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During WWI England had to face different problems inside and outside its boundaries: outside was WWI; inside there were Ireland and India which asked for independence from the old country (=la vecchia madrepatria, cioè l'Inghilterra).

India obtained independence in 1947 and it was split into 2 different states: India and Pakistan. Irish way to independence was longer than Indian.

The problems between Ireland and England are deeply-rooted/have their origins both in history and in religion.

In history because Ireland was colonised by England in the XIII century. In religion because British colonisation brought a new religion in Ireland. Irish people had Celtic origins. Celtics were known as a Catholic people, whereas English people were Protestants.

English people introduced feudalism in Ireland and obliged Irish people to work the land as serfs. Only a very little part of the crop remained to Irish people who had to live on it, thus living in very poor conditions.

Through the following centuries English Protestants tried to subdue Irish Catholic people. In the XVI century, two acts were passed by English Parliament: the first stated that Irish Parliament could only be summoned under the consent/authorization of the English king; the second one, stated that every act approved by the English Parliament should be applied to Ireland as well.

In the XVII century, English Protestants settled in the North-East of Ireland, in the region called Ulster, which included 6 counties (=contee).

In 1689, James II (a Catholic king of the Stuart dynasty) offered his help to Irish Catholics landing an army in Ireland. However, English Protestants could count on the help of William of Orange (Hannover dynasty) and won the Battle of the Boyne (1690). From now on, Irish Protestants will be called Orangemen.

Britain feared Irish economic competition, thus it prohibited Ireland to produce goods and raw materials. In the meantime, Irish people continued asking for independence.

In 1801, the Act of Union, established that Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This also meant that Anglican Church became the Irish official Church and that Catholics were not allowed to sit in Parliament, even though 88% of the population was Catholic.

In 1829, England feared an Irish Civil War, so it passed the Catholic Emancipation Act which gave Catholics the right to vote.

As feudalism was introduced, English became rich landowners, whereas Irish people lived on potatoes. In 1845-6 the failure of the potato crop (=raccolto) brought to famine (=carestia). Irish people blamed (=accusare) the English for the disaster, and asked for Home Rule (=self-government).

In 1905, an Home Rule Party (=un partito a favore dell'autogoverno) was founded by Charles Stuart Parnell. The party took the name of Sinn Feinn, a Celtic expression that means "ourselves alone

Tension continued throughout the years and in 1914, Dublin government was given full control except over foreign and constitutional matters. Anyway, with the outbreak of WWI, England postponed the resolution of the problem and it was agreed that in the meantime hostilities would be suspended . BUT . in April 1916 in Dublin there was an uprising led by a group of extreme nationalists of Sinn Feinn. The uprising was repressed by the British army: 450 people died and over 3,000 were wounded (=feriti). The rebels were executed. This uprising remained to the history with the name of Easter Rising. It is still strongly celebrated by the Catholic Nationalist Community.

At the end of WWI, the question rose again. A key-ure (=ura chiave) was that of the leader of the Sinn Feinn: Eamon de Valera. In this period, nationalists organized their own army called I.R.A. - Irish Republican Army. It mostly used guerrilla tactics. The conflict between English and Irish people became bitter and more violent

In 1921, Britain proposed a treaty (=trattato / tregua) to the rebels. It consisted in dividing Ireland into two parts:

the Ulster (6 counties). It was given limited Home Rule, a separate Parliament in Belfast but it remained tied to Britain. It had a mostly Protestant population

The Irish Free State. It governed itself but stayed under British rule.

The treaty was not accepted by the rebels and in 1922-3 civil war outbreak. IRA surrendered their arms but not their intentions.

In 1937 the Irish Free State was renamed EIRE, the Gaelic name for Ireland.

In 1949, the final link with Britain was broken and Ireland became a REPUBLIC.


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