In 1921 the situation was temporarily solved by a treaty between Britain and

In 1921 the situation was temporarily solved by a

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Britain and Ireland. Under the terms of the treaty, Ireland would be granted independence while the northern section around Ulster would remain under British protection until it could peacefully be integrated into Ireland. Southern Ireland became the free state—the Republic of Ireland. The majority of people in Ireland accepted the treaty. Michael Collins also accepted the treaty, but the IRA did not.When the treaty between Ireland and Britain was ratified in 1921, a civil war broke out in the newly formed Republic. Michael Collins led the Irish Army, while his former colleague Eamon De Valera took the helm of the IRA. The IRA fought Irish government forces, claiming that Irish independence had to extend to all Irish people. They rejected British control of the North. De Valera campaigned against his former colleagues and eventually orchestrated the murder of Michael Collins.For their part, the British wanted nothing to do with the civil war in the southern areas. They tightened their hold on Northern Ireland and bolstered its strength with a new police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The northern unionists were delighted when the British established a semiautonomous government in Northern Ireland and gave it special powers to combat the IRA. The unionists used this power to gain control of Northern Ireland and lock themselves into the British orbit. Ireland became a divided country.TRENDS IN THE IRA: 1930–1985In 1927, De Valera was elected as Prime Minister. Although he passed several anti-Britishmeasures, he was soon at odds with the IRA. Two important trends emerged. J. Bowyer Bell(1974) records the first by pointing to the split in IRA ranks. By the 1930s, some members of theIRA wanted to follow the lead of their political party, Sinn Fein. They felt the IRA should expressitself through peaceful political idealism. They believed they should begin working for a unitedsocialist Ireland in the spirit of James Connolly.Another group of IRA members rejected this philosophy. They believed the purpose of theIRA was to fight for republicanism. They would never be at peace with the British or the unionists until the North was united with the South. They vowed to carry on the fight. They broke with the De Valera government and formed a provisional wing of the IRA in the 1930s. The Provisional IRAvowed to keep up the fight, and De Valera turned on them. The Provisional IRA was silenced for anumber of years. They launched an ineffective terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland from 1956 to1962, and they fell out of favor with Irish republicans. Just when it seemed the Provisional IRA was defunct, a Catholic civil rights campaign engulfed Northern Ireland in 1969. The failure of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland can be directly linked to modern Irish terrorism and the rebirth of the IRA.

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