It is one of history's ironies. The Northern Ireland province of Ulster, once known as the last significant bastion of Ireland's national struggle against English occupation and rule, is now the bastion of Protestant Unionism, with its overarching objective of maintaining Northern Ireland as an integral and valued part of the United Kingdom…
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There are many books and other material that have discussed these topics at length and with great competence.
The unionist point of view has been and still is the preservation of the status quo, that is, Northern Ireland within the political framework of the United Kingdom. The status quo not only preserves their built-in advantage as the majority in Northern Ireland, it also protects them from becoming the minority in a united Ireland. The status quo, they believe, is their only guarantee that they can keep exercising their right to their own identity, traditions, religion and culture.
Loyalists are all these and more. Where nationalist paramilitaries are willing to use force to change the status quo, loyalist paramilitaries are willing to use force to preserve the status quo. This is their objective and rationale in the use of both force and the threat of force. Loyalist paramilitaries (such as the UDA, UVF and LVF) who usually choose civilian targets, use terror against the Catholic community to prevent it from attempting to change the status quo. ...
Their choice is also influenced by the ease with which they can access their targets, and by their own extreme sectarianism. Nationalist paramilitaries on the other hand tend to pick their targets from the ranks of the police and military, in keeping with their stance against the state and for protection of the people against state abuse. 2
Paramilitary groups, both loyalist and republican seemed quite successful in launching their military operations, if we are to judge by the number of dead and injured. Almost 3,600 died in Northern Ireland from 1969 to December 1997, and out of that number 87% were victims of paramilitary groups. If the same proportion were to be applied to a country like Britain, it would have around 170,000 casualties or half a million in a country like the US.3
Loyal and Armed 3
"Between 1968 and 1998, loyalist paramilitaries killed an estimated 864 civilians (most of them Catholic), compared with an estimated 728 civilians (most of them
Protestant) killed by the IRA. Experts say loyalist groups have often acted out of religious hatred, while the IRA has more often targeted British security officers-
killing more than 1,000 of them-in an effort to further its political goal of ejecting the British from Northern Ireland." 4
But did these acts of violence and terror help unionist paramilitaries in achieving their objective of maintaining a Northern Ireland status quo
The Anglo-Irish Agreement
The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by Northern Ireland's House of Representatives and Senate in 1999. It provides for the implementation of human rights laws in Northern Ireland, including recognition of equal status and rights for all minorities,
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