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History of the United States
Northern Ireland
History of Central America
Decade - 1960s
Civil Rights Movement

Why did the civil rights movement happen in northern Ireland?


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October 31, 2009 2:02PM


The Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland, inspired by events in the USA and France, was founded because many indigenous Irish people (including protestant and catholic) were being discriminated against with a form of apartheid that was supported and maintained by the British and Unionists in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Irish Civil Rights Association (NICRA) demands were:

  • one man, one vote which meant extension of the local government franchise from ratepayers to all those over 21
  • an end to gerrymandering which meant Unionists were elected even in districts with Catholic majorities
  • an end to discrimination in housing
  • an end to discrimination in jobs
  • the disbandment of the B-Specials, a Protestant special constabulary, which many viewed as sectarian.
The "one man, one vote" policy meant that Unionists could have numerous votes, while some indigenous Irish people had one or none at all. Shocking, I know, but, that was the norm under British rule in Northern Ireland and helped maintain Unionist political control over the region.

Following a peaceful civil rights march in 1972, which included protestants and catholics, the British army shot dead innocent men, women and children taking part and the civil rights movement turned more militant, bolstering support and membership for the Provisional IRA who were also fighting for civil rights and an end to British involvement on the Island of Ireland.