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Northern Ireland ( , Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is one of the four countries of the United Kingdommarker. Situated in the north-east of the island of Irelandmarker, it shares a border with the Republic of Irelandmarker to the south and west. At the time of the 2001 UK Census, its population was 1,685,000, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the population of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland consists of six of the traditional nine counties of the historic Irish province of Ulster. It was created as a distinct division of the United Kingdom on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, though its constitutional roots lie in the 1800 Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. For over 50 years it had its own devolved government and parliament. These institutions were suspended in 1972 and abolished in 1973. Repeated attempts to restore self-government finally resulted in the establishment of the present-day Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly operates on consociational democracy principles requiring cross-community support.

Northern Ireland was for many years the site of a violent and bitter ethno-political conflict—The Troubles—between those claiming to represent nationalists, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and those claiming to represent unionists, who are predominantly Protestant. Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, while nationalists wish it to be politically united with the rest of Ireland. Since the signing of the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns.

Due to its unique history, the issue of the symbolism, name and description of Northern Ireland is complex, and similarly the issue of citizenship and identity. In general, Unionists consider themselves British and Nationalists see themselves as Irish, though these identities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.


For events before 1922 see Ulster or History of Ireland.

area that is now Northern Ireland has had a diverse history. From serving as the bedrock of Irish resistance in the era of the plantation of Queen Elizabeth and James I in other parts of Ireland, it became the subject of major planting of Scottishmarker and Englishmarker settlers after the Flight of the Earls in 1607 (when the Gaelic aristocracy fled to Catholic Europe).

The all-island Kingdom of Ireland (1541—1801) merged into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker in 1801 under the terms of the Act of Union, under which the kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britainmarker merged under a government and parliament based in Londonmarker. In the early 20th century, Unionists led by Sir Edward Carson opposed the introduction of Home Rule in Ireland. Unionists were in a minority on the island of Ireland as a whole, but were a majority in the northern province of Ulster, a very large majority in the counties of Antrim and Down, small majorities in the counties of Armagh and Londonderry, with substantial numbers also concentrated in the nationalist-majority counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone. These six counties, containing an overall unionist majority, would later form Northern Ireland.

The clash between the House of Commonsmarker and House of Lordsmarker over the controversial budget of Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd-George produced the Parliament Act of 1911, which enabled the veto of the Lords to be overturned. Given that the Lords had been the unionists' main guarantee that a home rule act would not be enacted, because of the majority of pro-unionist peers in the House, the Parliament Act made Home Rule a more likely prospect. Opponents to Home Rule, from Conservative Party leaders like Andrew Bonar Law to militant unionists in Ireland, threatened the use of violence, producing the Larne Gun Running incident in 1914, when they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition from Imperial Germanymarker for the Ulster Volunteers. The prospect of civil war in Ireland loomed.

In 1914, the Third Home Rule Act, which contained provision for a temporary partition, received the Royal Assent. Its implementation was suspended for the duration of the intervening First World War, which was expected to last only a few weeks, but, in fact, lasted four years.

By the end of the war, the Act was seen as dead in the water, with public opinion in the majority nationalist community having moved from a demand for home rule to independence. David Lloyd George in 1919 proposed a new bill which would divide Ireland into two Home Rule areas, twenty-six counties being ruled from Dublinmarker, six being ruled from Belfastmarker, with a shared Lord Lieutenant of Ireland appointing both executives and a Council of Ireland, which Lloyd George believed would evolve into an all-Ireland parliament.

The island of Ireland was partitioned in 1921 under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Six of the nine Ulster counties in the north-east formed Northern Ireland and the remaining three counties (including County Donegalmarker, despite it having a large Protestant minority as well as it being the most northern county in all of Ireland) joined those of Leinster, Munster and Connacht to form Southern Ireland. Whilst Southern Ireland had only a brief existence between 1921 and 1922, a period dominated by the Anglo-Irish War and its aftermath, Northern Ireland was to continue on.

Northern Ireland provisionally became an autonomous part of the Irish Free State on 6 December 1922. However, as expected, the Parliament of Northern Ireland chose, under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, to opt out of the Irish Free State the following day. Shortly after Northern Ireland had exercised its opt out of the Irish Free State, a Boundary Commission was established to decide on the territorial boundaries between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Though leaders in Dublin expected a substantial reduction in the territory of Northern Ireland (with nationalist border areas moving to the Free State), the Boundary Commission decided against this; in fact the unpublished report had recommended that land should be ceded from Southern Ireland to Northern Ireland. To prevent argument, this report was suppressed, and the initial 6-county border was approved by the Dáil in Dublin on 10 December 1925 by a vote of 71 to 20.

In June 1940, to encourage the Irish state to join with the Allies, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill indicated to the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera that the United Kingdom would push for Irish unity, but believing that Churchill could not deliver, de Valera declined the offer. (The British did not inform the Northern Ireland government that they had made the offer to the Dublin government, and De Valera's rejection was not publicised until 1970).

The Ireland Act of 1949 gave the first legal guarantee to the Parliament and Government that Northern Ireland would not cease to be part of the United Kingdommarker without consent of the majority of its citizens.

The Troubles, starting in the late 1960s, consisted of about thirty years of recurring acts of intense violence between elements of Northern Ireland's nationalist community (principally Roman Catholic) and unionist community (principally Protestant) during which 3,254 people were killed. The conflict was caused by the disputed status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdommarker and the discrimination against the nationalist minority by the dominant unionist majority. The violence was characterised by the armed campaigns of paramilitary groups, including the Provisional IRA campaign of 1969-1997 which was aimed at the end of British rule in Northern Ireland and the creation of a new "all-Ireland", "thirty-two county" Irish Republic, and the Ulster Volunteer Force, formed in 1966 in response to the perceived erosion of both the British character and unionist domination of Northern Ireland. The state security forces — the British Army and the police (the Royal Ulster Constabulary) - were also involved in the violence. The British government's point of view is that its forces were neutral in the conflict, trying to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland and the right of the people of Northern Ireland to democratic self-determination. Irish republicans, however, regarded the state forces as "combatants" in the conflict, alleging collusion between the state forces and the loyalist paramilitaries as proof of this. The "Ballast" investigation by the Police Ombudsman has confirmed that British forces, and in particular the RUC, did collude with loyalist paramilitaries, were involved in murder, and did obstruct the course of justice when such claims had previously been investigated, although the extent to which such collusion occurred is still hotly disputed. See also the section below on Collusion by Security Forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

As a consequence of the worsening security situation, autonomous regional government for Northern Ireland was suspended in 1972. Alongside the violence, there was a political deadlock between the major political parties in Northern Ireland, including those who condemned violence, over the future status of Northern Ireland and the form of government there should be within Northern Ireland. A plebiscite within Northern Ireland on whether it should remain in the United Kingdom, or form part of a united Ireland, was held in 1973. The vote went heavily in favour (98.9%) of maintaining the status quo with approximately 57.5% of the total electorate voting in support, but only 1% of Catholics voted following a boycott organised by the SDLP.

Recent history

The Troubles were brought to an uneasy end by a peace process which included the declaration of ceasefires by most paramilitary organisations and the complete decommissioning of their weapons, the reform of the police, and the corresponding withdrawal of army troops from the streets and from sensitive border areas such as South Armagh and Fermanagh, as agreed by the signatories to the Belfast Agreement (commonly known as the "Good Friday Agreement"). This reiterated the long-held British position, which had never before been fully acknowledged by successive Irish governments, that Northern Ireland will remain within the United Kingdom until a majority votes otherwise. Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitution of the Irish state, was amended in 1999 to remove a claim of the "Irish nation" to sovereignty over the whole of Ireland (in Article 2), a claim qualified by an acknowledgement that Ireland could only exercise legal control over the territory formerly known as the Irish Free State. The new Articles 2 and 3, added to the Constitution to replace the earlier articles, implicitly acknowledge that the status of Northern Ireland, and its relationships within the rest of the United Kingdom and with Ireland, would only be changed with the agreement of a majority of voters in both jurisdictions (Ireland voting separately). This aspect was also central to the Belfast Agreement which was signed in 1998 and ratified by referenda held simultaneously in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. At the same time, the British Government recognised for the first time, as part of the prospective, the so-called "Irish dimension": the principle that the people of the island of Irelandmarker as a whole have the right, without any outside interference, to solve the issues between North and South by mutual consent. The latter statement was key to winning support for the agreement from nationalists and republicans. It also established a devolved power-sharing government within Northern Ireland where the government must consist of both unionist and nationalist parties.

These institutions were suspended by the British Government in 2002 after Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) allegations of spying by people working for Sinn Féin at the Assembly (Stormontgate). The resulting case against the accused Sinn Féin member collapsed.

On 28 July 2005, the Provisional IRA declared an end to its campaign and has since decommissioned what is thought to be all of its arsenal. This final act of decommissioning was performed in accordance with the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and under the watch of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and two external church witnesses. Many unionists, however, remain sceptical. This IRA decommissioning is in contrast to Loyalist paramilitaries who have so far refused to decommission many weapons. It is not thought that this will have a major effect on further political progress as political parties linked to Loyalist paramilitaries do not attract significant support and will not be in a position to form part of a government in the near future. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, with their (real and perceived) links to militant republicanism, are the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland.

Politicians elected to the Assembly at the 2003 Assembly Election were called together on 15 May 2006 under the Northern Ireland Act 2006 for the purpose of electing a First Minister of Northern Ireland and a deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and choosing the members of an Executive (before 25 November 2006) as a preliminary step to the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Following the election held on 7 March 2007, devolved government returned to Northern Ireland on 8 May 2007 with DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin deputy leader Martin McGuinness taking office as First Minister and Deputy First Minister, respectively. The current First Minister is Peter Robinson, having taken over as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Government and politics

Northern Ireland has devolved government within the United Kingdom. There is a Northern Ireland Executive together with the 108 member Northern Ireland Assembly to deal with devolved matters with the UK Government and UK Parliament responsible for reserved matters. Elections to the Assembly are by single transferable vote with 6 representatives elected for each of the 18 Westminster constituencies. It is also an electoral region of the European Union.

Northern Ireland elects 18 Members of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons; only 13 take their seats, however, as the 5 Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take the oath to serve the Queen that is required of all MPs. The Northern Ireland Office represents the UK government in Northern Ireland on reserved matters and represents Northern Irish interests within the UK government. The Northern Ireland office is led by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland is a distinct legal jurisdiction, separate from England, Wales and Scotland.

Communities in Northern Ireland - 1991 census.

The main political divide in Northern Ireland is between Unionists or Loyalists who wish to see Northern Ireland continue as part of the United Kingdom and Nationalist or Republicans who wish to see Northern Ireland join the rest of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom. These two opposing views are linked to deeper cultural divisions. Unionists are overwhelmingly Protestant, descendants of mainly Scottishmarker, Englishmarker, Welshmarker and Huguenot settlers as well as indigenous Irishmen who had converted to one of the Protestant denominations. Nationalists are predominantly Catholic and descend from the population predating the settlement, with a minority from Scottish Highlanders as well as some converts from Protestantism. Discrimination against nationalists under the Stormontmarker government (1921–1972) gave rise to the nationalist civil rights movement in the 1960s. Some Unionists argue that any discrimination was not just because of religious or political bigotry, but also the result of more complex socio-economic, socio-political and geographical factors. Whatever the cause, the existence of discrimination, and the manner in which Nationalist anger at it was handled, was a major contributing factor which led to the long-running conflict known as the Troubles. The political unrest went through its most violent phase between 1968 and 1994.

The population of Northern Ireland was estimated as being 1,759,000 on 10 December 2008. In the 2001 census, 45.6% of the population identified as belonging to Protestant denominations (of which 20.7% Presbyterian, 15.3% Church of Ireland), 40.3% identified as Catholic, 0.3% identified with non-Christian religions and 13.9% identified with no religion. In terms of community background, 53.1% of the Northern Irish population came from a Protestant background, 43.8% came from a Catholic background, 0.4% from non-Christian backgrounds and 2.7% non-religious backgrounds. The population is forecast to pass the 1.8 million mark by 2011.

36% of the present-day population define themselves as Unionist, 24% as Nationalist and 40% define themselves as neither. According to a 2007 opinion poll, 66% express long term preference of the maintenance of Northern Ireland's membership of the United Kingdom (either directly ruled or with devolved government), while 23% express a preference for membership of a united Ireland. This discrepancy can be explained by the overwhelming preference among Protestants to remain a part of the UK (89%), while Catholic preferences are spread across a number of solutions to the constitutional question including remaining a part of the UK (39%), a united Ireland (47%), Northern Ireland becoming an independent state (6%), and those who "don't know" (7%). Official voting figures, which reflect views on the "national question" along with issues of candidate, geography, personal loyalty and historic voting patterns, show 54% of Northern Ireland voters vote for Pro-Unionist parties, 42% vote for Pro-Nationalist parties and 4% vote "other". Opinion polls consistently show that the election results are not necessarily an indication of the electorate's stance regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

Most of the population of Northern Ireland are at least nominally Christian. The ethno-political loyalties are allied, though not absolutely, to the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations and these are the labels used to categorise the opposing views. This is, however, becoming increasingly irrelevant as the Irish Question is very complicated. Many voters (regardless of religious affiliation) are attracted to Unionism's conservative policies, while other voters are instead attracted to the traditionally leftist, nationalist Sinn Féin and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and their respective party platforms for Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy. For the most part, Protestants feel a strong connection with Great Britainmarker and wish for Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdommarker. Many Catholics however, generally aspire to a United Ireland or are less certain about how to solve the constitutional question. In the 2007 survey by Northern Ireland Life and Times, 39% of Northern Irish Catholics supported Northern Ireland remaining a part of the United Kingdom, either by direct rule (4%) or devolved government (35%).

Protestants have a slight majority in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Northern Ireland Census. The make-up of the Northern Ireland Assembly reflects the appeals of the various parties within the population. Of the 108 MLA, 55 are Unionists and 44 are Nationalists (the remaining nine are classified as "other").

Citizenship and identity

As part of the United Kingdom, people from Northern Ireland are British citizens. They are also entitled to Irish citizenship by birth which is covered in the 1998 Belfast Agreement between the British and Irish governments, which, provides that:it is the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly [the two governments] confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

As a result of the Agreement, the Constitution of Ireland was amended so that people born in Northern Ireland are entitled to be Irish citizens on the same basis as people from any other part of the island of Ireland.

Neither government, however, extends its citizenship to all persons born in Northern Ireland. Both governments exclude some people born in Northern Ireland (e.g. certain persons born in Northern Ireland neither of whose parents is a UK or Irish national). The Irish restriction was given effect by the Twenty-seventh amendment to the Constitution in 2004.

Several studies and surveys performed between 1971 and 2006 have indicated that, in general, Protestants in Northern Ireland see themselves primarily as 'British', whereas Roman Catholics regard themselves primarily as 'Irish'.Institute of Governance, 2006. "National identities in the UK: do they matter?"Briefing No. 16, January 2006. Retrieved from on 24 August 2006. Extract:"Three-quarters of NorthernIreland’s Protestants regard themselves as British, but only 12per cent of Northern Ireland’s Catholics do so. Conversely, amajority of Catholics (65%) regard themselves as Irish, whilstvery few Protestants (5%) do likewise. Very few Catholics(1%) compared to Protestants (19%) claim an Ulster identitybut a Northern Irish identity is shared in broadly equalmeasure across religious traditions."Details from attitude surveys are in Demographics and politics of Northern Ireland.

This does not however, account for the complex identities within Northern Ireland, given that many of the population regard themselves as "Ulster" or "Northern Irish", either primarily, or as a secondary identity. A 2008 survey found that 57% of Protestants described themselves as British, while 32% identified as Northern Irish, 6% as Ulster and 4% as Irish. Compared to the same survey carried out in 1998 this shows a fall in the percentage of Protestants identifying as British and Ulster, and a rise in those identifying as Northern Irish. The 2008 survey found that 61% of Catholics described themselves as Irish, with 25% identifying as Northern Irish, 8% as British and 1% as Ulster. These figures were largely unchanged from the 1998 results.

Demography of Northern Ireland

The population of Northern Ireland has increased annually since 1978.


Symbols used in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland comprises a patchwork of communities whose national loyalties are represented in some areas by flags flown from lamp posts. The Union Flag and the former Northern Ireland Flag are flown in some loyalist areas, and the Tricolour, adopted by republicans as the flag of Ireland in 1848, is flown in some republican areas. Even kerbstones in some areas are painted red-white-blue or green-white-orange (or gold), depending on whether local people express unionist/loyalist or nationalist/republican sympathies.

The official flag is the Union Flag. The Northern Ireland flag was previously the former Governmental Northern Ireland banner (also known as the "Ulster Banner" or "Red Hand Flag"). It was based on the arms of the former Parliament of Northern Ireland, and was used officially by the Government of Northern Ireland and its agencies between 1953 and 1972. Since 1972, it has no official status. UK flags policy states that in Northern Ireland: The Ulster flag and the Cross of St. Patrick have no official status and, under the Flags Regulations, are not permitted to be flown from Government Buildings.

The Union Flag and the Ulster Banner are mainly used by Unionists.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and the Church of Ireland have used the Flag of St. Patrick. It was used to represent Ireland when the whole island was part of the UK and is used by some British army regiments. Foreign flags are also found, such as the Palestinianmarker flags in some Nationalist areas and Israelimarker flags in some Unionist areas. This is also true during matches with Scottish teams.

The United Kingdom national anthem God Save the Queen is often played at state events in Northern Ireland. At some cross-community events, however, the Londonderry Air (also known as Danny Boy) may be played as a neutral substitute.

At the Commonwealth Games, the Northern Ireland team uses the Ulster Banner as its flag and Danny Boy / A Londonderry Air is used as its national anthem. The Northern Ireland football team also uses the Ulster Banner as its flag but uses God Save The Queen as its national anthem.Major Gaelic Athletic Association matches are opened by the Ireland national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song), which is also used by some other all-Ireland sporting organisations.Since 1995, the Ireland rugby union team has used a specially commissioned song, Ireland's Call as the team's anthemn. The Ireland national anthem is also played at Dublin home matches as a courtesy to the host country.

Northern Irish murals have become well-known features of Northern Ireland, depicting past and present divisions, both also documenting peace and cultural diversity. Almost 2,000 murals have been documented in Northern Ireland since the 1970s (see Conflict Archive on the Internet/Murals).

Geography and climate

Map of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was covered by an ice sheet for most of the last ice age and on numerous previous occasions, the legacy of which can be seen in the extensive coverage of drumlins in Counties Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and particularly Down. The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neaghmarker, at the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Islesmarker. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Ernemarker in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlinmarker, off the Antrim coast. Strangford Loughmarker is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering .

There are substantial uplands in the Sperrin Mountains (an extension of the Caledonian fold mountains) with extensive gold deposits, granite Mourne Mountainsmarker and basalt Antrim Plateau, as well as smaller ranges in South Armagh and along the Fermanagh–Tyrone border. None of the hills are especially high, with Slieve Donardmarker in the dramatic Mournes reaching , Northern Ireland's highest point. Belfast's most prominent peak is Cave Hill. The volcanic activity which created the Antrim Plateau also formed the eerily geometric pillars of the Giant's Causewaymarker on the north Antrim coast. Also in north Antrim are the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridgemarker, Mussenden Temple and the Glens of Antrimmarker.

The Lower and Upper River Bann, River Foylemarker and River Blackwater form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry.

The valley of the River Laganmarker is dominated by Belfast, whose metropolitan area includes over a third of the population of Northern Ireland, with heavy urbanisation and industrialisation along the Lagan Valley and both shores of Belfast Lough.

The whole of Northern Ireland has a temperate maritime climate, rather wetter in the west than the east, although cloud cover is persistent across the region. The weather is unpredictable at all times of the year, and although the seasons are distinct, they are considerably less pronounced than in interior Europe or the eastern seaboard of North America. Average daytime maximums in Belfast are in January and in July. The damp climate and extensive deforestation in the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in much of the region being covered in rich green grassland.

Highest maximum temperature: at Knockarevan, near Garrison, County Fermanaghmarker on 30 June 1976 and at Belfastmarker on 12 July 1983.

Lowest minimum temperature: at Magherally, near Banbridgemarker, County Down on 1 January 1979.


Northern Ireland consists of six historic counties: County Antrim, County Armagh, County Down, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone

These counties are no longer used for local government purposes; instead there are twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland which have different geographical extents, even in the case of those named after the counties from which they derive their name. Fermanagh District Council most closely follows the borders of the county from which it takes its name. Coleraine Borough Council, on the other hand, derives its name from the town of Coleraine in County Londonderry.

counties are no longer used for governmental purpose, they remain a popular means of describing where places are. They are officially used while applying for an Irish passport, which requires one to state one's county of birth. The name of county then appears in both Irish and English on the passport's information page, as opposed to the town or city of birth on the United Kingdom passport. The Gaelic Athletic Association still uses the counties as its primary means of organisation and fields representative teams of each GAA county.

The county boundaries still appear on Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Maps and the Phillips Street Atlases, among others. With their decline in official use, there is often confusion surrounding towns and cities which lie near county boundaries, such as Belfastmarker and Lisburnmarker, which are split between counties Down and Antrim (the majorities of both cities, however, are in Antrim).


There are 5 major settlements with city status in Northern Ireland:

Towns and villages

See also the list of places in Northern Ireland for all villages, towns and cities


Northern Ireland's legal and administrative systems have evolved from those in place in the pre-partition United Kingdommarker, and were developed by its devolved government from 1921 until 1972. From 1972 until 1999 (except for a brief period in 1974), laws and administration relating to Northern Ireland were handled directly from Westminstermarker. Between the years 1999 and 2002 (except during a brief suspension), and since May 2007, devolution has returned to Northern Ireland.


The Northern Ireland economy is the smallest of the four economies making up the United Kingdommarker. Northern Ireland has traditionally had an industrial economy, most notably in shipbuilding, rope manufacture and textiles, but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services, primarily the public sector. Tourism also plays a big role in the local economy. More recently the economy has benefited from major investment by many large multi-national corporations into high tech industry. These large organisations are attracted by government subsidies and the skilled workforce in Northern Ireland. Despite the presence of many multi-national corporations, the largest employer in the country is the Government.


Northern Ireland is served by three airports - Belfast Internationalmarker near Antrimmarker, George Best Belfast Citymarker in East Belfast, and City of Derrymarker in County Londonderry.

Major sea ports at Larnemarker and Belfastmarker carry passengers and freight between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Passenger railways are operated by Northern Ireland Railways. With Iarnrod Éireann (Irish Rail), Northern Ireland Railways co-operates in providing the joint Enterprise service between Dublinmarker and Belfastmarker.

Main motorways are:
  • M1 connecting Belfast to the south and west, ending in Dungannonmarker
  • M2 connecting Belfast to the north
  • M3marker connecting the M1 and M2 in Belfast with the A2 dual carriageway to Bangormarker
  • M5 connecting Belfast to Newtownabbeymarker

The cross-border European route E01 is a major EU-funded cross-border route that will eventually upgrade the road connecting the ports between Larnemarker in Northern Ireland and Rosslare in the Republic of Irelandmarker.


With its improved international reputation, Northern Ireland has recently witnessed rising numbers of tourists. Attractions include cultural festivals, musical and artistic traditions, countryside and geographical sites of interest, public houses, welcoming hospitality and sports (especially golf and fishing). Since 1987 public houses have been allowed to open on Sundays, despite some opposition.

The Ulster Cycle is a large body of prose and verse centring around the traditional heroes of the Ulaid in what is now eastern Ulster. This is one of the four major cycles of Irish Mythology. The cycle centres around the reign of Conchobar mac Nessa, who is said to have been king of Ulster around the time of Christ. He ruled from Emain Machamarker (now Navan Fort near Armagh), and had a fierce rivalry with queen Medb and king Ailill of Connacht and their ally, Fergus mac Róich, former king of Ulster. The foremost hero of the cycle is Conchobar's nephew Cúchulainn.



The dialect of English spoken in Northern Ireland shows influence from Scotlandmarker, with the use of such Scots words as wee for 'little' and aye for 'yes'. Some jocularly call this dialect phonetically by the name Norn Iron. There are supposedly some minute differences in pronunciation between Protestants and Catholics, the best known of which is the name of the letter h, which Protestants tend to pronounce as "aitch", as in British English, and Catholics tend to pronounce as "haitch", as in Hiberno-English. However, geography is a much more important determinant of dialect than religious background. English is spoken as a first language by almost 100% of the Northern Irish population, though under the Good Friday Agreement, Irish and Ulster Scots (one of the dialects of the Scots language), sometimes known as Ullans, have recognition as "part of the cultural wealth of Northern Ireland".


The Irish language (Gaeilge) is the native language of the whole island of Irelandmarker. It was spoken predominantly throughout what is now Northern Ireland before the settlement of Protestants from Great Britainmarker in the 17th century. Most placenames throughout Northern Ireland are anglicised versions of their Gaelic originals. These Gaelic placenames include thousands of lanes, roads, townlands, towns, villages and all of its modern cities. Examples include Belfast- derived from Béal Feirste, Shankill- derived from Sean Cill and Lough Neagh- derived from Loch nEathach.

In Northern Ireland the Irish language has long been associated with Irish nationalism. The language was seen as a common heritage and indeed the object of affection by many prominent 19th century Protestant republicans and Protestant unionists. There are three main dialects in the island of Ireland—Ulster, Munster and Connacht. Speakers of each dialect often find others difficult to understand. Speakers in Northern Ireland speak the Ulster dialect.

In the early years of the 20th century, the language became a political football throughout Ireland as Republican activists became increasingly linked with it. In the 20th century, the language became in Unionist eyes increasingly polarised for political ends and many in that community would blame Sinn Féin in this regard. After Ireland was partitioned, the language was largely rejected in the education system of the new Northern Ireland. It is argued that the predominant use of the English language may have served to exacerbate the Troubles.

The erection by some Local District Councils of legal bilingual street names (English/Irish), invariably in predominantly Catholic/Nationalist/Republican districts, may be perceived as creating a 'chill factor' by Unionists and as such not conducive to fostering good cross community relationships. However other countries within the United Kingdom, such as Wales and Scotland, enjoy the use of Bilingual signs in Welsh and Scots Gaelic respectively. Because of this, nationalists in Northern Ireland argue for equality in this regard. In responses to the 2001 census in Northern Ireland 10% of the population claimed "some knowledge of Irish", 4.7% to "speak, read, write and understand" Irish. It was not asked as part of the census but in a poll, 1% of respondents said they speak it as their main language at home. Following a public consultation, the decision was taken not to introduce specific legislation for the Irish language at this time, despite 75% of the (self-selecting) respondents stating that they were in favour of such legislation.

Ulster Irish or Donegal Irish, is the dialect which is nearest to Scots Gaelic. Some words and phrases of the dialect are shared with Scots Gaelic. The dialects of East Ulster - those of Rathlin Island and the Glens of Antrim - were very similar to the Scottish Gaelic dialect formerly spoken in Argyll, the part of Scotland nearest to Rathlin Island. The Ulster Gaelic is the most central dialect of Gaelic, both geographically and linguistically, of the once vast Gaelic speaking world, stretching from the south of Ireland to the north of Scotland.At the beginning of the 20th century, Munster Irish was favoured by many revivalists, with a shift to Connaught Irish in the 1960s, which is now the preferred dialect by many in Ireland. Many younger speakers of Irish experience less confusion with dialects due to the expansion of Irish-language broadcasting (TG4) and the exposure to a variety of dialects. There are fewer problems regarding written Irish as there is a standardised spelling and grammar, created by the Irish Government, which was supposed to reflect a compromise between various dialect forms. However, Ulster Irish speakers find that Ulster forms are generally not favoured by the standard.

All learners of Irish in Northern Ireland use this form of the language. Self-instruction courses in Ulster Irish include Now You’re Talking and Tús maith.The writer Séamus Ó Searcaigh, once warned about the Irish Government's attempts at producing a Caighdeán or Standard for the Irish language in Ireland in 1953, when he wrote that what will emerge will be "Gaedhilg nach mbéidh suim againn inntí mar nár fhás sí go nádúrtha as an teangaidh a thug Gaedhil go hÉirinn" (A Gaelic which is of no interest to us, for it has not developed naturally from the language brought to Ireland by the Gaels).The Ulster Irish dialect is spoken throughout the area of the historical nine county Ulster, in particular the Gaeltacht region of County Donegal and the of West Belfast. Mayo Irish has strong ties with Donegal Irish.

Ulster Scots

Ulster Scots comprises varieties of the Scots language spoken in Northern Ireland. Aodán Mac Poilín states that "While most argue that Ulster-Scots is a dialect or variant of Scots, some have argued or implied that Ulster-Scots is a separate language from Scots. The case for Ulster-Scots being a distinct language, made at a time when the status of Scots itself was insecure, is so bizarre that it is unlikely to have been a linguistic argument." Approximately 2% of the population claim to speak Ulster Scots, however the number speaking it as their main language in their home is negligible. Classes at colleges can now be taken but for a native English speaker "[the language] is comparatively accessible, and even at its most intense can be understood fairly easily with the help of a glossary." The St Andrews Agreement recognises the need to "enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language, heritage and culture".

Other languages

There are an increasing number of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland. Chinese and Urdu are spoken by Northern Ireland's Asian communities; though the Chinese community is often referred to as the "third largest" community in Northern Ireland, it is tiny by international standards. Since the accession of new member states to the European Union in 2004, Central and Eastern European languages, particularly Polish, are becoming increasingly common.

The most common sign language in Northern Ireland is British Sign Language (BSL), but as Catholics tended to send their deaf children to schools in Dublin (St Joseph's Institute for Deaf Boys and St. Mary's Institute for Deaf Girls), Irish Sign Language (ISL) is commonly used in the Nationalist community. The two languages are not related: BSL is in the British family (which also includes Auslan), and ISL is in the French family (which also includes American Sign Language).

Variations in geographic nomenclature

Alternative names for Northern Ireland

Many people inside and outside Northern Ireland use other names for Northern Ireland, depending on their point of view.

Notwithstanding the ancient realm of Dál Riata which extended into Scotland, disagreement on names, and the reading of political symbolism into the use or non-use of a word, also attaches itself to some urban centres. The most famous example is whether Northern Ireland's second city should be called "Derry" or "Londonderry".

Choice of language and nomenclature in Northern Ireland often reveals the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of the speaker. The first Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Seamus Mallon, was criticised by unionist politicians for calling the region the "North of Ireland" while Sinn Féin has been criticised in some Irish newspapers for still referring to the "Six Counties".

Those who do not belong to any group but lean towards one side often tend to use the language of that group. Supporters of unionism in the British media (notably the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express) regularly call Northern Ireland "Ulster". Some nationalist and republican-leaning media outlets in Ireland almost always use "North of Ireland" or the "Six Counties".

Government and cultural organisations in Northern Ireland, particularly those pre-dating the 1980s , often use the word "Ulster" in their title; for example, the University of Ulster, the Ulster Museummarker, the Ulster Orchestra, and BBC Radio Ulster.

Many news bulletins since the 1990s have opted to avoid all contentious terms and use the official name, Northern Ireland. The North is still used by some news bulletins in the Republic, to the annoyance of some Unionists. Bertie Ahern, the previous Taoiseach, now almost always refers to Northern Ireland in public, having previously only used The North. For Northern Ireland's second largest city, broadcasting outlets which are unaligned to either community and broadcast to both use both names interchangeably, often starting a report with "Londonderry" and then using "Derry" in the rest of the report. However, within Northern Ireland, print media which are aligned to either community (the News Letter is aligned to the unionist community while the Irish News is aligned to the nationalist community) generally use their community's preferred term. British newspapers with unionist leanings, such as the Daily Telegraph, usually use the language of the unionist community. In its style guide, The Guardian recommends using "Derry" and "Co Derry", and "not Londonderry". The media in the Republic use the names preferred by nationalists. Whether this is all an official editorial policy or a personal preference by the writers is unknown.

The division in nomenclature is seen particularly in sports and religions associated with one of the communities. Gaelic games use Derry, for example. Nor is there clear agreement on how to decide on a name. When the nationalist-controlled local council voted to re-name the city "Derry" unionists objected, stating that as it owed its city status to a Royal Charter, only a charter issued by the Queen could change the name. The Queen has not intervened on the matter and thus the council is now called "Derry City Council" while the city is still officially "Londonderry". Nevertheless, the council has printed two sets of stationery - one for each term - and their policy is to reply to correspondence using whichever term the original sender used.

At times of high communal tension, each side regularly complains of the use of the nomenclature associated with the other community by a third party such as a media organisation, claiming such usage indicates evident "bias" against their community.


  • Ulster (Ulaidh) is strictly the historic province of Ulster, six of its nine counties are in Northern Ireland. The term "Ulster" is widely used by the Unionist community and the British press as shorthand for Northern Ireland. In the past, calls were made for Northern Ireland's name to be changed to Ulster. This proposal was formally considered by the Government of Northern Ireland in 1937 and again in 1949 but no change was made.

  • The Province (An Cúige) refers literally to the historic Irish province of Ulster but today is used widely, within this community, as shorthand for Northern Ireland. The BBC, in its editorial guidance for Reporting the United Kingdom, states that "the province" is an appropriate secondary synonym for Northern Ireland, "Ulster" is not. It also deprecates the use of the term "British" in favour of "people of Northern Ireland", and the term "mainland" when referring to Great Britainmarker in relation to Northern Ireland


  • North of Ireland (Tuaisceart na hÉireann) - to link Northern Ireland to the rest of the island, by describing it as being in the 'north of Ireland' and so by implication playing down Northern Ireland's links with Great Britainmarker. (The northernmost point in Ireland, in County Donegalmarker, is in fact in the Republic.)

  • North-East Ireland (Oirthuaisceart Éireann) - used in the same way as the "North of Ireland" is used.

  • The Six Counties (na Sé Chontae) - language used by republicans e.g. Republican Sinn Féin, which avoids using the name given by the British-enacted Government of Ireland Act 1920. (the Republic is similarly described as the Twenty-Six Counties.) Some of the users of these terms contend that using the official name of the region would imply acceptance of the legitimacy of the Government of Ireland Act.

  • The Occupied Six Counties. The state of Ireland, whose legitimacy is not recognised by republicans opposed to the Belfast Agreement, is described as "The Free State", referring to the Irish Free State, which gained independence (as a Dominion) in 1922.

  • British-Occupied Ireland. Similar in tone to the Occupied Six Counties this term is used by more dogmatic anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans who still hold that the First Dáil was the last legitimate government of Ireland and that all governments since have been foreign imposed usurpations of Irish national self-determination.

  • Fourth Green Field (An Cheathrú Gort Glas). From the song Four Green Fields by Tommy Makem which describes Ireland as divided with one of the four green fields (the traditional provinces of Ireland) being In strangers hands, referring to the partition of Ireland.


  • The North (An Tuaisceart) - used to describe Northern Ireland in the same way that "The South" is used to describe the Republic.
  • Norn Iron (previously rendered "Norn Irn") - is an informal and affectionate local nickname used by both nationalists and unionists to refer to Northern Ireland, derived from the pronunciation of the words "Northern Ireland" in an exaggerated Ulster accent (particularly one from the Greater Belfast area). The phrase is seen as a light-hearted way to refer to the province, based as it is on regional pronunciation. Often refers to the Northern Ireland national football team.

Descriptions for Northern Ireland

There is no generally accepted term to describe what Northern Ireland is: province, region, country or something else. The choice of term can be controversial and can reveal the writer's political preferences. This has been noted as a problem by several writers on Northern Ireland, with no generally recommended solution.

Owing in part to the way in which the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland came into being, there is no legally defined term to describe what Northern Ireland 'is'. There is also no uniform or guiding way to refer to Northern Ireland amongst the agencies of the UK government. For example, the websites of the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the UK Statistics Authority describe the United Kingdom as being made up of four countries, one of these being Northern Ireland. Other pages on the same websites refer to Northern Ireland specifically as a "province" as do publications of the UK Statistics Authority. The website of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also refers to Northern Ireland as being a province as does the website of the Office of Public Sector Information and other agencies within Northern Ireland. Publications of HM Treasury and the Department of Finance and Personnel of the Northern Ireland Executive, on the other hand, describe Northern Ireland as being a "region of the UK".

Unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland has no history of being an independent country or of being a nation in its own right. Some writers describe the United Kingdom as being made up of three countries and one province or point out the difficulties with calling Northern Ireland a country. Authors writing specifically about Northern Ireland dismiss the idea that Northern Ireland is a "country" in general terms, and draw contrasts in this respect with England, Scotland and Wales. Even for the period covering the first 50 years of Northern Ireland's existence, the term country is considered inappropriate by some political scientists on the basis that many decisions were still made in London. The absence of a distinct nation of Northern Ireland, separate within the island of Ireland, is also pointed out as being a problem with using the term and is in contrast to England, Scotland and Wales.

Many commentators prefer to use the term "province", although that is also not without problems. It can arouse irritation, particularly among Nationalists, for whom the title province is properly reserved for the traditional province of Ulster, of which Northern Ireland occupies six out of nine counties. The BBC style guide is to refer to Northern Ireland as a province, and use of the term is common in literature and newspaper reports on Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Some authors have described the meaning of this term as being equivocal: referring to Northern Ireland as being a province both of the United Kingdom and of the traditional country of Ireland.

"Region" is used by several UK government agencies and the European Union. Some authors choose this word but note that it is "unsatisfactory". Northern Ireland can also be simply described as "part of the UK", including by UK government offices.


In Northern Ireland, sport is popular and important in the lives of many people. Sports tend to be organised on an all-Ireland basis including both Northern Ireland and the Republic, as in the case of Gaelic football, rugby, hockey, basketball, cricket and hurling. The main exception is association football (soccer), which has separate governing bodies for each jurisdiction.

Gaelic games

Gaelic games include Gaelic football, hurling, Gaelic handball and rounders. Of the four, football is the most popular in Northern Ireland. Players play for local clubs with the best being selected for their county teams: Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone. The Ulster GAA is the branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association that is responsible for all nine counties of Ulster, including the six that are in Northern Ireland. All nine field teams in the Ulster Senior Football Championship, Ulster Senior Hurling Championship, All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Recent successes for Northern Ireland's teams include Armagh's 2002 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship win and Tyrone's wins in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

Association football (soccer)

The Irish Football Association (IFA) is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland. The highest level of competition within Northern Ireland is the IFA Premiership. There is also an all-island tournament, the Setanta Cup, which includes four IFA Premiership teams and four teams from the Republic's league. However, the best Northern Irish players tend to play for clubs in Great Britainmarker in the English or Scottish leagues. Despite Northern Ireland's small population, its international team has had a number of notable successes, including World Cup quarter-final appearances in 1958 and 1982.

Rugby union

Northern Ireland's six counties are among the nine governed by the Ulster branch of the all-island governing body, the Irish Rugby Football Union. Ulster is one of the four professional provincial teams in the island of Ireland and competes in the Celtic League and European Cup. Ulster won the European Cup in 1999. In international competition, players from Northern Ireland represent the Ireland national rugby team, whose recent successes include four Triple Crown between 2004 and 2009 and a Grand Slam in 2009.


Cricket is the fastest growing sport in the country. The Ireland cricket team is an associate member of the International Cricket Council. It participated in 2007 Cricket World Cup and qualified for the Super 8s and did the same in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20. Ireland are current champions of ICC Intercontinental Cup and the under-19 team is also performing very well. The regular international ground is Stormontmarker in Belfast.


Education in Northern Ireland differs slightly from systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdommarker. Unlike most areas of the United Kingdom, in the last year of primary school children sit the eleven plus transfer test, and the results determine whether they attend grammar schools or secondary schools. This system was due to be changed in 2008 amidst some controversy, with the exception of north Armagh where the Dickson Plan is in effect.

Northern Ireland's state (controlled) schools are open to all children in Northern Ireland, although in practice are mainly attended by those from Protestant or non-religious backgrounds. There is a separate publicly funded school system provided for Roman Catholics, although Roman Catholics are free to attend state schools (and some non-Roman Catholics attend Roman Catholic schools). Integrated schools, which attempt to ensure a balance in enrolment between pupils of Protestant, Roman Catholic and other faiths (or none) are becoming increasingly popular, although Northern Ireland still has a primarily de facto religiously segregated education system. In the primary school sector, forty schools (8.9% of the total number) are Integrated Schools and thirty two (7.2% of the total number) are Gaelscoileanna.


There are two main universities in Northern Ireland - The Queen's University of Belfastmarker, and the University of Ulster.

See also



  1. Statutory Rules & Orders published by authority, 1921 (No. 533); Additional source for 3 May 1921 date: Alvin Jackson, Home Rule - An Irish History, Oxford University Press, 2004, p198.
  2. Standing up for Northern Ireland Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  3. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  4. Policy Summaries: Constitutional Issues, accessed, 2 August 2008
  5. Northern Ireland became a distinct region of the United Kingdom, by Order in Council on 3 May 1921 (Statutory Rules & Orders published by authority (SR&O) 1921, No. 533). Its constitutional roots remain the Act of Union, two complementary Acts, one passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, the other by the Parliament of Ireland.
  6. On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament resolved to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State: ”Most Gracious Sovereign, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland". Source: Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report, 7 December 1922 and Anglo-Irish Treaty, sections 11, 12
  7. Dáil Éireann - Volume 13 - 10 December 1925.
  8. "Anglo-Irish Relations, 1939—41: A Study in Multilateral Diplomacy and Military Restraint" in Twentieth Century British History (Oxford Journals, 2005). ISSN 1477-4674.
  9. Malcolm Sutton’s book, “Bear in Mind These Dead: An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland 1969 - 1993.
  10. The Ballast report: "...the Police Ombudsman has concluded that this was collusion by certain police officers with identified UVF informants."
  11. BBC ON THIS DAY | 9 | 1973: Northern Ireland votes for union
  12. Parliamentary debate: "The British government agree that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish."
  13. Northern Ireland Act 2006 (c. 17)
  14. (BBC)
  15. "For the purposes of the English conflict of laws, every country in the world which is not part of England and Wales is a foreign country and its foreign laws. This means that not only totally foreign independent countries such as France or Russia... are foreign countries but also British Colonies such as the Falkland Islands. Moreover, the other parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland and Northern Ireland—are foreign countries for present purposes, as are the other British Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey." Conflict of Laws, JG Collier, Fellow of Trinity Hall and lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge
  16. Professor John H. Whyte paper on discrimination in Northern Ireland
  17. CAIN website key issues discrimination summary
  18. Lord Scarman, "Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969: Report of Tribunal of Inquiry" Belfast: HMSO, Cmd 566. (known as the Scarman Report)
  19. BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | NI's population passes 1.75m mark
  20. Northern Ireland Census 2001, Table KS07a: Religion
  21. Northern Ireland Census 2001, Table KS07b: Community background: religion or religion brought up in
  22. BBC News: Fascination of religion head count
  23. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency population projections
  24. Ark survey, 2007. Answer to the question "Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a unionist, a nationalist or neither?"
  25. Answers to the question "Do you think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be for it [one of the following"
  26. Ark survey, 2007. Answers to the question "Do you think the long-term policy for Northern Ireland should be for it to [one of the following"
  27. NI Life and Times Survey - 2007: NIRELND2
  28. Department Of the Taoiseach
  29. Breen, R., Devine, P. and Dowds, L. (editors), 1996. "Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland: The Fifth Report" ISBN 0-86281-593-2. Chapter 2 retrieved from on 24 August 2006. Summary: In 1989—1994, 79% Protestants replied "British" or "Ulster", 60% of Catholics replied "Irish."
  30. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1999. Module:Community Relations. Variable:NINATID. Summary:72% of Protestants replied "British". 68% of Catholics replied "Irish".
  31. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey. Module:Community Relations. Variable:BRITISH. Summary: 78% of Protestants replied "Strongly British."
  32. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1999. Module:Community Relations. Variable:IRISH. Summary: 77% of Catholics replied "Strongly Irish."
  33. [1] University of York Research Project 2002-2003 L219252024 - Public Attitudes to Devolution and National Identity in Northern Ireland
  34. Northern Ireland: Constitutional Proposals and the Problem of Identity, by J. R. Archer The Review of Politics, 1978
  35. A changed Irish nationalism? The significance of the Belfast Agreement of 1998, by Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd
  36. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 2008. Module:Community Relations. Variable:IRISH.
  37. Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 1998. Module:Community Relations. Variable:IRISH.
  38. Vandals curbed by plastic edging BBC News, 25 November 2008
  39. Statutory Rule 2000 No. 347
  41. Northern Irish flags from the World Flag Database
  42. Many Nationalists use the name County Derry.
  43. Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland Rosalind M.O. Pritchard University of Ulster at Coleraine, UK
  44. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (No. 759 (N.I. 5))[2]
  45. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency Census 2001 Output
  46. Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES Survey: What is the main language spoken in your own home?
  47. A Statement by Edwin Poots MLA, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, to the Northern Ireland Assembly on the proposal to introduce Irish Language legislation. 16 October 2007
  48. Home Page
  49. Aodan Mac Poilin, 1999, "Language, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland" in Ulster Folk Life Vol. 45, 1999
  50. Northern Ireland LIFE & TIMES Survey: Do you yourself speak Ulster-Scots?
  51. Sunday Independent article on Mallon and the use of "Six Counties".
  52. Example of Daily Telegraph use of "Ulster" in text of an article, having used "Northern Ireland" in the opening paragraph.
  53. The Guardian style guide
  54. RTÉ News usage
  55. Examples of usage of this term include Radio Ulster, Ulster Orchestra and RUC; political parties like the Ulster Unionist Party; paramilitary organisations like Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force. Ulster was also used political campaigns such as "Ulster Says No" and Save Ulster from Sodomy.
  56. Parliamentary Reports of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, Volume 20 (1937) and The Times, January 6, 1949 – See also Alternative names for Northern Ireland
  57. DUP Press Release "Paisley reacts to Prime Minister's statement". Date unknown. Extract "The DUP will be to the fore in representing the vast majority of unionists in the Province."—example of Ian Paisley referring to Northern Ireland as The Province. Retrieved from on 11 October 2006.
  58. "The term “province” is often used synonymously with Northern Ireland and it is normally appropriate to make secondary references to “ the province”"
  59. Sinn Féin usage of "Six Counties"
  60. Examples of usage by the United States-based extreme republican "Irish Freedom Committee"
  61. Usage on "", a republican website
  62. Example: or
  63. Example: or
  64. Example: or
  65. How do other sports in the island cope with the situation? The Herald, April 3, 2008

Further reading

  • Jonathan Bardon, A History of Ulster (Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1992), ISBN 0-85640-476-4
  • Brian E. Barton, The Government of Northern Ireland, 1920—1923 (Athol Books, 1980).
  • Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson The State in Northern Ireland, 1921—72: Political Forces and Social Classes, Manchester (Manchester University Press, 1979)
  • Robert Kee, The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism (Penguin, 1972–2000), ISBN 0-14-029165-2
  • Osborne Morton, 1994. Marine Algae of Northern Ireland Ulster Museum, Belfast.
  • Henry Patterson, "Ireland Since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict" (Penguin, 2006), ISBN 978-1-844-88104-8
  • Hackney, P. (Ed).1992. Stewart's and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Third edition. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0 85389 446 9(HB)
  • Betts, N.L. in Hackney, P. 1992. Stewart & Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Third Edition. Institute of Irish Studies. The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0 85389 446 9 (HB)

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