Northern Ireland, Sport and Sectarianism in

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With the exception of South Africa under the apartheid regime, it appears that there are few more appropriate examples regarding the use of sport to create, exacerbate, or at least reflect division than the case of Northern Ireland. With a total population of 7 million, the island of Ireland, situated on the western seaboard of Europe, is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an independent nation-state, and Northern Ireland, which despite having a devolved assembly, remains constitutionally tied to Britain. In the latter case, notwithstanding a decade of relative peace, there exists a society broadly divided along ethnosectarian lines. During the latter part of the 20th century, from 1969 to 1998, Northern Ireland was the site of conflict between Irish republican paramilitary groupings, principally the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British state forces over the country’s constitutional future. Some 2,087 civilians died as a result of the conflict, 910 members of the security forces (including the police and army) and 395 republican paramilitaries also lost their lives during a dark period in the country’s short history. Deep wounds remain to this day and reflect the fact that the majority Protestant and Unionist population in Northern Ireland has a set of political and cultural beliefs that reaffirm their attachment to Britain, while the minority Catholic and Nationalist community retains a constitutional and cultural position that aligns more closely with the rest of Ireland. Of course neither of these communities is an absolute monolith and, on both sides, a fair degree of moderation is apparent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSports around the World: History, Culture and Practice
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherABC-CLIO, LLC
ISBN (Print)9781598843019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2012


  • Sectarianism
  • Northern Ireland
  • Sport


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