Conflict in Catholic and Protestant Christian communities erupted once again in Ireland. A 1998 peace deal ended large-scale violence but did not resolve Northern Ireland's deep-rooted tensions.
About 100 years ago, twenty-six of 32 counties of Ireland became an independent Roman Catholic-majority country. Six counties in the north, which have a Protestant majority, stayed British.
However, Northern Ireland's Catholic minority experienced discrimination in jobs, housing and other areas in the Protestant-run State. Some people on both the Catholic and Protestant sides formed armed groups that escalated the violence with bombings and shootings. During the last three decades of conflict more than 3,600 people, a majority of them civilians were killed in bombings and shootings.
The 1998 Good Friday accord saw the paramilitaries lay down their arms and established a Catholic-Protestant power-sharing Government for Northern Ireland. However, the power-sharing arrangement has had periods of success and failure.
Now the violence has been largely in Protestant areas in and around Belfast and Northern Ireland's second city, Londonderry, although the disturbances have spread to Catholic neighborhoods.