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April 08, 2014 AT 12:35 PM
Relations between Britain and Ireland have experienced a century of rebellion, terror and treaties, culminating in this week's first-ever state visit by Ireland's president. More than 3,600 have died in four decades of bloodshed over Northern Ireland. The simmering conflict still boils over into rioting, triggered by disputes over the display of British and Irish symbols and traditional Protestant parades. Small IRA factions seek to shatter the fragile peace but their occasional attacks have little impact. Sinn Fein now seeks to unite Ireland by building support in both parts of the island. Polls show most Northern Ireland residents, including many Irish nationalists, would rather stay in the UK.