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Resource Page for Teachers


by Lynn and Bob Gillen
August 1998
St. Anthony Messenger

Curriculum Connections -

This classroom resource guide will support curriculum in:

    • Social Studies — conflict resolution among nations and states
    • History — Irish and British relations

Glossary of Basic Terms

Your students may find it helpful first to create a glossary of names and terms relating to this month’s article. Definitions can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the resource guide.

George J. Mitchell

the "Agreement"

"The Troubles"

Tony Blair

United Kingdom

Royal Ulster Constabulary

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Unionist

Bertie Ahern

"marching season"


Idea One — The History of Conflict

  1. Achieving a deeper understanding of the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland

For us living in the United States, our last experience of a great and violent internal conflict was the Civil War. For us it’s now a history lesson. Unfortunately, for many people around the world, including the citizens of Northern Ireland, violence and internal strife are a daily way of life. This month’s Resource Guide will offer your students an opportunity to learn more about what happens to nations, and to their inhabitants, when violence prevails.

 

Your students can search the major news services for online information on the peace agreement in Northern Ireland. They can also use these sites to find up-to-date information on the situation in Northern Ireland, such as the violence that occurred in July, during which three young boys were killed. One other good source for a detailed history of the difficulties in Northern Ireland is the CAIN Web Service (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk). Here you’ll find:

  • Geography of Ireland, including the six counties of Northern Ireland
  • Population and statistics
  • A list of key events from 1964 till now
  • Abstracts of the organizations involved in the conflict and in Irish politics

Statistics of interest will include: In Northern Ireland, 54% of the population is under 35 years of age; Catholics make up 47% of the total population, while Protestants and others constitute the remaining majority.

Many of the key events in Northern Irish history date from the emergence of a civil-rights campaign conducted from 1964 to 1972. Internment of citizens, the Ulster Workers’ Council strike and the hunger strikes of prisoners all led up to the beginnings of the peace process in 1988.

And for a description of Northern Ireland’s peaceful side, with tourist-related information, see http://www.interknowledge.com/northern-ireland/index.html. This is the site of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Efforts at peace continue to blossom like flowers in a war-torn field. In the town of Rossnowlagh, County Donegal, in northwest Ireland, there is a symbol of some residents’ strong desire for peace. They have initiated a Peace Cairn, a small but growing tower of stones. Individuals laying a stone on the cairn symbolize the laying down of a weapon. Ancient cairns have always been burial places. This Peace Cairn is a sign of the willingness and need to bury violence and hatred.

Do your students know of any local or regional symbols of peace, like the Cairn, that stand for hope in the midst of violence? Can they create a peace symbol of their own, relevant to their own needs and community?

  1. Achieving a broader understanding of conflict among nations and states
  2. The conflict in Northern Ireland is unfortunately but one of many conflicts that have occurred and are still going on in our world. Today organizations exist that attempt to study why conflict arises, and how it can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. One such group is INCORE, the Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity. Their Web site can be found at http://www.incore.ulst.ac.uk. This initiative is the joint effort of the University of Ulster and the United Nations University.

    The British government maintains a Web site that provides services such as identifying international trouble spots, threats to safety for those who travel on government or personal business. See http://www.fco.gov.uk for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

    The peace process in Northern Ireland has taken a long and arduous 10 years to reach this historic Agreement, but it is still only a beginning. This month’s article describes how many party leaders will still not shake hands or be seen together in the same room. Your students might like to search for parallels in the peace talks that have preceded historic peace treaties. The Vietnam Peace Talks took years to unfold. Peace efforts in the Middle East have been lengthy and difficult. Sometimes assassinations of political leaders occur as an obstacle to continuing peace talks, such as the killing of Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt. Or look at the ongoing struggles to bring peace to Bosnia following the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.

    Your students may find it interesting to note that sometimes pockets of resistance persist long after a peace settlement. After World War II, some Japanese soldiers on scattered Pacific islands continued to fight because they never received word of the peace or because they vowed to fight to the death, regardless of any peace accord. In the United States, strains of the Civil War can still be heard in pockets of the South. Some of your older students might enjoy reading Confederates in the Attic, journalist Tony Horwitz’s present-day tour through parts of the South still keeping elements of the Civil War alive. A war correspondent from Bosnia and other contemporary conflicts, Horwitz went to the South for a vacation, only to find the Civil War is still a reality in some towns and areas.

  3. Reviewing the Mitchell Peace Agreement

Ongoing news of the peace process will be found at the Web site of the Irish Voice (http://www.irishvoice.com).

For a text of the Agreement on Northern Ireland, published in the New York Times on April 11, 1998, see http://www.MtHolyoke.edu/acad/intrel/paxtext.htm.

Background and facts on the Agreement on Northern Ireland can be found at http://www.nio.gov.uk/issues.htm

Idea Two — Understanding an Individual’s Experience of Conflict and Resolution

A. Groups that work for peace

The summer "marching season" in Northern Ireland spawns violence every year. In Christianity Today magazine the article "The Kids are the Candles" (October 6, 1997) describes a peace program that sends Northern Irish teens to host families in the United States to take them away from the troubled summer months. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/7tb/7tb076.html.

Like many adults in our society today, large numbers of teenagers will respond to perceived threat or discomfort with violence. The recent tragic shootings in our schools are but one example of this trend. Groups have sprung up with the purpose of turning spontaneous violence into reasoned resolution.

For parallels to situations in American society, a helpful resource is a videocassette called "Kids in the Crossfire: Violence in America." Produced by ABC and featuring Peter Jennings, the video discusses violence among our children in school and at home.

For a documentation of steps toward conflict resolution, see the information available at http://www.benjerry.com/esr/index.html. Yes, that’s the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream folks, and they joined with ESR (Educators for Social Responsibility) of Cambridge, Massachusetts to form an alliance working for peace among families and schools. Their goal is, through a program called RCCP (Resolving Conflict Creatively Program), to make schools caring and violence-free. They offer resources and instruction in conflict resolution and intergroup relations.

In his book, The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution, by Dudley Weeks, you’ll see an outline of the eight steps and the "Conflict Partnership Process" advocated by Weeks. His goal is to build mutually beneficial relationships and to resolve conflict effectively. On the same site, the Conflict Resolution class at Quinebaug Valley Community-Technical College in Danielson, Connecticut, provides useful summaries of Weeks’ work.

B. Individuals who work for peace

Former Senator George Mitchell is certainly an individual peacemaker who makes a difference. Parallels can be drawn to major historical figures that dedicated their lives to peace. Your students can research individuals such as: Gandhi of India; Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement; Secretary of State George C. Marshall with his Marshall Plan following World War II; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Geneva Peace Accord to calm the Cold War between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.; or Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam, Nobel Prize winners for their efforts in ending the Vietnam War.

A gripping story of Irish individuals striving for peace in the midst of violence can be found in the Dallas Morning News, "Ordinary People Play Extraordinary Role, Moving Northern Ireland toward Peace," dated November 30, 1997.

Further Print Resources

Confederates in the Attic, Tony Horwitz, Pantheon, New York, 1998.

Further Online Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site's archives.

http://www.nytimes.com/ - The New York Times

http://www.latimes.com/ - Los Angeles Times

http://www.time.com/ - Time magazine

http://www.cnn.com/ - CNN

http://www.msnbc.com/ - MSNBC

http://www.pathfinder.com/ - This site will take you to a number of online publications.

http://wire.ap.org/ - The Associated Press

http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ - The Chicago Tribune

http://www.people.com/ - People magazine

http://www.washingtonpost.com/- The Washington Post

http://www.historychannel.com

http://www.herald.com/ - The Miami Herald

http://www.closeup.org/ - The Close Up Foundation



Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.


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