What caused the Troubles in Ireland?
There are both short term and long term causes of the Troubles.
Was any one cause more important than another?
There are political, social and religious reasons going back a few hundred years that led up to the division, that would eventually surface to Catholic/Protestant aggression. The majority of the general population of southern Ireland was Catholic, whereas a separate social class, which had close ties to Britain, were typically Protestant, and had close connection to the Anglican church.
As relations between Ireland and Britain collapsed in the early 20th century, the Catholic population eventually became associated with the Republican movement, whereas Protestant interests were being represented by the Unionists. Early political initiatives like The Anglo-Irish Agreement 1921 – probably covered the cracks and served to motivate the ambitions of Republicans.
As the century went on, the focus would go from fighting the British, to fighting British support in Ireland, to the extent that Protestants became targets. This was especially a problem in Northern Ireland, where there was a strong Protestant population with closer ties to Britain.
By the 1950s, Éire had been created and talk of annexing – combining - Northern Ireland with the new Republic became a serious point of contention - and set the scene for the struggles and violence of the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, it became a staging ground for attacks between the two groups. Although religion was not the determining factor in the conflict between the people living in the region, it has a special significance as it was used as a marker to distinguish and discriminate between sections of the community.
Who bears responsibility for the past problems in Ireland?
It is very easy to lay the blame at the feet of the British for their centuries of colonisation, absentee landlords and greed. Others lay the blame on modern politicians and violent Irish republicans who they say caused unnecessary trouble.