 2001 Census and takes its name from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, the 6th century king...

    , Carryduff
    Carryduff
    Carryduff is a small town and townland in County Down, Northern Ireland, about south of Belfast city centre. It had a population of 6,595 people in the 2001 Census....

    , Coalisland
    Coalisland
    Coalisland is a small town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, with a population of 4,917 people . As its name suggests, it was formerly a centre for coal mining.-History:...

    , Coleraine
    Coleraine
    Coleraine is a large town near the mouth of the River Bann in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is northwest of Belfast and east of Derry, both of which are linked by major roads and railway connections...

    , Comber
    Comber
    Comber is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies 5 miles south of Newtownards, at the northern end of Strangford Lough. It had a population of 8,933 people in the 2001 Census. Comber is part of the Borough of Ards...

    , Cookstown
    Cookstown
    Cookstown may refer to either of the following:*Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland*Cookstown, Ontario, Canada*Cookstown, New Jersey, United States...

    , Craigavon
    Craigavon
    Craigavon is a settlement in north County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It was a planned settlement that was begun in 1965 and named after Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister — James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon. It was intended to be a linear city incorporating Lurgan and Portadown, but this plan...

  • Donaghadee
    Donaghadee
    Donaghadee is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the northeast coast of the Ards Peninsula, about east of Belfast and about six miles south east of Bangor. It had a population of 6,470 people in the 2001 Census...

    , Downpatrick
    Downpatrick
    Downpatrick is a medium-sized town about 33 km south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the county town of Down with a rich history and strong connection to Saint Patrick. It had a population of 10,316 at the 2001 Census...

    , Dromore
    Dromore, County Down
    Dromore is a small market town in the Banbridge District of County Down, Northern Ireland. It is south-west of Belfast, on the A1 Belfast – Dublin road. The 2001 Census recorded a population of 4,968 people....

    , Dundonald
    Dundonald
    Dundonald is a large settlement in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies east of Belfast and is often deemed to be a suburb of the city. It includes the large housing estate of Ballybeen, and many new housing estates have emerged in the past ten years....

    , Dungannon
    Dungannon
    Dungannon is a medium-sized town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the third-largest town in the county and a population of 11,139 people was recorded in the 2001 Census. In August 2006, Dungannon won Ulster In Bloom's Best Kept Town Award for the fifth time...

  • Enniskillen
    Enniskillen
    Enniskillen is a town in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is located almost exactly in the centre of the county between the Upper and Lower sections of Lough Erne. It had a population of 13,599 in the 2001 Census...

  • Holywood
    Holywood
    Holywood is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the shore of Belfast Lough, between Belfast and Bangor. Holywood Exchange and Belfast City Airport are nearby. The town hosts an annual jazz and blues festival.-Name:...

  • Kilkeel
    Kilkeel
    Kilkeel is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the main fishing port on the Down coast, and its harbour houses one of the largest fishing fleets in Ireland. It had a population of 6,338 people according to the 2001 Census...

  • Larne
    Larne
    Larne is a substantial seaport and industrial market town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland with a population of 18,228 people in the 2001 Census. As of 2011, there are about 31,000 residents in the greater Larne area. It has been used as a seaport for over 1,000 years, and is...

    , Limavady
    Limavady
    Limavady is a market town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, with Binevenagh as a backdrop. It lies east of Derry and south west of Coleraine. It had a population of 12,135 people in the 2001 Census, an increase of some 17% compared to 1991...

    , Lurgan
    Lurgan
    Lurgan is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The town is near the southern shore of Lough Neagh and in the north-eastern corner of the county. Part of the Craigavon Borough Council area, Lurgan is about 18 miles south-west of Belfast and is linked to the city by both the M1 motorway...

  • Magherafelt
    Magherafelt
    Magherafelt is a small town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,372 people recorded in the 2001 Census. It is the biggest town in the south of County Londonderry and is the social, economic and political hub of the area...

  • Newcastle
    Newcastle, County Down
    Newcastle is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 7,444 people recorded in the 2001 Census. The seaside resort lies on the Irish Sea coast at the base of Slieve Donard, one of the Mourne Mountains, and is known for its sandy beach and the Royal County Down Golf Club...

    , Newtownabbey
    Newtownabbey
    Newtownabbey is a large town north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sometimes considered to be a suburb of Belfast, it is separated from the rest of the city by Cavehill and Fortwilliam golf course...

    , Newtownards
    Newtownards
    Newtownards is a large town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies at the most northern tip of Strangford Lough, 10 miles east of Belfast, on the Ards Peninsula. Newtownards is the largest town in the Borough of Ards. According to the 2001 Census, it has a population of 27,821 people in...

  • Omagh
    Omagh
    Omagh is the county town of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is situated where the rivers Drumragh and Camowen meet to form the Strule. The town, which is the largest in the county, had a population of 19,910 at the 2001 Census. Omagh also contains the headquarters of Omagh District Council and...

  • Portadown
    Portadown
    Portadown is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The town sits on the River Bann in the north of the county, about 23 miles south-west of Belfast...

    , Portrush
    Portrush
    Portrush is a small seaside resort town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the County Londonderry border. The main part of the old town, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a mile–long peninsula, Ramore Head, pointing north-northwest....

    , Portstewart
    Portstewart
    Portstewart is a small town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 7,803 people in the 2001 Census. It is a seaside resort neighbouring Portrush. Of the two towns, Portstewart is decidedly quieter with more sedate attractions. Its harbour and scenic coastal paths form an...

  • Randalstown
    Randalstown
    Randalstown is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, located between the towns of Antrim and Toome. It had a population of 4,956 people in the 2001 Census. It has a very prominent disused railway viaduct and lies beside Lough Neagh and the Shane's Castle estate...

  • Strabane
    Strabane
    Strabane , historically spelt Straban,is a town in west County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It contains the headquarters of Strabane District Council....

  • Warrenpoint
    Warrenpoint
    Warrenpoint is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the northern shore of Carlingford Lough and is separated from the Republic of Ireland by a narrow strait. The town sprang up within the townland of Ringmackilroy...


Economy



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. 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.

Transport


Northern Ireland is served by three airports – Belfast International
Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport is a major airport located northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It was formerly known and is still referred to as Aldergrove Airport, after the village of the same name lying immediately to the west of the airport. Belfast International shares its runways with...

 near Antrim
Antrim, County Antrim
Antrim is a town in County Antrim in the northeast of Northern Ireland, on the banks of the Six Mile Water, half a mile north-east of Lough Neagh. It had a population of 20,001 people in the 2001 Census. The town is the administrative centre of Antrim Borough Council...

, George Best Belfast City
George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport is a single-runway airport in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Situated adjacent to the Port of Belfast it is from Belfast City Centre. It shares the site with the Short Brothers/Bombardier aircraft manufacturing facility...

 in East Belfast, and City of Derry
City of Derry Airport
City of Derry Airport is an airport located northeast of Derry, Northern Ireland. It is located on the south bank of Lough Foyle, a short distance from the village of Eglinton and from the city centre...

 in County Londonderry.

Major sea ports at Larne
Larne
Larne is a substantial seaport and industrial market town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland with a population of 18,228 people in the 2001 Census. As of 2011, there are about 31,000 residents in the greater Larne area. It has been used as a seaport for over 1,000 years, and is...

 and Belfast
Port of Belfast
Belfast Harbour is a major maritime gateway in Northern Ireland, serving the Northern Ireland economy and increasingly that of the Republic of Ireland...

 carry passengers and freight between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Passenger railways are operated by Northern Ireland Railways
Northern Ireland Railways
NI Railways, also known as Northern Ireland Railways and for a brief period of time, Ulster Transport Railways , is the railway operator in Northern Ireland...

. With Iarnrod Éireann
Iarnród Éireann
Iarnród Éireann is the national railway system operator of Ireland. Established on 2 February 1987, it is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann . It operates all internal intercity, commuter and freight railway services in the Republic of Ireland, and, jointly with Northern Ireland Railways, the...

 (Irish Rail), Northern Ireland Railways
Northern Ireland Railways
NI Railways, also known as Northern Ireland Railways and for a brief period of time, Ulster Transport Railways , is the railway operator in Northern Ireland...

 co-operates in providing the joint Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast.

Main motorways are:
  • M1
    M1 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M1 is a motorway in Northern Ireland. It is the longest motorway in Northern Ireland and runs for from Belfast to Dungannon through County Down and County Armagh...

     connecting Belfast to the south and west, ending in Dungannon
    Dungannon
    Dungannon is a medium-sized town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the third-largest town in the county and a population of 11,139 people was recorded in the 2001 Census. In August 2006, Dungannon won Ulster In Bloom's Best Kept Town Award for the fifth time...

  • M12
    M12 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M12 is a 1½ miles length of spur motorway in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It was opened on 1970.It leads off the main M1 motorway, to Portadown, part of the conurbation of Portadown-Craigavon-Lurgan, and forms most of the route between junction 11 of the M1 and the A3 Northway at...

     connecting the M1
    M1 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M1 is a motorway in Northern Ireland. It is the longest motorway in Northern Ireland and runs for from Belfast to Dungannon through County Down and County Armagh...

     to Portadown
    Portadown
    Portadown is a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The town sits on the River Bann in the north of the county, about 23 miles south-west of Belfast...

  • M2
    M2 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M2 is a motorway in Belfast and County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It is in two sections, the southern section running from north Belfast to Antrim and the northern section acts as a bypass of Ballymena, with the A26 road linking the two sections. In total it is 22 miles...

     connecting Belfast to the north. An unconnected section of the M2
    M2 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M2 is a motorway in Belfast and County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It is in two sections, the southern section running from north Belfast to Antrim and the northern section acts as a bypass of Ballymena, with the A26 road linking the two sections. In total it is 22 miles...

     also by-passes Ballymena
    Ballymena
    Ballymena is a large town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and the seat of Ballymena Borough Council. Ballymena had a population of 28,717 people in the 2001 Census....

  • M22
    M22 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M22 is a motorway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is 5.6 miles long and connects the M2 with the A6. It forms part of the unsigned European route E16.-History:...

     connecting the M2
    M2 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M2 is a motorway in Belfast and County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It is in two sections, the southern section running from north Belfast to Antrim and the northern section acts as a bypass of Ballymena, with the A26 road linking the two sections. In total it is 22 miles...

     to near Randalstown
    Randalstown
    Randalstown is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, located between the towns of Antrim and Toome. It had a population of 4,956 people in the 2001 Census. It has a very prominent disused railway viaduct and lies beside Lough Neagh and the Shane's Castle estate...

  • M3
    M3 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M3 is an urban motorway 0.8 miles in length owned by Siac Construction and Cintra, S.A. that connects the M2 in north Belfast, Northern Ireland to the A2 Sydenham Bypass in east Belfast. It is the shortest motorway in Northern Ireland, and one of the busiest, carrying 60,000 vehicles per...

     connecting the M1 and M2 in Belfast with the A2 dual carriageway to Bangor
    Bangor, County Down
    Bangor is a large town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is a seaside resort on the southern side of Belfast Lough and within the Belfast Metropolitan Area. Bangor Marina is one of the largest in Ireland, and holds Blue Flag status...

  • M5
    M5 motorway (Northern Ireland)
    The M5 is a spur motorway of 1.4 miles length in north Belfast, Northern Ireland. It connects the M2 to the A2 Shore Road at Hazelbank in Newtownabbey...

     connecting Belfast to Newtownabbey
    Newtownabbey
    Newtownabbey is a large town north of Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Sometimes considered to be a suburb of Belfast, it is separated from the rest of the city by Cavehill and Fortwilliam golf course...



The cross-border road connecting the ports of Larne
Larne
Larne is a substantial seaport and industrial market town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland with a population of 18,228 people in the 2001 Census. As of 2011, there are about 31,000 residents in the greater Larne area. It has been used as a seaport for over 1,000 years, and is...

 in Northern Ireland and Rosslare Harbour
Rosslare Harbour
The village of Rosslare Harbour grew up to serve the needs of the harbour of the same name , first developed in 1906 by the Great Western Railway and the Great Southern and Western Railway to accommodate steamferry traffic between Great Britain and Ireland...

 in the Republic of Ireland is being upgraded as part of an EU-funded scheme. European route E01
European route E01
The European route E 01 is a series of roads in Europe, part of the United Nations International E-road network, running from Larne, Northern Ireland to Seville, Spain. There is a sea crossing between Rosslare Harbour, in Ireland, and Ferrol, but no ferry service...

 runs from Larne through the island of Ireland, Spain and Portugal to Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

.

Culture




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 house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

s, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing). Since 1987 public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

s 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
Ulaid
The Ulaid or Ulaidh were a people of early Ireland who gave their name to the modern province of Ulster...

 in what is now eastern Ulster. This is one of the four major cycles of Irish Mythology
Irish mythology
The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

. The cycle centres around the reign of Conchobar mac Nessa
Conchobar mac Nessa
Conchobar mac Nessa was the king of Ulster in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. He ruled from Emain Macha .-Birth:...

, who is said to have been king of Ulster around the time of Christ. He ruled from Emain Macha
Emain Macha
]Navan Fort – known in Old Irish as Eṁaın Ṁacha and in Modern Irish as Eamhain Mhacha – is an ancient monument in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. According to Irish legend, it was one of the major power centers of pre-Christian Ireland...

 (now Navan Fort near Armagh), and had a fierce rivalry with queen Medb
Medb
Medb – Middle Irish: Meḋḃ, Meaḋḃ; early modern Irish: Meadhbh ; reformed modern Irish Méabh, Medbh; sometimes Anglicised Maeve, Maev or Maive – is queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology...

 and king Ailill of Connacht and their ally, Fergus mac Róich
Fergus mac Róich
Fergus mac Róich is a character of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology...

, former king of Ulster. The foremost hero of the cycle is Conchobar's nephew Cúchulainn
Cúchulainn
Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

.

English


The dialect of English spoken in Northern Ireland shows influence from the lowland Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

. 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 in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

, and Catholics tend to pronounce as "haitch", as in Hiberno-English
Hiberno-English
Hiberno-English is the dialect of English written and spoken in Ireland .English was first brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion of the late 12th century. Initially it was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin, with Irish spoken throughout the rest of the country...

. 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
Belfast Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement , sometimes called the Stormont Agreement, was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process...

, Irish and 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".



Irish


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. 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. 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. 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. In the 20th century, the language became in Unionist eyes increasingly polarised for political ends and many in that community would blame Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 in this regard. After Ireland was partitioned, the language was largely rejected in the education system of the new Northern Ireland. It is argued that the predominant use of the English language may have served to exacerbate the Troubles.

The erection by some district councils of legal bilingual street names (English/Irish), invariably in predominantly Catholic/Nationalist/Republican districts, 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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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, 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.
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" (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.

Ulster Scots



Ulster Scots comprises varieties of the Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 spoken in Northern Ireland. Approximately 2% of the population claim to speak Ulster Scots, however the number speaking it as their main language in their home is negligible. 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".

Sign languages


Two sign languages are used in Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Sign Language
Northern Ireland Sign Language
Northern Ireland Sign language is a sign language used mainly by Deaf people in Northern Ireland.NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language and American Sign Language .A number of practitioners see Northern...

 (NISL) also known as British Sign Language
British Sign Language
British Sign Language is the sign language used in the United Kingdom , and is the first or preferred language of some deaf people in the UK; there are 125,000 deaf adults in the UK who use BSL plus an estimated 20,000 children. The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands,...

 (NI-BSL) and Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language is the sign language of Ireland, used primarily in the Republic of Ireland. It is also used in Northern Ireland, though British Sign Language is also used. Irish Sign Language is more closely related to French Sign Language than to British Sign Language, which was first used...

 (ISL).

The most common sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

 in Northern Ireland is Northern Ireland Sign Language
Northern Ireland Sign Language
Northern Ireland Sign language is a sign language used mainly by Deaf people in Northern Ireland.NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language and American Sign Language .A number of practitioners see Northern...

 (NISL), but as (in the past) Catholic families tended to send their deaf children to schools in Dublin (St Joseph's School for Deaf Boys and St. Mary's School for Deaf Girls), Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language is the sign language of Ireland, used primarily in the Republic of Ireland. It is also used in Northern Ireland, though British Sign Language is also used. Irish Sign Language is more closely related to French Sign Language than to British Sign Language, which was first used...

 (ISL) is commonly used among many older deaf people from Catholic families. The two languages are not related: NISL has a large component from the British family (which also includes Auslan
Auslan
Auslan is the sign language of the Australian deaf community. The term Auslan is an acronym of "Australian sign language", coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s, although the language itself is much older...

) with many borrowings from American Sign Language
American Sign Language
American Sign Language, or ASL, for a time also called Ameslan, is the dominant sign language of Deaf Americans, including deaf communities in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in some regions of Mexico...

, while ISL has some influence from the French family (which also includes American Sign Language
American Sign Language
American Sign Language, or ASL, for a time also called Ameslan, is the dominant sign language of Deaf Americans, including deaf communities in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in some regions of Mexico...

).

Northern Ireland Sign Language is described as being related to Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language
Irish Sign Language is the sign language of Ireland, used primarily in the Republic of Ireland. It is also used in Northern Ireland, though British Sign Language is also used. Irish Sign Language is more closely related to French Sign Language than to British Sign Language, which was first used...

 (ISL) at the syntactic level while the lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

 is based on British Sign Language
British Sign Language
British Sign Language is the sign language used in the United Kingdom , and is the first or preferred language of some deaf people in the UK; there are 125,000 deaf adults in the UK who use BSL plus an estimated 20,000 children. The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands,...

 (BSL) and American Sign Language
American Sign Language
American Sign Language, or ASL, for a time also called Ameslan, is the dominant sign language of Deaf Americans, including deaf communities in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in some regions of Mexico...

 (ASL).

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
Ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland
During The Troubles, the levels of immigration to Northern Ireland were low. However, there has been an increase since the power sharing agreement brought an end to official terrorist activity....

. Chinese and Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 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
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 in 2004, Central and Eastern European languages, particularly Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, 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.
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"
Derry-Londonderry name dispute
The names of the city, county, and district of Derry or Londonderry in Northern Ireland are the subject of a naming dispute between nationalists and unionists. Generally, although not always, one will find nationalists calling them Derry, and unionists referring to them as Londonderry...

.

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
Seamus Mallon
Seamus Frederick Mallon born 17 August 1936, in Markethill, County Armagh, is an Irish politician and former Deputy Leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland...

, 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".

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
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

) regularly call Northern Ireland "Ulster". Some nationalist and republican-leaning media outlets in Ireland almost always use "North of Ireland" or the "Six Counties".

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
University of Ulster
The University of Ulster is a multi-campus, co-educational university located in Northern Ireland. It is the largest single university in Ireland, discounting the federal National University of Ireland...

, the Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum
The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial...

, the Ulster Orchestra
Ulster Orchestra
The Ulster Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Belfast, the only full-time professional orchestra in Northern Ireland. The orchestra plays the majority of its concerts in Belfast's Ulster Hall and Waterfront Hall...

, and BBC Radio Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster is one of two Northern Irish BBC radio stations, the other being BBC Radio Foyle located in the city of Derry. BBC Radio Ulster is located at Broadcasting House in the Ormeau Avenue area of Belfast city centre...

.

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. Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Patrick Bartholomew "Bertie" Ahern is a former Irish politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008....

, the previous Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

, 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, 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. British newspapers with unionist leanings, such as the Daily Telegraph, usually use the language of the unionist community. However the more left-wing Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

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. Gaelic games
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 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
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

, only a charter issued by the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 could change the name. 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.

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.

Unionist/Loyalist

  • Ulster
    Ulster
    Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

    , 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. 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. The BBC
    BBC
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

    , 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

Nationalist/Republican

  • North of Ireland (Tuaisceart na hÉireann) or North-East Ireland (Oirthuaisceart Éireann)- to emphasise the link of Northern Ireland to the rest of the island, and so by implication playing down Northern Ireland's links with Great Britain.

  • 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.) 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.

  • 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
    Irish Free State
    The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

    , which gained independence (as a Dominion) in 1922.

  • 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
    First Dáil
    The First Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919–1921. In 1919 candidates who had been elected in the Westminster elections of 1918 refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled as a unicameral, revolutionary parliament called "Dáil Éireann"...

     was the last legitimate government of Ireland and that all governments since have been foreign imposed usurpations of Irish national self-determination.

  • Fourth Green Field (An Cheathrú Gort Glas). From the song Four Green Fields
    Four Green Fields
    Four Green Fields is a 1967 folk song by Irish musician Tommy Makem, described in the New York Times as a "hallowed Irish leave-us-alone-with-our-beauty ballad." Of Makem's many compositions, it has become the most familiar, and is part of the common repertoire of Irish folk musicians.-Content and...

    by Tommy Makem
    Tommy Makem
    Thomas "Tommy" Makem was an internationally celebrated Irish folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller. He was best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He played the long-necked 5-string banjo, guitar, tin whistle, and bagpipes, and sang in a distinctive baritone...

     which describes Ireland as divided with one of the four green fields (the traditional provinces of Ireland
    Provinces of Ireland
    Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

    ) being In strangers hands, referring to the partition of Ireland.

Other

  • 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, 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
    Northern Ireland national football team
    The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. Before 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association...

    .

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.

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. 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. 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, 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
United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names
The United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names is a periodic international conference organised by the United Nations Statistical Commission, the central purpose of which is to facilitate the standardization of national geographical names...

 defines the UK as being made up of two countries (England and Scotland), one principality
Principality
A principality is a monarchical feudatory or sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or princess, or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the term prince....

 (Wales) and one province (Northern Ireland).

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. 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, 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.

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. 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.

"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.

Sport



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 of Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

, rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

, rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

 hockey
Field hockey
Field Hockey, or Hockey, is a team sport in which a team of players attempts to score goals by hitting, pushing or flicking a ball into an opposing team's goal using sticks...

, basketball, cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

 and hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

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

Association football (soccer)


The Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association
The Irish Football Association is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland, and was historically the governing body for Ireland...

 (IFA) is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland. The highest level of competition within Northern Ireland is the IFA Premiership
IFA Premiership
The IFA Premiership – formerly the Irish Premier League, and before that the Irish Football League–and still known in popular parlance simply as the Irish League, is the national football league in Northern Ireland, and was historically the league for the whole of Ireland. Clubs in the league are...

. There is also an all-island tournament, the Setanta Cup, which includes six IFA Premiership teams and six teams from the Republic's league. The best Northern Irish players tend to play for clubs in the English or Scottish leagues. Despite Northern Ireland's small population, its international team
Northern Ireland national football team
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. Before 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association...

 made it to the World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 quarter-finals in 1958 and 1982.

Cricket


The Ireland cricket team, which represents both the Republic and Northern Ireland, is an associate member of the International Cricket Council
International Cricket Council
The International Cricket Council is the international governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from England, Australia and South Africa, renamed the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1989.The...

. It participated in 2007 Cricket World Cup
2007 Cricket World Cup
The 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup was the ninth edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament that took place in the West Indies from 13 March to 28 April 2007, using the sport's One Day International format...

 and qualified for the Super 8s and did the same in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20
2009 ICC World Twenty20
The 2009 ICC World Twenty20 was an international Twenty20 cricket tournament which took place in England in June 2009. It was the second ICC World Twenty20 tournament, following the inaugural event in South Africa in September 2007...

. Ireland are current champions of ICC Intercontinental Cup
ICC Intercontinental Cup
The ICC Intercontinental Cup is a cricket tournament organised by the International Cricket Council as part of its cricket development programme...

. One of Ireland's regular international venues is Stormont
Stormont (cricket ground)
Stormont is a first-class cricket ground in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is situated in the grounds of the Stormont Estate, the seat of government in Northern Ireland, and is the home of Civil Service North of Ireland Cricket Club....

 in Belfast.

Gaelic games


Gaelic games include Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

, hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

, Gaelic handball
Gaelic handball
Gaelic handball is a sport similar to Basque pelota, racquetball, squash and American handball . It is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association...

 and rounders
Rounders
Rounders is a game played between two teams of either gender. The game originated in England where it was played in Tudor times. Rounders is a striking and fielding team game that involves hitting a small, hard, leather-cased ball with a round wooden, plastic or metal bat. The players score by...

. 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
Antrim GAA
The Antrim County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Antrim GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Antrim. The county board is also responsible for the Antrim inter-county teams...

, Armagh
Armagh GAA
The Armagh County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Armagh GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Armagh...

, Derry
Derry GAA
The Derry County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Derry GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland. It is responsible for Gaelic games in the GAA county of Derry, which covers virtually the same territory as the former administrative county of Londonderry...

, Down
Down GAA
The Down County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Down GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Down...

, Fermanagh
Fermanagh GAA
The Fermanagh County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Fermanagh GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland. The county board is also responsible for the Fermanagh inter-county teams-History:...

 and Tyrone
Tyrone GAA
The Tyrone County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Tyrone GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Tyrone. The county board is also responsible for the Tyrone inter-county teams....

. The Ulster GAA
Ulster GAA
The Ulster Council is a Provincial council of the Gaelic Athletic Association sports of hurling, Gaelic football, camogie, and handball in the province of Ulster. The headquarters of the Ulster GAA is based in Armagh City....

 is the branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 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 Football Championship
For information on this years competition, see Ulster Senior Football Championship 2011-2010 Draw:-2009 Draw:-2008 Draw:-Top winners:* All-Ireland winning years in bold.-Roll of honour:Notes:* 1907 No final result in records...

, Ulster Senior Hurling Championship
Ulster Senior Hurling Championship
The Ulster Senior Hurling Championship is the premier intercounty "knockout" competition in the game of hurling played in the province of Ulster. The series of games are organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association and are played during the summer months. The Ulster Hurling Final is played in July...

, All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the premier competition in Gaelic football, is a series of games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association and played during the summer and early autumn...

 and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship is an annual hurling competition organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association since 1887 for the top hurling teams in Ireland....

. Recent successes for Northern Ireland's teams include Armagh
Armagh GAA
The Armagh County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Armagh GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Armagh...

's 2002 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the premier competition in Gaelic football, is a series of games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association and played during the summer and early autumn...

 win and Tyrone
Tyrone GAA
The Tyrone County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association or Tyrone GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Tyrone. The county board is also responsible for the Tyrone inter-county teams....

's wins in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Golf


Perhaps Northern Ireland's most notable successes in professional sport have come in golf. Northern Ireland alone has contributed more major champions in the modern era than any other European country, with three in the space of just 14 months from the US Open
U.S. Open (golf)
The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour...

 in 2010 to the Open Championship in 2011.

Northern Ireland's golf courses include the Royal Belfast Golf Club (the earliest, formed in 1881), Royal Portrush Golf Club
Royal Portrush Golf Club
Royal Portrush Golf Club is a private golf club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is the only golf club outside of the UK Mainland which has hosted The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's major championships. The club has two links courses, the Dunluce Links and the Valley Links.The...

 (the only course outside Great Britain to have hosted The Open Championship
The Open Championship
The Open Championship, or simply The Open , is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the only "major" held outside the USA and is administered by The R&A, which is the governing body of golf outside the USA and Mexico...

), and Royal County Down Golf Club
Royal County Down Golf Club
Royal County Down Golf Club is a golf club in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland. Dating from 1889, it is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland...

 (Golf Digest
Golf Digest
Golf Digest is a monthly golf magazine published by Condé Nast Publications in the United States. It is a generalist golf publication covering recreational golf and men's and women's competitive golf. Condé Nast Publications also publishes the more specialized , and Golf World Business. The...

magazine's top-rated course outside the United States).

Notable golfers include Fred Daly
Fred Daly (golfer)
Frederick Daly was a Northern Irish professional golfer who was best known for winning The Open Championship of 1947 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.Daly was born in Portrush, County Antrim...

 (winner of The Open in 1947), Ryder Cup players Ronan Rafferty
Ronan Rafferty
Ronan P. Rafferty is an Northern Irish professional golfer, who formerly played on the European Tour.Rafferty was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. He won the Boys Amateur Championship aged fifteen and played in the Walker Cup aged seventeen...

 and David Feherty
David Feherty
David Feherty is a former professional golfer on the European Tour and PGA Tour. He now works as a writer and broadcaster with CBS Sports and Golf Channel.Feherty was born in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland...

, leading European Tour professionals David Jones
David Jones (golfer)
David Jones is a former European Tour golfer from Bangor, Northern Ireland.After his career on the circuit, he became a prominent course designer and golf coach, ....

 (now a prominent course designer) Michael Hoey (a winner on Tour in 2011) and Gareth Maybin
Gareth Maybin
Gareth Maybin is a Northern Irish professional golfer.Born in Belfast, Maybin turned professional in 2005 after completing a scholarship at the University of South Alabama. He remained in the United States and competed on the NGA Hooters Tour, where he finished fourth on the money list in his...

, as well as three recent major winners Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell MBE is a Northern Irish professional golfer.McDowell has won seven events on the European Tour, including the 2010 U.S. Open which was also his first win on the PGA Tour...

 (winner of the US Open
U.S. Open (golf)
The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour...

 in 2010, the first European since 1970), Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is a Northern Irish professional golfer from Holywood in County Down. He has represented Europe, Great Britain & Ireland, and Ireland as both an amateur and a professional. He had a successful amateur career, topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking for one week as a 17-year-old in 2007...

 (winner of the U.S. Open
U.S. Open (golf)
The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour...

 in 2011) and Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke
Darren Christopher Clarke is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who currently plays on the European Tour and has previously played on the PGA Tour. He has won 22 tournaments worldwide on a number of golf's main tours including the European Tour, the PGA Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the...

 (winner of The Open in 2011).

Northern Ireland has also contributed several players to the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup
Walker Cup
The Walker Cup is a golf trophy contested biennially in odd numbered years between teams comprising the leading amateur golfers of the United States and Great Britain and Ireland...

 team, including Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler who played on the victorious 2011 team in Scotland.

Rugby Union


Northern Ireland's six counties are among the nine governed by the Ulster branch
Ulster Rugby
Ulster Rugby, usually referred to simply as Ulster, is an Irish professional rugby union team based in Belfast, representing the Irish province of Ulster, that competes in the RaboDirect Pro12 and also competes in the Heineken Cup...

 of the all-island governing body, the Irish Rugby Football Union
Irish Rugby Football Union
The Irish Rugby Football Union is the body managing rugby union in Ireland. The IRFU has its head office at 10/12 Lansdowne Road and home ground at Aviva Stadium, where Irish rugby union international matches are played...

. Ulster is one of the four professional provincial teams in Ireland and competes in the Celtic League and European Cup
Heineken Cup
The Heineken Cup is one of two annual rugby union competitions organised by European Rugby Cup involving leading club, regional and provincial teams from the six International Rugby Board countries in Europe whose national teams compete in the Six Nations Championship: England, France, Ireland,...

. Ulster won the European Cup in 1999. In international competition, players from Northern Ireland represent the Ireland national rugby team
Ireland national rugby union team
The Ireland national rugby union team represents the island of Ireland in rugby union. The team competes annually in the Six Nations Championship and every four years in the Rugby World Cup, where they reached the quarter-final stage in all but two competitions The Ireland national rugby union...

, whose recent successes include four Triple Crown
Triple Crown (Rugby Union)
In rugby union, the Triple Crown is an honour contested annually by the four national teams of the British Isles who compete within the larger Six Nations Championship: England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. If any one team manages to win all their games against the other three they win the...

s between 2004 and 2009 and a Grand Slam
Grand Slam (Rugby Union)
In rugby union, a Grand Slam occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship manages to beat all the others during one year's competition...

 in 2009.

Rugby League


The Ireland national rugby league team
Ireland national rugby league team
The Ireland national rugby league team, known as the Wolfhounds, represent the island of Ireland in rugby league football. The team is organized by Rugby League Ireland and are accredited as an affiliate member of the Rugby League International Federation...

 represents both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland has participated in the Emerging Nations Tournament (1995), Super League World Nines (1996), World Cup (2000 and 2008), European Nations Cup (since 2003) and Victory Cup (2004). Ireland A compete annually in the Amateur Four Nations competition (since 2002) and the St Patrick's Day Challenge (since 1995).

Snooker


Northern Ireland has produced two world snooker champions; Alex Higgins
Alex Higgins
Alexander Gordon "Alex" Higgins , also known by his nickname of Hurricane Higgins, was a Northern Irish professional snooker player who was twice World Champion and twice runner-up. Higgins earned the nickname The Hurricane because of his speed of play...

 who won the title in 1972 and 1982, and Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor is a retired snooker player, and current BBC snooker commentator. Winner of two ranking events, he is best known for winning the 1985 World Championship, beating World number one Steve Davis on the final black in one of the sport's most memorable finals...

 who won in 1985. The highest ranked Northern Ireland professional on the world circuit presently is Mark Allen
Mark Allen (snooker player)
Mark Allen is a Northern Irish professional snooker player. He won the World Amateur Championship in 2004. The following year he turned professional and took only three seasons to reach the elite top 16...

 from Antrim. The sport is governed locally by the Northern Ireland Billiards & Snooker Association who run regular ranking tournaments and competitions.

Education




Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of primary school many children sit entrance examinations for grammar schools.

Integrated schools
Integrated Education
The Integrated education movement in Northern Ireland is an attempt to bring together children, parents and teachers from both Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions: the aim being to provide a balanced education, while allowing the opportunity to understand and respect all cultural and religious...

, which attempt to ensure a balance in enrolment between pupils of Protestant, Roman Catholic and other faiths (or none) are becoming increasingly popular, although Northern Ireland still has a primarily de facto religiously 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.

See:

The two main universities in Northern Ireland are The Queen's University of Belfast, and the University of Ulster
University of Ulster
The University of Ulster is a multi-campus, co-educational university located in Northern Ireland. It is the largest single university in Ireland, discounting the federal National University of Ireland...

.

Media and communications


The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 has a division called BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland is the main public service broadcaster in Northern Ireland.The organisation is one of the three national regions of the BBC, together with BBC Scotland and BBC Wales. Based at Broadcasting House, Belfast, it provides television, radio, online and interactive television content...

 with headquarters in Belfast. As well as broadcasting standard UK-wide programmes, BBC NI produces local content, including a news break-out called BBC Newsline
BBC Newsline
BBC Newsline is the BBC's regional television news service for Northern Ireland. The programme is broadcast on BBC One from BBC Northern Ireland's headquarters in Broadcasting House, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast....

. The ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 franchise in Northern Ireland is Ulster Television (UTV). The privately-operated Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 and Channel 5 also broadcast in Northern Ireland and access is also available to satellite and cable services. All Northern Ireland viewers must obtain a UK TV licence to watch live television transmissions.

RTÉ
RTE
RTÉ is the abbreviation for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcasting service of the Republic of Ireland.RTE may also refer to:* Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 25th Prime Minister of Turkey...

, the national broadcaster of the Republic of Ireland, is available over the air to some parts of Northern Ireland via reception overspill and via satellite or cable. After the digital switchover, RTÉ and the Irish-language channel, TG4
TG4
TG4 is a public service broadcaster for Irish language speakers. The channel has been on-air since 31 October 1996 in the Republic of Ireland and since April 2005 in Northern Ireland....

, will be available over the air from signals broadcast inside Northern Ireland.

As well as the standard UK-wide radio stations from the BBC, Northern Ireland is home to many local radio stations, such as Cool FM
Cool FM
97.4 Cool FM is a commercial radio station, based in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, owned and operated by Bauer Radio and part of the Big City Network. The station began broadcasting in 1990 when its parent station Downtown Radio ceased simulcasting and split its AM and FM frequencies into two...

, CityBeat
Belfast CityBeat
Belfast CityBeat is a two-time Arqiva 'Station Of The Year' and multi-Sony Award winning Northern Irish radio station. It broadcasts to Greater Belfast on 96.7 MHz FM and on DAB Digital Radio across all of Northern Ireland. From 5 April 2007, Citybeat became available on 102.5FM for North Belfast,...

, and Q102.9
Q102.9
Q102.9 "Northwest's Best Music" is a radio station based in Derry, County Londonderry. It broadcasts on FM 102.9 to the north west of Northern Ireland, Q102 also broadcasts via DAB throughout Northern Ireland via the Score NI multiplex. It is part of the Q Radio Network, which also owns a number...

. The BBC has two regional radio stations which broadcast in Northern Ireland, BBC Radio Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster is one of two Northern Irish BBC radio stations, the other being BBC Radio Foyle located in the city of Derry. BBC Radio Ulster is located at Broadcasting House in the Ormeau Avenue area of Belfast city centre...

 and BBC Radio Foyle
BBC Radio Foyle
BBC Radio Foyle is a BBC Northern Ireland local radio station, serving County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. It is named after the River Foyle which flows through the city where the station is based. The station broadcasts from BBC's Northland Road studios on 93.1 FM and 792 MW in Derry, County...

.

The Belfast Telegraph is the leading newspaper, and UK and Irish national newspapers are also available. There is a range of local newspapers such as the News Letter
The News Letter
The News Letter is one of Northern Ireland's main daily newspapers, published Monday to Saturday. It is the oldest English language general daily newspaper still in publication in the world, having first been printed in 1737....

and the Irish News
The Irish News
The Irish News is a compact-sized daily newspaper based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is perceived as being broadly Irish nationalist in outlook...

.

Northern Ireland uses the same telecommunications and postal services as the rest of the United Kingdom at standard domestic rates and there are no mobile roaming charges between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland who live close to the border with the Republic of Ireland may inadvertently switch over to the Irish mobile networks, causing international roaming fees to be applied. Northern Ireland can be called from the Republic of Ireland at trunk rates, as opposed to international rates, using the 048 prefix.

See also


  • Celtic languages
    Celtic languages
    The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

  • Celtic nations
    Celtic nations
    The Celtic nations are territories in North-West Europe in which that area's own Celtic languages and some cultural traits have survived.The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common traditional identity and culture and are identified with a traditional...

  • Celts
  • Common Travel Area
    Common Travel Area
    The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The area's internal borders are subject to minimal or non-existent border controls and can normally be crossed by Irish and British citizens with only...

  • Ethnic groups in Europe
  • The Ireland Funds
    The Ireland Funds
    The Ireland Funds are a global fundraising network for people of Irish ancestry and friends of Ireland, dedicated to raising funds to support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland...

  • National parks of Northern Ireland
    National parks of Northern Ireland
    There are, at present, no national parks in Northern Ireland and moves to establish a national park in the Mourne Mountains have proved to be controversial. If established, it would stretch from Carlingford Lough to Newcastle and Slieve Croob, creating a tourism boom and up to 2,000 jobs...

  • Northern Ireland national football team
    Northern Ireland national football team
    The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. Before 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association...

  • Republic of Ireland – United Kingdom border


Lists

Further reading

  • Jonathan Bardon
    Jonathan Bardon
    Jonathan Bardon , OBE, is an Irish historian and author.-Early life:Bardon was born in Dublin in 1941 and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 1963. Shortly thereafter, in 1964, he moved to Belfast to begin his teaching career at Orangefield Boys Secondary School...

    , A History of Ulster (Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1992), ISBN 0-85640-476-4
  • Brian E. Barton, The Government of Northern Ireland, 1920–1923 (Athol Books, 1980)
  • Paul Bew
    Paul Bew
    Paul Anthony Elliott Bew, Baron Bew of Donegore is a Northern Irish historian. He has worked at Queen's University Belfast since 1979, and is currently Professor of Irish Politics, a position he has held since 1991.-Academic career:...

    , Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson The State in Northern Ireland, 1921–72: Political Forces and Social Classes, Manchester (Manchester University Press, 1979)
  • Robert Kee
    Robert Kee
    Robert Kee CBE is a British broadcaster, journalist and writer, known for his historical works on World War II and Ireland....

    , The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism (Penguin, 1972–2000), ISBN 0-14-029165-2
  • Osborne Morton, 1994, Marine Algae of Northern Ireland. Ulster Museum, Belfast. ISBN 0-900761-28-8
  • Henry Patterson, "Ireland Since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict" (Penguin, 2006), ISBN 978-1-84488-104-8
  • Hackney, P. (Ed) 1992, Stewart's and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland Third edition. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast, ISBN 0 85389 446 9(HB)
  • Betts, N.L. in Hackney, P. 1992, Stewart & Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland Third Edition, Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast, ISBN 0 85389 446 9 (HB)

External links


  • Northern Ireland Executive (Northern Ireland devolved
    Devolution
    Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

     government)
  • Northern Ireland Office (UK central government)
  • Discover Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Tourist Board
    Northern Ireland Tourist Board
    The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is a non-departmental public body of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment. Its primary objective is to promote Northern Ireland as a tourist destination....

    )