1963 - 1976
By the 1970s, Ireland was suffering poor living standards, growing unemployment and high Irish emigration to Britain and America. Sean Lemass, the new Taoiseach (Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland) brought great energy to Ireland in the 1960s. However events in Northern Ireland were to dominate the political scene in Ireland for the next thirty years.
British troops were brought in to restore order, but the conflict intensified as the IRA and Protestant paramilitary groups carried out bombings and other acts of terrorism. This continuing conflict, which lingered into the 1990s, became known as 'The Troubles’.
During a march in Londonerry (Derry) by Northern Irish Catholics protesting against internment (imprisonment without trial), the British army opened fire on the marchers, killing 13 demonstrators. Journalists captured the event on film and the world was outraged.
On January 1, 1974 this new government took office. The Unionists refused to recognise it and called on all Protestants to join a General Strike. By May, the new government collapsed and Direct Rule was restored.