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The possible unification of Ireland with the victory of Sinn Féin



Ireland was an independent country with its own Celtic social and political system until 1601, when the British Crown gained territorial control of the island. Quickly, titles were taken out from the Catholic majority and given instead to a Protestant minority arriving from Great Britain. This situation of inequality became acute during the famine of 1845 when more than 1 million Irish Catholics died from starvation and an equal number of them migrated to the United States in the years to come to escape the misery that prevailed in the island. Encouraged by the nationalist and socialist ideas spreading throughout Europe during late 19th century, several Irish political movements struggling for independence emerged. Among them, Sinn Féin, which means 'We by Our Side' in Gaelic, and its activism initially consisted of comitting acts of disobedience such as not paying taxes and having a justice system parallel to the British one.The repression of the Crown was increasing, and it was not until the end of First World War that Ireland became a sovereign country following an armed struggle against Great Britain that began in 1921 and ended in 1922. The peace treaty recognized the autonomy of the entire island except for six counties located in the northeast part. The largely Catholic and Republican southern part would be called the Irish Free State, while the other to the north, mostly Protestant and monarchist, as Northern Ireland. After the partition, a section of Sinn Féin and the population in the south opposed this treaty that according to them 'betrayed the republican and nationalist ideals of uniting the entire island under the same flag', while another side supported the treaty, since 'it gave the freedom to achieve freedom in the future' without risking more lives'. The armed wing of Sinn Féin, the IRA (Irish Republican Army) that fought during the independence was also divided on this issue and thus a civil war broke out within southern Ireland. This conflict claimed around 10 thousand casualties and ended in 1923 with the victory of the pro -treaty side, which had extensive military support from the United Kingdom during the war. The new Irish State was democratic regarding political representation, but the Catholic Church controlled most of the social norms by imposing the prohibition of divorce, contraceptive methods, the publication of certain films and books, and was the owner of almost every hospital in the country. During World War II, Ireland remained officially neutral and in 1949 it gained finally full independence from the British Empire. In the late 1960s, Sinn Féin became relevant again when the Catholic minority living in Northern Ireland revolted, taking Martin Luther King's Civil Rights movement in the United States as an example, against the laws imposed by the British Crown that discriminated them at work, in politics and regarding governmental social benefits. These protests led to a long sectarian war, in which the IRA and Sinn Féin were the core of the Catholic side fighting against the British Protestants, that resulted in 4 thousand deaths, terrorist attacks and regional instability until it ended in 1998 with what is known as the Good Friday Agreement. After the signing of peace, Ireland was consolidated as one of the most prosperous countries in all of Europe with high rates of economic growth and poverty reduction. This economic boom and political stability was abruptly interrupted by the Great Global Recession of 2008 and later on by Brexit. Both events gave increased electoral support to Sinn Féin which now describe itself as 'a left wing party for workers, nationalist-republican seeking all-Ireland unification while rejecting IRA's violence, and essentially pro-European'. Sinn Féin is the only political party that has an official activity on both sides of the border. After the elections of this week, it became, for the first time in Northern Ireland's 101-year history, the largest political group led by its leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill, to hold seats in the local Assembly, the Stormont. Although Nationalist and Unionist parties won almost the same number of seats

and swing moderate parties had a faire share of the vote, it is Sinn Féin that has the right to set a Prime Minister with strong executive powers after winning the election. This means that if the predictions about the elections that the Republic of Ireland will celebrate in 2024 are correct, Sinn Féin will become the ruling party in both countries and could carry out its plans to reunify the whole island in the short term by using a referendum, and thus further discrediting the legacy of the already highly questioned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.


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