Carolyn Gallaher

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Riot activity in West Belfast on April 7. (Peter Morrison/AP)

Young people in Northern Ireland have been rioting every night for almost two weeks. Violence that started in low-income Protestant areas in Belfast spilled over to other parts of Northern Ireland, bringing in Catholic youths, as well. Protesters set a bus and cars on fire, and hurled petrol bombs, bottles, bricks and roof tiles at each other over some of Belfast’s peace walls, which separate the two communities.

Targeted by both sides, nearly 90 police officers have been injured in the violence. This type of street violence was common during the Troubles, Northern Ireland’s 30-year conflict. But a peace agreement was signed 23 years ago — so why are people rioting again?…  Seguir leyendo »

A 'no hard border' poster is pictured on the Irish border in Newry in Northern Ireland. (Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Last Wednesday, an American group that supports Sinn Fein, the Northern Ireland political party associated with the Irish Republican Army, placed half-page ads in The Washington Post, the New York Times, and other newspapers, calling for a referendum on Irish unification.

Such a referendum is not likely very soon. Since the 1920s, the island of Ireland has been divided between what is now the independent Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom or should unify with the Republic was the principal source of violent conflict from the 1960s to the 1990s, generally known as “The Troubles”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A British soldier drags a Catholic protester during the “Bloody Sunday” killings on Jan. 30, 1972, when British paratroopers shot dead 13 Catholic civil rights marchers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (Thopson/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. police officers kill a remarkable number of their fellow citizens every year, particularly African Americans and other minorities — many with their hands in the air, their backs turned or their bodies on the ground. Holding those officers accountable has been difficult because of rank-and-file codes of silence, powerful police unions and lax oversight by officials in charge of policing.

These problems are exacerbated by the challenge of instituting reforms across more than 18,000 distinct police forces. Perhaps not surprisingly, many people believe real reform is all but impossible.

In Northern Ireland, 20 years ago, many people said the same thing about their policing system.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Jan. 10, three years after Northern Ireland’s main political parties suspended its power-sharing assembly and government, the parties agreed to return to governing. What prompted this dramatic shift?

The assembly and government were fundamental elements of the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. However, they collapsed in 2017 amid arguments between the province’s two largest parties: the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose members are predominately Protestant and want Northern Ireland to remain part of the U.K.; and Sinn Fein, whose members are predominately Catholic and want Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic of Ireland. What kicked off the dispute was the Democratic Unionist first minister’s involvement in a scandal related to mismanagement of public funds.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard in West Belfast, shown Dec. 8, was erected by the Sinn Fein party and calls for a special status for Northern Ireland with respect to Brexit and no “hard border” in Ireland. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty years ago, the Good Friday Agreement put an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, a 30-year conflict that pit nationalists/republicans (mostly Catholic) fighting for a united Ireland against unionists/loyalists (mostly Protestant) fighting to stay in the United Kingdom. The agreement included numerous signatories: paramilitaries, all but one of the province’s major political parties, and the governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Many parts of the agreement rested on the fact that both the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland belonged to the European Union and, thus, shared a common political and economic framework. The U.K.’s decision to leave the E.U.…  Seguir leyendo »