One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A province of the United Kingdom that occupies the northeastern part of Ireland, comprised of six counties of Ulster; population 1,775,000 (est. 2008); capital, Belfast.
Northern Ireland was established as a self-governing province in 1920, after refusing to be part of the Irish Free State. Domination by the Protestant majority and discrimination against the Roman Catholic minority led to violent conflicts and, from 1969, British army units were present in an attempt to keep the peace. Terrorism and sectarian violence by the Provisional IRA and other paramilitary groups, both Republican and Loyalist, resulted in the imposition of direct rule from London in 1972. Multiparty talks begun in 1996 led to an agreement between most political parties in 1998. In 1999, a devolved parliament was inaugurated, with representation from both Nationalist and Unionist groups. British troops left the province in 2007
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