As Noord-Ierland marks the centenary of its foundation in May 1921 after the partition of Ireland, here is a timeline of how that came to happen.
Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland
The Act of Union 1801 entered into force creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, governed through parliament in London.
The second half of the next century was riven by opposing forces of those wishing to maintain the union of Ireland and Great Britain and those who wanted to destroy it.
Irish nationalism was Catholic in outlook for historic reasons and two bills proposing self-government in Ireland tabled by the Liberal prime minister William Gladstone in 1886 en 1893 shook the largely Protestant unionist community north and south of the border who feared home rule would mean Rome rule.
Unionists, whose greatest numbers were in Ulster, galvanised and began a campaign to win support in England, finding powerful allies in the Conservative party who vowed to kill home rule. The orange order revived and became the rallying centre for anti-home rule campaign at the turn of the century led by Edward Carson.
1916 Easter Rising
An armed insurrection in Dublin over Easter weekend was unsuccessful in its aim to overthrow the British administration, but after 16 of the rebellion’s leaders, who had declared a republic, were executed, the cause of Irish independence became turbo-charged.
1919-1921 Irish war of independence
A brutal three-year war between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British forces followed. It ended with a ceasefire in July 1921 with increasing reputational damage to Britain coming out of Ireland. An Anglo-Irish treaty followed in December 1921 leading to the establishment of the Irish free state of 26 counties, including three counties of the province of Ulster.
So why then is 3 Mei 2021 and not December 2021 the centenary of Northern Ireland?
1920 Government of Ireland Act
The British did not negotiate with Irish republicans until first settling the Ulster question and passed the Government of Ireland Act in December 1920, providing for the setting up of two parliaments. Despite the ongoing war of independence in Ireland, it came into force on 3 Mei 1921, the date that determined the present form of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
There were two elections north and south of the border that May with King George V opening parliament in Belfast on 22 June but the remainder of the country remained in open rebellion. King George said in his speech: “I pray that my coming to Ireland today may prove to be the first step towards the end of strife among her people, whatever their race or creed. In that hope, I appeal to all Irishmen, to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive, and to join in making for the land they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill.”