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What is sometimes missing in these accounts is an acknowledgment of the complexity of social and political change in Ireland during this period. Although the relationship between the metropolitan centre and the colonised island of Ireland entailed various degrees of exploitation and oppression over the ensuing centuries, it would be too simple to describe these relationships as linear and one-dimensional. Plantation (a term which described the piece by piece colonization of the island in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) took place in different historical phases involving often contradictory social, economic and political factors. What emerged from these experiences are what Foster (1988) describes as ‘varieties of Irishness’ in which planter (colonizer) and gael (colonized), at various periods in history, both clashed and co-existed. It was, however, the particular character of the plantation in the province of Ulster in the northeast, which created the conditions for the sectarian violence and inter communal violence of the Troubles in the twentieth century (Bew et al 1995; McVeigh 1997).

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