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The Two Irelands: The problem of the double minority

31 January 1971

Although they live side by side, the people of Ireland have been tragically divided.

From the impoverished ghettos of the bleak housing estates to the quiet, middle-class suburbs; from the widespread unemployment of the cities to the unspoiled beauty of the countryside in both the Republic and the North; from the heights of Stormont to the grimness of the H-Blocks; from Catholics to Protestants; from Republicans to Unionists – the divisions are deep and the conflicts, seemingly, never-ending.

Yet are the warring camps so different? Both are divided internally and yet can unite against an outside. Both look to history to justify present conflicts. Both rely on the continued existence of the other to provide a focus for their own cause. What does the future have to offer for both sides?

The Two Irelands is already a classic and is widely praised for its impartiality. Now with a 4-page update, it examines the background to the two communities, their hopes and fears, actions and reactions, their images of themselves and each other. Written by Harold Jackson and Anne McHardy, both former Guardian correspondents in Northern Ireland, it is not only being used in schools and colleges on both sides of the conflict, but is a much-needed education resource for people everywhere.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

Download (PDF, English)


Harold Jackson

Anne McHardy