Northern Ireland - Homes attacked in Newtownards housing estate

Northern Ireland is a constituent nation of the United Kingdom situated in the northeastern part of the island of Ireland. It has an area of approximately 14,000 square kilometers (5,400 square miles) and a population of around 1.9 million people. The region is defined by its complex political and religious history, which has shaped its social and cultural identity.


The history of Northern Ireland is complex and multifaceted, but it is often characterized by intercommunity tensions and violence. The region’s modern political history can be traced back to the early 20th century, when the British government passed the Government of Ireland Act in 1920, which divided Ireland into two distinct political entities—Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Act created a devolved government for Northern Ireland with its own parliament and prime minister. It was initially dominated by the Protestant majority, who were determined to maintain their position of power and influence over the Catholic minority. Discrimination against Catholics in areas such as employment, housing, and education continued throughout the 20th century, leading to political unrest and violence.

In 1969, tensions between the two communities erupted into violence, which marked the beginning of a period known as “The Troubles”. Over the following decades, Northern Ireland was plagued by sectarian violence and terrorism, with groups such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and loyalist paramilitaries carrying out bombings, shootings, and other attacks. The violence led to the deaths of thousands of people, the majority of whom were civilians.

In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed, bringing an end to The Troubles. The Agreement established a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, which was designed to ensure that both the Protestant and Catholic communities were represented in government. The Northern Ireland Assembly was established, and the main political parties entered into a coalition government.


Northern Ireland has a complex political system, which reflects the divisions and tensions that exist within its society. The region is part of the United Kingdom, and its government is led by the Northern Ireland Executive, which is made up of ministers from both the Protestant and Catholic communities.

The Executive has responsibility for a range of issues, including health, education, and economic development. It is accountable to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which consists of 90 members elected by a system of proportional representation.

The main political parties in Northern Ireland are divided along religious lines. The two largest parties are the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is predominantly Protestant, and Sinn Fein, which is predominantly Catholic. Other parties include the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.


Northern Ireland has a population of approximately 1.9 million people, with a relatively even split between Protestants and Catholics. Around 45% of the population identifies as Protestant, while approximately 40% identifies as Catholic.

In recent years, there has been a growing number of people who do not identify with either religion. This group accounts for around 15% of the population and includes those who are of other religions or none at all.


Northern Ireland has a relatively small economy, which is heavily dependent on the service sector. The region has a large public sector, which provides around 30% of all jobs. Other significant industries include manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace and automotive sectors, and tourism, which is buoyed by the region’s natural beauty and cultural attractions.

Despite a long history of violence and instability, Northern Ireland has made significant progress in recent years in terms of economic development. Unemployment rates have fallen, and there has been a significant increase in foreign investment.


Northern Ireland has a rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its music, literature, and art. The region has a strong folk music tradition, with artists such as Van Morrison, The Chieftains, and Christy Moore among the most well known. Literature has also played a significant role in Northern Ireland’s cultural identity, with writers such as Seamus Heaney, C.S. Lewis, and Samuel Beckett among its most celebrated figures.

Northern Ireland is also known for its distinctive cuisine, which combines traditional Irish and British dishes with its own unique twists. Some popular Northern Irish dishes include Ulster Fry, Champ, and Soda Bread.


Northern Ireland is a region with a complex and often turbulent history, which has shaped its social and cultural identity. Despite this, the region has made significant progress in recent years, and there is hope that the peace and stability that have been achieved since the Good Friday agreement will continue to foster economic and social development.

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Tory MPs criticise Kemi Badenoch for climbdown over EU law bill

Financial Times

23-05-11 18:19

UK business and conservation groups have welcomed plans by business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch to retain more than 2,500 EU-derived regulations in UK law beyond December, however, Tory Brexiters have reacted furiously. Former Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg questioned whether the scaled back directive to revoke EU laws from the statute book had resulted from “civil service idleness or a lack of ministerial drive?” Conservative MPs also criticised Badenoch for announcing the move in a newspaper article with a written statement, rather than via an oral statement as requested by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Suspicious object sparks north Belfast security alert


23-05-11 16:34

A suspected object is being investigated in north Belfast as police declared a security alert near Willowbank Gardens. The Antrim Road has been closed as police asked locals to avoid the area.
Michelle O’Neill reiterates plea to DUP to return to Stormont Assembly

The Independent

23-05-11 16:14

Michelle O'Neill, deputy leader of Sinn Fein, has repeated her call for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to return to the Stormont Assembly. The DUP has boycotted devolved government for the past year, urging the UK government to tackle its worries over the Brexit agreement’s Northern Ireland Protocol. Sinn Fein emerged last year as the largest party at Stormont. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has called for unionist cooperation ahead of next week’s council elections against “opponents of the union”. He has also said his party will “stand firm after this election until we have properly secured and protected our place within the United Kingdom”.
Ex-lord chief justice of Northern Ireland appointed to chair truth recovery body

The Independent

23-05-11 15:15

The former lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, Sir Declan Morgan, has been selected to lead the truth recovery body to which the British government is hoping to delegate Northern Ireland’s past. Part of the British government’s legacy Bill, which has recently been passed by the House of Commons and is now being debated in the House of Lords, the truth recovery commission would offer a form of amnesty to perpetrators of crimes committed during the Troubles in exchange for co-operation with the commission. However, the Bill is widely opposed by both Northern Ireland’s political parties and victims’ organisations.
Unregulated weight-loss jabs pose 'health risk'


23-05-11 15:12

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has warned of possible health risks to those buying weight-loss injections from unregulated sources, including online sellers. The department cited growing demand for the injections and said they may not be subject to normal safety controls and should ideally be prescribed by a medical practitioner. An investigation by the department’s medicines regulatory group into fake injected weight loss pens is ongoing and officials have seized several counterfeit items.
NI job market starting to weaken, data suggests


23-05-16 07:59

Unemployment in Northern Ireland rose to 3.9%, the highest rate since March 2022, in April, according to data from HMRC that also showed the number of people on company payrolls fell 0.6% to just under 786,000. Even so, Northern Ireland's job market has had a sustained period of recovery since the pandemic and largely made up lost ground. Business surveys indicate many businesses have had trouble recruiting staff, however, some economists are predicting the labour market will weaken this year as continued high inflation and rising interest rates hit demand in some parts of the economy.
University physiotherapy training places being cut


23-05-16 07:48

Ulster University is reportedly facing cuts to degree courses in physiotherapy and other health specialties due to governmental spending reductions, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in Northern Ireland. It is understood that training places will be decreased following a Department of Health budget briefing. Approximately 12% of physiotherapy positions are currently vacant. The Northern Ireland Royal College of Nursing director, Rita Devlin, has voiced dismay at last year's reduction in student nursing places and this year’s cuts to undergraduate training in healthcare.
Who will rise and fall at the council elections?


23-05-16 06:15

With low voter turnout expected in Northern Ireland's council elections, Sinn Féin looks set to make gains after a decline in support in 2019 but difficulty forming councils due to their falling short of seats. Running fewer candidates than in 2019, the Democratic Unionist Party's (DUP) efforts have been aimed at saving seats instead of winning new ones. Campaigning around resolving uncertainties around Brexit-related dual-customs arrangements, the DUP's ability to secure transfers from other unionist parties remains to be seen. The Alliance Party, having claimed 21 more seats in 2019, is looking to modestly increase its count and supplant the Ulster Unionist Party as the third-largest party in the 11 councils. The Social Democratic and Labour Party is expected to shrink, potentially losing some of its 59 seats. The Green Party leader is facing a seat-loss vote in Belfast, which would make him the second leader of the party to be sacked in a year.
How much do you splash out for a swim in the pool?


23-05-16 05:36

The cost of public swimming facilities in Northern Ireland varies based on council area, according to a BBC investigation. Derry City and Strabane Council was the cheapest, charging £2.50 a session during peak hours. Ards and North Down had the highest rate. Most councils offer package deals offering discounts on entry to other leisure centres. The news outlet contacted all 11 local councils ahead of recent elections to request information on pricing. Belfast offered the highest charges for some sports facilities, with a badminton court for four players costing £26.40, compared with a fee of £6 in neighbouring Lisburn and Castlereagh. An expert said cost should not stand in the way of learning to swim and that quality facilities should be available to all.
Cleverly to face Windsor Framework questions


23-05-16 05:22

The UK's Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, is set to face questions from a House of Lords committee about the Windsor Framework, the post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland agreed by the UK and EU earlier this year. The Windsor Framework amends the Northern Ireland Protocol to ease trade flows between Britain and Northern Ireland. The committee has heard criticism from business groups about the lack of clarity on key operational details of the framework, and Cleverly is expected to be questioned on issues concerning parcel deliveries and plants. Cleverly is the final witness in an inquiry by the Lords Northern Ireland Protocol Committee.
Live: James Cleverly gives evidence on post-Brexit trade rules for NI

The Independent

23-05-16 10:36

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is set to give evidence to a House of Lords committee on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland. The session will cover the Windsor Framework, under which goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will go through a “green lane” while those heading for the EU will use a “red lane”. Cleverly will also be asked about the Stormont brake, which gives Northern Ireland’s assembly the power to object to changes to EU rules that apply in the region. The hearing follows complaints that citizens and businesses do not understand the framework’s details.
English pupils overtake Poland to come fourth in world literacy rankings


23-05-16 10:34

Primary school children in England have overtaken Finland and Poland to become the fourth-most literate in the world, outranked only by Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia, according to the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. England’s score of 558 was above the international average of 520 and was attributed to the focus on phonics as a teaching method. Among the 43 countries tested, only 11, including England, did not show a significant drop in scores since 2016. The gender gap in England has also narrowed, with girls outperforming boys in most countries.
Tory MP attacks ‘sugar-free conservatism’ and ‘overwhelming population growth’

The Independent

23-05-16 10:12

Senior Conservative MP Sir John Hayes has called for the party to abandon “sugar-free conservatism” defined by “lonely individualism and selfish materialism” and instead embrace an “authentic” form of the doctrine. Addressing the National Conservatism conference in Westminster, Hayes warned of a “widening chasm between the people of Britain and the elite who profess to serve them” and called for increased conservatism to deal with issues including the threat to public services posed by “overwhelming” population growth. Hayes chairs the “anti-woke” Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs and is a key ally of former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
‘Not for EU’ food labelling to be phased in from autumn, says Cleverly

The Independent

23-05-16 14:53

UK food products will gradually see "Not for EU" labels phased in this autumn as part of the UK's agreement with the EU to reduce checks on British products entering Northern Ireland. The labels are part of the Windsor Framework, signed earlier this year to solve trading issues between Northern Ireland and Great Britain which arose because of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly informed the House of Lords Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Sub-Committee legislators that during negotiations, retailers identified UK-wide labeling as their preferred option.
Man claims ignorance of chanting in McAreavey video


23-05-16 19:45

The former employer of lorry driver Andrew McDade has dismissed his legal challenge after livestreaming footage of a Twelfth of July event featuring comments several thought were offensive to the McAreavey family. Mrs McAreavey was killed while on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011. McDade was attending a function at Dundonald Orange Hall when he filmed footage of singing. The chant appeared to mock the daughter of the former Tyrone senior Gaelic footballer manager, Mickey Harte. McDade was previously employed by the Norman Emerson Group who became linked to the video because McDade’s profile included its name.
UK and EU agree to collaborate over cross-Channel migration

Financial Times

23-05-16 22:19

The UK and the EU are to work together to combat smugglers and prevent irregular migration across the English Channel. The deal will involve exchanging intelligence, expertise, and personnel and will mean London will work with Frontex - the EU border agency. The UK's Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, have both endorsed the agreement after six months of deadlock. The move follows weeks of pressure on Sunak from senior Tory MPs to tackle migrant crossings after bruising local election results.
Older people fear isolation due to 'unfair' cuts


23-05-17 05:36

Older people living in sheltered accommodation are fearful that "unfair" cuts to support services will damage their mental and physical wellbeing. Cuts to the Supporting People scheme – which provides services to about 19,000 people in Northern Ireland, including 8,000 older people – would mean fewer morning check calls and fewer social activities for residents. The programme also funds scheme co-ordinators and out-of-hours telephone services offering emergency help when required. Cameron Watt, chief executive of Alpha Housing, which runs the scheme, said that cuts could result in reduced services for some of Northern Ireland's "oldest and most vulnerable citizens".
Schools face 50% cut in shared education funding


23-05-17 05:29

The Northern Ireland Education Authority has informed schools that funding for the shared education programme will be cut by half from this September. Around 700 schools and preschools have received funding to participate in shared education partnerships with the aim of bringing together pupils from different religious and social backgrounds. The funding for these projects covered resources, school transport and other activities. The Department of Education (DE) has confirmed it will have no funding available for the scheme beyond April 2024. The DE has previously cut funding for other programmes aimed at helping disadvantaged pupils in order to save money.
What do Northern Ireland's councils actually do?


23-05-17 05:27

Residents in Northern Ireland will elect 462 councillors on Thursday with powers over areas including leisure services, planning and arts, heritage and cultural facilities. Councils have the authority to accept or reject most proposed developments and have leadership responsibility for community planning, which links together council statutory, government and community partners to improve local area's social, economic and environmental wellbeing. An increased role in public spending and decision-making could be in the offing with the development of Northern Ireland's Belfast region, Derry and Strabane city deals and Mid South West "economic engine."