Below you’ll find a scheme of work to teach the history of conflict in Northern Ireland. The history is told as two competing narratives: Protestant/unionist and Catholic/nationalist. It’s four weeks but you can choose to teach fewer — each week is focused on one enquiry question and stands alone.
If you scroll down, you find that each week has a supporting dual narrative video to help you prepare the class, pdf packs with 20 sources for students to explore digitally or for you to print, a question which can be debated at the end of the week, and a PowerPoint lesson plan.
|1||Have the actions of the British Government been the main cause of conflict?||Complete overview of events from the Plantations to the modern day.||Analysis of competing timelines Source evaluation Argumentation|
|2||Is the British Government responsible for the impact of the Great Famine?||The Famine: causes, events and consequences||Causation Consequences Source evaluation Argumentation|
|3||Should the British Government be praised or blamed for the partition of Ireland?||Home Rule Crisis: Nationalism and Unionism WWI Partition Establishment of the Northern Irish government||Causation Consequences Source evaluation Argumentation|
|4||Who is responsible for the slow progress of the Peace Process?||The Troubles Peace Process Good Friday Agreement Electoral politics Northern Ireland Assembly Brexit||Causation Consequences Source evaluation Argumentation|
This video explains the fundamental causes of the conflict and examines the history of Northern Ireland as part of the longer history of Anglo-Irish relations. It introduces the idea that viewing of history from both a Catholic/Irish/nationalistic perspective, and a Protestant/British/unionist perspective is essential to understanding the cause of conflict and its longevity.
The Great Famine of 1845-1851 killed over a million Irish people in all parts of Ireland, but it impacted the Catholic majority regions worst of all. For Catholic nationalists this event, known in Irish as Gorta Mor, came to symbolise everything bad about British rule and fuelled the struggle for independence. The British government viewed the potato blight as an act of God and the famine that followed the result of overpopulation and over-dependence on one crop, something they could do little to remedy.
The partition of Ireland took place in 1922 and divided the island into two. A new Protestant majority state which remained part of the United Kingdom was made up of six northern counties. The rest of Ireland became a new independent Catholic majority state. Britain claimed partition was the only solution to prevent civil war and protect the rights of Protestants. The majority in Ireland disagreed and have been pushing for the reunification of Ireland for the last century.
The Good Friday Agreement in 1997 largely brough an end to ‘The Troubles’ as the inter-communal violence in Northern Ireland had been dubbed. However, a quarter of century later the progress of the peace process now seems painfully slow. Protestant unionists blame Catholic nationalists for being too slow to give up the threat of a return to terrorism, and the Catholic nationalists blame the Protestant unionists for being unwilling to share power.