English version

Northern Ireland

From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary EnglishNorthern IrelandˌNorthern ˈIreland  the northern part of the island of Ireland, which is politically part of the United Kingdom. It is also known as Ulster, and it is sometimes called the Province. Its capital city is Belfast, and its main industries are farming and engineering, especially ship and aircraft building. The population of Northern Ireland is divided mainly between the Protestants (over 50%) and the Roman Catholics (almost 40%). In general, the Protestants want Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, and they are called Unionists or Loyalists, and the Catholics want Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland, and are called Republicans or Nationalists. The disagreements between these groups have led to a lot of violence. paramilitary groups (=unofficial illegal armies) who claim to represent each side, especially the Republican IRA and the Loyalist UDA, have used violence against each other and against ordinary people for many years, and since the late 1960s British soldiers have been based in Northern Ireland to control the situation. There have been many unsuccessful attempts to find a peaceful solution to these political problems. Since 1998 talks have been taking place between the British government and all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, including those that represent paramilitary groups. The British government established a new assembly (=parliament) for Northern Ireland in 1998 as a result of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement), but the Assembly has been suspended several times because the different political groups keep disagreeing about the process of decommissioning weapons (=getting rid of them). In 2007 a power-sharing government was formed, made up of both Protestant and Catholic parties. see also Sinn Féin, Stormont, IRA
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