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Northern Ireland’s sombre centenary

Violence has largely subsided in the last 30 years—but, like Tory cynics of an earlier age, Johnson is willing to risk reigniting it

By Andrew Adonis  

An Irish nationalist cartoon of Britannia standing between Gladstone's offer of home rule and Lord Salisbury's offer of "perpetual coercion." Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

This week’s sombre centenary of Northern Ireland cannot be understood apart from the civil strife before and after its creation in 1921—five years on from the bloody Easter Rising in Dublin, and a year before the rest of Ireland became independent amid the brutal “black and tans” war with the British army.

The disintegration and horrific violence of the 1920s happened because Gladstone’s devolution plan for Ireland as a whole was rejected by Lord Salisbury’s sectarian, imperialist Tories 35 years before. This history is important because, to this day, it underpins Northern Ireland’s sectarian divisions. Over the last…

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