Northern Ireland | Centennial of Parliament that for decades discriminated against Catholics

A ceremony will be held today at Belfast City Hall to mark the 100th anniversary of the first session of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

The original session, held in 1921, marked the formal division of Ireland by the British Empire to appease loyal Protestant unionists, but was, for many decades, strongly resisted by Irish Catholic nationalists, who subsequently suffered housing discrimination. , employment and education.

Ken Murray reports from Belfast: “This is Belfast City Hall. It was here that on June 22, 1921 the controversial Parliament of Northern Ireland met for the first time after the British Government divided the island of Ireland.”

The so-called “Protestant Parliament for the Protestant people” discriminated against Irish Catholics.

Noel Doran, editor of The Irish News states: “We would have to look back, and it is up to historians, and find out what was done wrong. There should have been a massive integration effort, to promote rights and respect. , which simply did not happen. The Parliament of Stormont, as you say, for 50 years, it was based entirely on the government of the Unionists. “

In 1932 Parliament moved to the impressive Stormont Building on the outskirts of Belfast.

But despite the grandeur of the new headquarters, the decisions made here contributed to the deliberate and repeated discrimination of Northern Irish Catholics.

In the late 1960s, those same Catholic supporters of Irish unity couldn’t hold out any longer and war broke out. It lasted more than 25 years and cost about 3,500 lives.

With the major demographic changes taking place in Northern Ireland, the question now is: how long can this Parliament last in its current form?

Professor and historian Paul Bew analyzes this question.

“The truth is that it is quite certain, the partition will persist in any case in the next few years, but afterwards, partly because we do not know what is going to happen with Scotland there is a higher level of uncertainty. There is really no short-term crisis here. and an Irish government recovering from Covid is not going to take on the wonderful people of Northern Ireland with all the problems that come with it. “

Our correspondent Ken Murray concludes from Stormont.

“The Parliament of Northern Ireland has had numerous interruptions since 1921, with many doubts as to whether or not it has served the people here. However, with the number of Irish Catholics expected to exceed that of British Protestants in the next years, and with the probability of a unification referendum being promoted, it is most likely that this parliament will not celebrate its bicentennial in 100 years. Only time will tell. “