JOSEPH RUANE and JENNIFER TODD
Ethnic conflict in Ireland is centuries old. It continues in Northern Ireland despite the peace process, the paramilitary ceasefires and the Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement of 10 April 1998. State strategies of territorial management have been central to this conflict since the outset. In this chapter we examine the sources and changing form of the conflict: its historical origins, the changing ethnic balance, the causes of current tension, the strategies now being pursued for dealing with it, and the prospects for the future.
Ethnic division in Ireland emerged in the context of English state expansion and the beginnings of the creation of a British empire. Ireland was one piece in this imperial jigsaw. The character and intensity of internal divisions within Ireland, their articulation as ethnonational oppositions and the modes of state management of ethnic conflict were determined by this wider context. 1
By the sixteenth century a new, highly competitive, international order had emerged in Europe. The strongest monarchs were consolidating their kingdoms and accumulating territories within Europe and beyond the Atlantic. The reformation had divided Europe in religious denominational terms, creating new bases of political alliance. English crown policy was to bring Wales, Scotland and Ireland under its control, to avoid continental entanglements, to build up its sea-power and to establish colonies and trade networks in the New World. This was the beginning of the political unification of Great Britain, the making of the United Kingdom and the first step in the creation of a wider 'British world'. 2 This placed the English crown and government at the centre of