Suggested Solutions

Q1. “The Irish conflict is mainly caused by a lack of social interaction”. How far do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer. [12m]

FactorExplanation Is this the most important cause?

1. Divided Loyalties

  • The difference in political beliefs between the Protestants and Catholics also contributed to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
  • The Protestants see themselves as British and want Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK. They are afraid that a union with the Republic of Ireland would mean that the Catholic government would be intolerant of their Protestant beliefs.
  • The Catholics see themselves as Irish and want a union with the Republic of Ireland. The Catholics also resent the history of English conquest where they were killed and treated badly by the Protestants.
  • Loyalty to different countries makes the Protestants and the Catholics intolerant of each other, causing tension which would later result in conflict between the two sides. 
  • This difference also contributes to a lack of identity which further prevents understanding and co-operation between the Catholics and Protestants, leading to more tension and conflict.
  • Causes conflict because both sides are loyal to different countries
  • This is a direct cause of the conflict.
2. Lack of Voting Rights 
  • ž A lack of voting rights contributed to the conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics. 
  • Before 1969, only those who owned houses and businesses were entitled to vote in the local government elections. 
  • Each household was given 2 votes while companies were given more votes depending on the number of workers they had. As the Protestants were richer, they had many companies and therefore got more votes. Voting districts were also drawn up to include a larger proportion of Protestants
  • Poorer Catholics who did not own companies got less votes, which resulted in them being unable to obtain any say in the government or gain political power, making them resentful of the Protestants and their ability to gain advantage through voting rights. 
  • Secondly, by re-drawing the voting districts, Protestants could ensure that the Catholics were unable to gain a power base, further marginalising them. The Catholics were angry with this, causing tension which later led to conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics.
  • Causes conflict because Catholics lack fair voting rights.
  • Since 1969, this issue has been resolved.
3. Lack of Opportunities for Social Interaction
  •  Another cause of conflict was the lack of opportunities for social interaction between Catholics and Protestants. 
  • One area was in the education system. Protestant children attended fully-funded public schools where they were taught British history, played British sports and were loyal to Britain. 
  • On the other hand, Catholic children attended partially-funded private schools where they were taught Irish history, played Irish sports and regarded Britain as a foreign country.
  • Only a small group of children attended integrated schools where both groups interacted with each other. 
  • In addition, the Catholics and Protestants have always lived in separate residential areas which reduces the opportunity to socially interact.
  • Due to a lack of interaction, the Protestants and the Catholics are unable to resolve their differences. Attending different schools and learning different things and not interacting together makes generations of Protestant and Catholic children grow up distrusting and being hostile to each other, causing tension and conflict.
  • Different education systems and residential areas prevent social interaction
  • This prevents any chance of resolving any issues or causes of conflict

Q2. Explain the Causes of Conflict in Northern Ireland.




Divided loyalties  

  • The Protestants regard themselves as British and want to remain part of U.K.(which is dominated by the Protestants)
  • They celebrate the Battle of Boyne where the Protestant King of England defeated the Catholic ex-King of England.
  • The Catholics want to be part of the Republic of Ireland. 
  • They remember the long struggle for Home Rule by the Irish against the British.
  • This meant that the two communities were proud of their own achievement and were not willing to compromise with the other party. 
  • This brought about distrust and minsunderstanding, leading to conflict.

Education System

  • Protestant children attended government schools while Catholic children attended private schools. 
  • Protestant children are taught British history, play British sports such as rugby, hockey and are loyal to Britain 
  • Catholic children learn Irish history and take up Irish sports like hurling, and are loyal to Ireland.
  • There are privately run mixed schools but these are not popular
  • As they attended different schools, children from these two communities did not get to interact. 
  • This meant that they grew up with distrust and hatred for one another. 
  • This made them hostile with one another, leading to conflict.

Employment Opportunities 

  • The Catholics, although academically qualified, were not able to get a job as easily as the Protestants. 
  • E.g. there were relatively fewer Catholics in the senior positions in the public and private sectors. 
  • E.g. the number of civil servants was not proportionate to the numbers in the country.
  • Catholics felt that they were discriminated against. This made them believe that the government is biased and only cares about the Protestants. 
  • They thus went against the government, leading to the conflict.


  • City councils providing houses to the people consisted largely of Protestants. 
  • Priority was given to Protestants in the provision of houses. 
  • E.g. In 1968, 71% of the local houses in Dungannon were given to Protestents although 53% of the people there were Catholics.
  • The Catholics were frustrated as they had to wait for a longer period of time to get their houses. 
  • They thought that the government was biased and hated the government, leading to conflict.

 Voting Rights

  • Each household was entitled to 2 votes each whereas the companies were entitled to more votes depending on their size. 
  • Since many big companies were owned by the Protestants they ended up having more votes than the Catholics.
  • Since more Protestants got to vote, the Catholics were worried that more Protestants would come to power. 
  • The Catholics thought that the government was biased, leading to conflict.

Q3. Explain the Consequences of Conflict in Northern Ireland

Innocent people affected
  • Many of the Catholics and Protestants were not directly involved in the conflict.
  • They just wanted to carry on with their life with much problem and difficulties.

  • However, with the conflict, most of the people affected were innocent people.
  • Eg many people killed from 1969 to 1977 due to the violences were not directly involved.
People grew up with prejudice
  • The Protestants and Catholics received different education, each praising their own people and condemning the deeds of the other.
  • The violence in the country also meant that the 2 groups of people believed that their own people were right and the other party was responsible for the conflict. 
  • This led to growth of hatred and prejudice between the 2 groups of people.
  • With increased hostility, violence continued to rise.
Economic slowdown
  • Prior to the conflict, many overseas companies invested in Northern Ireland.
  • Tourists come to the country as the country was attractive and peaceful.
  • Both foreign investment and tourism declined as people were afraid to come to Northern Ireland.
  • This reduced revenue for the country, leading to economic slowdown. 
Political reform
  • Prior to the conflict, Catholics suffered from discrimination in many areas.
  • Eg voting districts were drawn to include large numbers of Protestants, so Protestants had more votes than the Catholics. 
  • Due to the civil rights marches and pressure from the British government, there was some reform.
  • Eg unfair voting system was abolished.