Portal:Northern Ireland

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Location of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland borders the Republic of Ireland to its south and west

Northern Ireland is the smallest and least populous constituent country of the United Kingdom. It occupies roughly one sixth of the island of Ireland and is the only part of the United Kingdom to share a land border (that of the Republic of Ireland) with a different state.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921 out of the continuation of the Act of Union 1800, when the island of Ireland as a whole became part of the United Kingdom. Twenty-six counties of Ireland were separated from the United Kingdom in 1921, following the Irish War of Independence and subsequent Treaty. The remaining six counties were named Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Government operated for 50 years, until it was suspended in 1972 due to civil disturbances known as The Troubles. Several attempts have since been made to restore some form of devolved government to the region, culminating in the recent Belfast Agreement. It is sometimes described as a province, referring to it being a province of the United Kingdom, though it is also part of a larger Irish province called Ulster.

Belfast is Northern Ireland's capital city. The official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Flag, although the former flag of the Government of Northern Ireland is still widely used to represent Northern Ireland, particularly in sporting events. It is based on the older flag of Ulster (with the addition of a crown, a star and a white background.) Flags and emblems are politically contentious, and several flags are widely flown. Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, including Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland had the largest textile industry in the world before the last industrial and technological revolutions, combined with outsourcing of labour, made production cheaper elsewhere. Belfast is also known for having two of the largest gantry cranes in the world, towering above the largest dry dock in the world, in its ship building factory Harland & Wolff, which is also famous for producing the ill-fated RMS Titanic.

Selected article

Basalt columns

The Giant's Causeway is an area of 40,000 tightly packed basalt columns resulting from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. It is located along the northeast coast of Ireland about 3 km north of the town of Bushmills in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 (by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland). In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The Giant's Causeway is owned and managed by the National Trust. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, however there are some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.

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Belfast City Hall - Under Construction.jpg
Belfast City Hall under construction in 1901

Selected biography

David Ervine commemorated in a mural painted at Montrose Street South, Albertbridge Road, east Belfast
David Ervine (21 July 1953 - 8 January 2007) was a Northern Irish politician and the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party.

Raised in a Protestant working-class area of east Belfast, at 19 Ervine joined the Ulster Volunteer Force. Ervine was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment following an arrest in November 1974, for possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.

After much study and self-analysis whilst in jail, Ervine apparnetly emerged with the view that change through politics was preferrable to terrorism. Released in 1980, he ran a newsagents' in Belfast for several years before taking up full-time politics. He stood in local council elections as a Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) candidate in 1985.

The PUP maintained links with the UVF, and Ervine is said to have played a pivotal role in bringing about the loyalist ceasefire of October 1994. He was part of a delegation to Downing Street in June 1996 that met then British Prime Minister John Major to discuss the loyalist ceasefire.

Ervine was considered to be one of the most progressive unionists in Northern Ireland politics. He had been a strong supporter of the Belfast Agreement. At a Labour Party meeting in 2001, then Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, described him as "one of the most eloquent politicians in Northern Ireland". Some of the less articulate of his opponents made references to him having swallowed a dictionary. Some saw Ervine as one of the few politicians actively engaged with conflict resolution.

In the Northern Ireland Assembly, he was seen as a Unionist sympathetic to the short term demands of Sinn Fein. He abstained against attempts by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to exclude Sinn Fein from office in July 2000 and October 2001. In April 2001, he provoked a direct political attack from the DUP over him being the only Unionist to vote against a motion condemning the display of lillies commemorating the 1916 Easter Uprising at Parliament Buildings. He also expressed support for the right of Sinn Fein members to make speeches in Irish Gaelic on the floor of the Assembly. Later, political commentators noted how he sat next to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness at the funeral of Northern Ireland football legend George Best in December 2005 as a sign of how Northern Ireland had moved on.

In its final regular reports of Ervine's life in April and October 2006, the IMC concluded that it was satisfied the PUP leadership had taken appropriate action to de-escalate UVF's violence and criminality and withdrew its punitive recommendations. On 13 May 2006, it was announced that when the Northern Ireland Assembly reconvenes, Ervine would join the Ulster Unionist assembly group, whilst remaining leader of the Progressive Unionists. Under the d'Hondt formula used for allocating places on the Northern Ireland Executive this would entitle the Ulster Unionists to an additional place. On 11 September, 2006 Ms Bell announced that the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Group did not have a headquarters, at least one party leader and a scheme for financial support thus did not qualify as a political party.

Ervine suffered a heart attack, a stroke and brain haemorrhage after attending a football match between his team, Glentoran, and Armagh City at The Oval in Belfast on Saturday 6 January 2007. He died on Monday 8 January 2007 and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery on January 12, after a funeral service in east Belfast attended by Mark Durkan, Gerry Adams, Peter Hain, Dermot Ahern, Hugh Orde and David Trimble amongst others.


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Northern Ireland on Wikipedia

  • Northern Ireland is in the top 250 most referenced articles. It ranks 232nd, with 3,955 links to it - one more link than Music, and many more links than the Bible.
  • Besides English, the Northern Ireland article has been translated to 44 other languages.

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