Fighting for Ireland?: The Military Strategy of the Irish Republican Movement

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Return to Book Page. Preview — Fighting for Ireland? Fighting for Ireland? It is highly topical in the light of the faltering peace process and the growing speculation over the IRA's next move: further violence or a new non-violent strategy? This new, updated paperback edition is essential reading for those who wish to disentangle the complex issues Fighting for Ireland? This new, updated paperback edition is essential reading for those who wish to disentangle the complex issues and motives behind IRA violence. Smith challenges many assumptions about the IRA, pinpointing the organisation's successes as well as its missed opportunities.

He demonstrates the tension the movement has experienced between ideology and strategic reality regarding the use of force, illustrating how doctrinal purity has sometimes hampered the IRA in the pursuit of its goals. Contrary to the Irish Republican movement's vigorous and assertive public face Smith uncovers an organisation characterised more by a sense of chronic insecurity than by certainty and continuity. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.

Published August 14th by Routledge first published September 7th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 9. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Fighting for Ireland? Be the first to ask a question about Fighting for Ireland? Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 09, Mike rated it it was ok. The book was filled with a lot of info about "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Most books cover just the IRA and not much mention goes to the other separatist groups. Unfortunately the book was very dry in the way the information was presented. Also the authors' bias towards the British side of the conflict was vary apparent. View 1 comment. Oct 19, Brian rated it did not like it.

The history of the Irish resistance to british imperialism from the point of view of the oppressor. Composed completely of unconscious racism, religious hatred, and bigotry. But a must read if you want to know why the IRA had to come into existence. Timothy Wattigny rated it it was ok Aug 02, Counterinsurgent rated it really liked it Aug 17, Mirza Sultan-Galiev rated it liked it Nov 16, Nina rated it it was amazing Oct 07, Tim Myers rated it really liked it Feb 23, The outbreak of the First World War in , and Ireland's involvement in the war , temporarily averted possible civil war in Ireland and delayed the resolution of the question of Irish independence.

Home Rule, although passed in the British Parliament with Royal Assent , was suspended for the duration of the war. The Irish Volunteers split, with a majority, known as the National Volunteers , supporting the war effort, and some of them joining Irish regiments of the New British Army. Many of those who stayed were radical nationalists, among them Irish Republican Brotherhood infiltrators. Their victory was aided by the threat of conscription for First World War service.

The Irish War for Independence followed, leading to eventual independence in for the Irish Free State , which comprised 26 of the 32 Irish counties. The Government of Ireland Act partitioned the island of Ireland into two separate jurisdictions, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, both devolved regions of the United Kingdom.


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This partition of Ireland was confirmed when the Parliament of Northern Ireland exercised its right in December under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of to "opt out" of the newly established Irish Free State. After the Irish Civil War of —, this part of the treaty was given less priority by the new Dublin government led by W. Cosgrave , and was quietly dropped.

As counties Fermanagh and Tyrone and border areas of Londonderry , Armagh , and Down were mainly nationalist, the Irish Boundary Commission could reduce Northern Ireland to four counties or less. Northern Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom, albeit under a separate system of government whereby it was given its own parliament and devolved government. While this arrangement met the desires of unionists to remain part of the United Kingdom, nationalists largely viewed the partition of Ireland as an illegal and arbitrary division of the island against the will of the majority of its people.

They argued that the Northern Ireland state was neither legitimate nor democratic, but created with a deliberately gerrymandered unionist majority. This would come to have a major impact on Northern Ireland. Although the IRA was proscribed on both sides of the new Irish border , it remained ideologically committed to overthrowing both the Northern Ireland and the Free State governments by force of arms to unify Ireland.

The government of Northern Ireland passed the Special Powers Act in , giving sweeping powers to the government and police to intern suspects without trial and to administer corporal punishment such as flogging to re-establish or preserve law and order. The Act continued to be used against nationalists long after the violence of this period had come to an end. In response, in the new unionist government re-drew the electoral boundaries to give its supporters a majority and abolished proportional representation in favour of first past the post voting.

This resulted in unionist control of areas such as Derry City, Fermanagh, and Tyrone where they were actually a minority of voters. The two sides' positions became strictly defined following this period. From a unionist perspective, Northern Ireland's nationalists were inherently disloyal and determined to force unionists into a united Ireland.

This threat was seen as justifying preferential treatment of unionists in housing, employment and other fields. The prevalence of larger families and thus the potential for a more rapid population growth among Catholics was seen as a threat. Unionist governments ignored Edward Carson 's warning in that alienating Catholics would make Northern Ireland inherently unstable.

After the early s, there were occasional incidents of sectarian unrest in Northern Ireland. These included severe rioting in Belfast in the s and s, and the IRA's brief Northern Campaign in the s and Border Campaign between and , which did not enjoy broad popular support among nationalists. After the IRA called off its campaign in , Northern Ireland became relatively stable for a brief period. There is little agreement on the exact date of the start of the Troubles. Different writers have suggested different dates.

These include the formation of the modern Ulster Volunteer Force in , [62] the civil rights march in Derry on 5 October , the beginning of the ' Battle of the Bogside ' on 12 August or the deployment of British troops on 14 August At the time, the IRA was weak and not engaged in armed action, but some unionists warned it was about to be revived to launch another campaign against Northern Ireland.

Although O'Neill was a unionist, they viewed him as being too 'soft' on the civil rights movement and opposed his policies. It was led by Gusty Spence , a former British soldier. A firebomb killed an elderly Protestant widow, Matilda Gould. A month later it shot three Catholic civilians as they left a pub, killing a young Catholic from the Republic, Peter Ward. In the mids, a non-violent civil rights campaign began in Northern Ireland.

Although republicans and some members of the IRA then led by Cathal Goulding and pursuing a non-violent agenda helped to create and drive the movement, they did not control it and were not a dominant faction within it. On 20 June , civil rights activists including Austin Currie , a nationalist MP protested against housing discrimination by squatting in a house in Caledon. The local council had allocated the house to an unmarried year-old Protestant Emily Beattie, the secretary of a local UUP politician instead of either of two large Catholic families with children.

The incident invigorated the civil rights movement. On 24 August , the civil rights movement held its first civil rights march, from Coalisland to Dungannon. Many more marches were held over the following year. Loyalists especially members of the UPV attacked some of the marches and held counter-demonstrations in a bid to get the marches banned.

More than people were injured, including a number of nationalist politicians. A few days later, a student civil rights group, People's Democracy , was formed in Belfast. On 1 January , People's Democracy began a four-day march from Belfast to Derry, which was repeatedly harassed and attacked by loyalists. At Burntollet Bridge the marchers were attacked by about loyalists, including some off-duty police officers, armed with iron bars, bricks and bottles in a planned ambush.

When the march reached Derry City it was again attacked. The marchers claimed that police did nothing to protect them and that some officers helped the attackers. In March and April , loyalists bombed water and electricity installations in Northern Ireland, blaming them on the dormant IRA and elements of the civil rights movement. Some attacks left much of Belfast without power and water.

Loyalists hoped the bombings would force O'Neill to resign and bring an end to any concessions to nationalists. RUC officers entered the house of Samuel Devenny 42 , an uninvolved Catholic civilian, and ferociously beat him along with two of his teenage daughters and a family friend. He died of his injuries the next day. On 12 August, the loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry were allowed to march along the edge of the Bogside. Taunts and missiles were exchanged between the loyalists and nationalist residents.

After being bombarded with stones and petrol bombs from nationalists, the RUC, backed by loyalists, tried to storm the Bogside. The RUC used CS gas , armoured vehicles and water cannons, but were kept at bay by hundreds of nationalists. In Belfast, loyalists responded by invading nationalist districts, burning houses and businesses.

There were gun battles between nationalists and the RUC, and between nationalists and loyalists. A group of about 30 IRA members was involved in the fighting in Belfast. The Shorlands twice opened fire on a block of flats in a nationalist district, killing a nine-year-old boy, Patrick Rooney.

During the riots, on 13 August, Taoiseach Jack Lynch made a television address. He condemned the RUC and said that the Irish Government "can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse". He called for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed and said that Irish Army field hospitals were being set up at the border in County Donegal near Derry.

Lynch added that Irish re-unification would be the only permanent solution. Some interpreted the speech as a threat of military intervention. The plan, Exercise Armageddon , was rejected and remained classified for thirty years. On 14—15 August, British troops were deployed in Derry and Belfast to restore order, [91] but did not try to enter the Bogside, bringing a temporary end to the riots.

A peace line was to be established to separate physically the Falls and the Shankill communities. Initially this would take the form of a temporary barbed wire fence which would be manned by the Army and the Police It was agreed that there should be no question of the peace line becoming permanent although it was acknowledged that the barriers might have to be strengthened in some locations.

On 10 September the British Army started construction of the first "peace wall". It published its report on 12 October, recommending that the RUC become an unarmed force and the B Specials be disbanded. That night, loyalists took to the streets of Belfast in protest at the report. He was the first RUC officer to be killed during the Troubles. Despite the British government's attempt to do "nothing that would suggest partiality to one section of the community" and the improvement of the relationship between the Army and the local population following the Army assistance with flood relief in August , the Falls Curfew and a situation that was described at the time as "an inflamed sectarian one, which is being deliberately exploited by the IRA and other extremists" meant that relations between the Catholic population and the British Army rapidly deteriorated.

From through an explosion of political violence occurred in Northern Ireland. The violence peaked in , when nearly people, just over half of them civilians, lost their lives, the worst year in the entire conflict. By the end of , 29 barricades were in place in Derry , blocking access to what was known as Free Derry ; 16 of these were impassable even to the British Army's one-ton armoured vehicles.

There are several reasons offered for why violence escalated in these years.

History of the IRA | The Wild Will Project

The new IRA was willing to take on the role of "defenders of the Catholic community", [] rather than seeking working-class ecumenical unity across both communities. Nationalists point to a number of events in these years to explain the upsurge in violence. One such incident was the Falls Curfew in July , when 3, troops imposed a curfew on the nationalist Lower Falls area of Belfast, firing more than 1, rounds of ammunition in gun battles with the Official IRA, and killing four people. Another was the introduction of internment without trial in of initial detainees, none were Protestants.

A third event, " Bloody Sunday ", was the shooting dead of thirteen unarmed male civilians by the British Army at a proscribed anti-internment rally in Derry on 30 January a fourteenth man died of his injuries some months later while more than fourteen [ quantify ] other civilians were wounded. The soldiers involved were members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment , also known as "1 Para".

This was one of the most prominent events that occurred during the Northern Irish Conflict as it was recorded as the largest number of civilians killed in a single shooting incident during the Troubles, though more were killed overall in the Omagh bombing incident. Bloody Sunday greatly increased the hostility of Catholics and Irish nationalists towards the British military and government while significantly elevating tensions during the Northern Irish Conflict. As a result, the Provisional Irish Republican Army IRA gained more support, especially through rising numbers of recruits in the local areas.

Following the introduction of internment there were numerous gun battles between the British army and both the Provisional and Official IRA. The Provisional IRA, or "Provos", as they became known, sought to establish itself as the defender of the nationalist community.


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  • In , the Provisional IRA killed approximately members of the security forces, wounded others, and carried out approximately 1, bombings, [] mostly against commercial targets which they considered "the artificial economy". Despite a temporary ceasefire in and talks with British officials, the Provisionals were determined to continue their campaign until the achievement of a united Ireland.

    The UK government in London, believing the Northern Ireland administration incapable of containing the security situation, sought to take over the control of law and order there. As this was unacceptable to the Northern Ireland Government, the British government pushed through emergency legislation the Northern Ireland Temporary Provisions Act which suspended the unionist-controlled Stormont parliament and government, and introduced " direct rule " from London.

    Direct rule was initially intended as a short-term measure; the medium-term strategy was to restore self-government to Northern Ireland on a basis that was acceptable to both unionists and nationalists. Agreement proved elusive, however, and the Troubles continued throughout the s, s, and the s within a context of political deadlock. The existence of "no-go areas" in Belfast and Derry was a challenge to the authority of the British government in Northern Ireland, and the British Army demolished the barricades and re-established control over the areas in Operation Motorman on 31 July In June , following the publication of a British White Paper and a referendum in March on the status of Northern Ireland, a new parliamentary body, the Northern Ireland Assembly , was established.

    Elections to this were held on 28 June. In October , mainstream nationalist and unionist parties, along with the British and Irish governments, negotiated the Sunningdale Agreement , which was intended to produce a political settlement within Northern Ireland, but with a so-called "Irish dimension" involving the Republic.

    The agreement provided for "power-sharing" — the creation of an executive containing both unionists and nationalists—and a "Council of Ireland" — a body made up of ministers from Northern Ireland and the Republic, designed to encourage cross-border co-operation. The similarities between the Sunningdale Agreement and the Belfast Agreement of has led some commentators to characterise the latter as "Sunningdale for slow learners". Unionists were split over Sunningdale, which was also opposed by the IRA, whose goal remained nothing short of an end to the existence of Northern Ireland as part of the UK.

    Many unionists opposed the concept of power-sharing, arguing that it was not feasible to share power with those nationalists who sought the destruction of the state. Perhaps more significant, however, was the unionist opposition to the "Irish dimension" and the Council of Ireland, which was perceived as being an all-Ireland parliament-in-waiting.

    Remarks by a young SDLP councillor, Hugh Logue , to an audience at Trinity College Dublin that Sunningdale was the tool "by which the Unionists will be trundled off to a united Ireland" also damaged chances of significant unionist support for the agreement. Ultimately, however, the Sunningdale Agreement was brought down by mass action on the part of loyalist paramilitaries primarily the Ulster Defence Association, at that time over 20, strong [ citation needed ] and workers, who formed the Ulster Workers' Council.

    They organised a general strike , the Ulster Workers' Council strike. This severely curtailed business in Northern Ireland and cut off essential services such as water and electricity. Nationalists argue that the British Government did not do enough to break this strike and uphold the Sunningdale initiative.

    There is evidence that the strike was further encouraged by MI5 , a part of their campaign to 'disorientate' British prime minister Harold Wilson 's government. Three days into the UWC strike, on 17 May , two UVF teams from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster brigades [67] detonated three no-warning car bombs in Dublin's city centre during the Friday evening rush hour, resulting in 26 deaths and close to injuries.

    Ninety minutes later, a fourth car bomb exploded in Monaghan , killing seven additional people.

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    Nobody has ever been convicted for these attacks, [53] [] with the bombings being the deadliest attack in the Troubles' history. Harold Wilson had secretly met with the IRA in while leader of the opposition; his government in late and early again met with the IRA to negotiate a ceasefire. During the meetings the parties discussed the possibility of British withdrawal from an independent Northern Ireland.

    The failure of Sunningdale led to the serious consideration in London until November of independence. Had the withdrawal occurred — which Wilson supported but others, including James Callaghan , opposed — the region would have become a separate Dominion of the British Commonwealth. The British negotiations with an illegal organisation angered the Irish government.

    It did not know their proceedings but feared that the British were considering abandoning Northern Ireland. Foreign Minister Garret FitzGerald discussed in a memorandum of June the possibilities of orderly withdrawal and independence, repartition of the island or a collapse of Northern Ireland into civil war and anarchy. The memorandum preferred a negotiated independence as the best of the three "worst case scenarios", but concluded that the Irish government could do little. It believed that it could not enlarge the country's small army of 12, men without negative consequences.

    A civil war in Northern Ireland would cause many deaths there and severe consequences for the Republic, as the public would demand that it intervene to protect nationalists. FitzGerald warned Callaghan that the failure to intervene, despite Ireland's inability to do so, would "threaten democratic government in the Republic", which in turn jeopardised British and European security against Communist and other foreign nations. The Irish government so dreaded the consequences of an independent Northern Ireland that FitzGerald refused to ask the British not to withdraw—as he feared that openly discussing the issue could permit the British to proceed—and other members of government opposed the Irish Cabinet even discussing what FitzGerald referred to as a "doomsday scenario".

    He wrote in that "Neither then nor since has public opinion in Ireland realised how close to disaster our whole island came during the last two years of Harold Wilson's premiership. In December, one month after the Birmingham pub bombings which killed 21 people, the IRA declared a ceasefire; this would theoretically last throughout most of the following year.

    The ceasefire notwithstanding, sectarian killings actually escalated in , along with internal feuding between rival paramilitary groups. This made one of the "bloodiest years of the conflict". Three of the bandmembers, two Catholics and a Protestant, were shot dead, while two of the UVF men were killed when the bomb they had loaded onto the band's minibus detonated prematurely. The following January, eleven Protestant workers were gunned down in Kingsmill, South Armagh after having been ordered off their bus by an armed republican gang, which called itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force.

    One man survived despite being shot 18 times, leaving ten fatalities. These killings were reportedly in retaliation to a loyalist double shooting attack against the Reavey and O'Dowd families the previous night. The violence continued through the rest of the s.

    The British Government reinstated the ban against the UVF in October , making it once more an illegal organisation. When the Provisional IRA's December ceasefire had ended in early and it had returned to violence, it had lost the hope that it had felt in the early s that it could force a rapid British withdrawal from Northern Ireland, and instead developed a strategy known as the "Long War", which involved a less intense but more sustained campaign of violence that could continue indefinitely.

    The Official IRA ceasefire of , however, became permanent, and the "Official" movement eventually evolved into the Workers' Party , which rejected violence completely. However, a splinter from the "Officials"—the Irish National Liberation Army —continued a campaign of violence in By the late s, war-weariness was visible in both communities.

    One sign of this was the formation of a group known as " Peace People ", which won the Nobel Peace Prize in The Peace People organised large demonstrations calling for an end to paramilitary violence. Their campaign lost momentum, however, after they appealed to the nationalist community to provide information on the IRA to security forces. The decade ended with a double attack by the IRA against the British.

    On 27 August , Lord Mountbatten while on holiday in Mullaghmore, County Sligo , was killed by a bomb planted on board his boat. Three other people were also killed: Lady Brabourne, the elderly mother of Mountbatten's son-in-law; and two teenagers, a grandson of Mountbatten and a local boatman. Successive British Governments, having failed to achieve a political settlement, tried to "normalise" Northern Ireland.

    Aspects included the removal of internment without trial and the removal of political status for paramilitary prisoners. From onward, paramilitaries were tried in juryless Diplock courts to avoid intimidation of jurors. On conviction, they were to be treated as ordinary criminals. Resistance to this policy among republican prisoners led to more than of them in the Maze prison initiating the " blanket" and "dirty" protests.

    Their protests culminated in hunger strikes in and , aimed at the restoration of political status, as well as other concessions. The hunger strikes resonated among many nationalists; over , people [] attended Sands' funeral mass in West Belfast and thousands attended those of the other hunger strikers. From an Irish republican perspective, the significance of these events was to demonstrate potential for a political and electoral strategy. Additionally, it received monies from pro-IRA partisans in the United States and elsewhere throughout the Irish diaspora.

    The INLA was highly active in the early and mids. In , it bombed a disco frequented by off-duty British soldiers, killing 11 soldiers and six civilians. Margaret Tebbit was left permanently paralysed, while her husband's injuries were less serious. Nine shells were fired from a mark 10 mortar which was bolted onto the back of a hijacked Ford van in Crossmaglen. Eight shells overshot the station; the ninth hit a Portakabin which was being used as a canteen.

    The bomb went off by a cenotaph which was at the heart of the parade. Eleven people ten civilians, including a pregnant woman, and one serving member of the RUC were killed and 63 were injured. Former school headmaster Ronnie Hill was seriously injured in the bombing and slipped into a coma two days later, remaining in this condition for more than a decade before his death in December This became known as Operation Flavius. Their funeral at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast was attacked by Michael Stone , a UDA member who threw grenades as the coffin was lowered and shot at people who chased him.

    Stone was jailed for life the following year, but was freed 11 years later under the Good Friday Agreement. They were kidnapped, taken away and shot dead by the IRA. This became known as the Corporals killings. By , the IPLO was destroyed by the Provisionals for its involvement in drug dealing thus ending the feud. He predicted the war would last another 20 years. Loyalists were also engaged in behind-the-scenes talks to end the violence, connecting with the British and Irish governments through Protestant clergy, in particular the Presbyterian minister, Reverend Roy Magee and Anglican Archbishop Robin Eames.

    Signs were put up around South Armagh reading "Sniper at Work". The snipers killed a total of nine members of the security forces: seven soldiers and two constables. The IRA had developed the capacity to attack helicopters in South Armagh and elsewhere since the s, [] including the shootdown of a Gazelle flying over the border between Tyrone and Monaghan ; there were no fatalities in that incident. On 7 February , the IRA attempted to assassinate prime minister John Major and his war cabinet by launching a mortar at 10 Downing Street while they were gathered there to discuss the Gulf War.

    The mortar bombing caused only four injuries, two to police officers, while the prime minister and the entire war cabinet were unharmed. After a prolonged period of background political manoeuvring, during which the Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate bombings occurred in London, both loyalist and republican paramilitary groups declared ceasefires in The year leading up to the ceasefires was a particularly tense one, marked by atrocities. The IRA responded with the Shankill Road bombing in October , which aimed to kill the UDA leadership, but killed eight Protestant civilian shoppers and one low-ranking UDA member, as well as one of the perpetrators, who was killed when the bomb detonated prematurely.

    Twelve people were killed at Greysteel and Castlerock, all but two of whom were Catholic. On 31 August , the IRA declared a ceasefire. The loyalist paramilitaries, temporarily united in the " Combined Loyalist Military Command ", reciprocated six weeks later. Although these ceasefires failed in the short run, they marked an effective end to large-scale political violence, as they paved the way for the final ceasefires. In , the United States appointed George J. Mitchell was recognised as being more than a token envoy and someone representing a President Bill Clinton with a deep interest in events.

    The attack was followed by several more, most notably the Manchester bombing , which destroyed a large area of the centre of the city on 15 June. While the attack avoided any fatalities due to a telephone warning and the rapid response of the emergency services, over people were injured in the attack, many of them outside the established cordon. This bombing discredited " dissident republicans " and their campaigns in the eyes of many who had previously supported the Provisionals' campaign. They became small groups with little influence, but still capable of violence. Since then, most paramilitary violence has been directed at their "own" communities and at other factions within their organisations.

    There have been internal struggles for power between "brigade commanders" and involvement in organised crime. After the ceasefires, talks began between the main political parties in Northern Ireland to establish political agreement. These talks led to the Good Friday Agreement of This Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of "power-sharing". A security normalisation process also began as part of the treaty, which comprised the progressive closing of redundant British Army barracks, border observation towers, and the withdrawal of all forces taking part in Operation Banner — including the resident battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment — that would be replaced by an infantry brigade , deployed in ten sites around Northern Ireland but with no operative role in the province.

    The power-sharing Executive and Assembly were suspended in , when unionists withdrew following " Stormontgate ", a controversy over allegations of an IRA spy ring operating at Stormont. There were ongoing tensions about the Provisional IRA's failure to disarm fully and sufficiently quickly. IRA decommissioning has since been completed in September to the satisfaction of most parties. Similarly, although political violence is greatly reduced, sectarian animosity has not disappeared. Residential areas are more segregated between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists than ever. On 8 May , devolved government returned to Northern Ireland.

    In their efforts to defeat the IRA, there were many incidents of collusion between the British state security forces the British Army and RUC and loyalist paramilitaries. This included soldiers and policemen taking part in loyalist attacks while off-duty, giving weapons and intelligence to loyalists, not taking action against them, and hindering police investigations. Of the loyalists arrested by the Stevens Inquiries team, were found to be state agents or informers. During the s, the Glenanne gang —a secret alliance of loyalist militants, British soldiers and RUC officers—carried out a string of gun and bomb attacks against nationalists in an area of Northern Ireland known as the "murder triangle".

    The Stevens Inquiries found that elements of the security forces had used loyalists as "proxies", [] who, via, double-agents and informers, had helped loyalist groups to kill targeted individuals, usually suspected republicans but civilians were also killed, intentionally and otherwise.

    The inquiries concluded this had intensified and prolonged the conflict. FRU commanders say they helped loyalists target only suspected or known republican activists and prevented the killing of civilians.

    IRA Documentary

    Nelson also supervised the shipping of weapons to loyalists in It found that Special Branch had given informers immunity by ensuring they weren't caught or convicted, and blocking weapons searches. During the s and s, republican and loyalist paramilitaries abducted a number of individuals, many alleged to have been informers, who were then killed and secretly buried. They are referred to informally as " The Disappeared ". All but one, Lisa Dorrian, were abducted and killed by republicans.

    Dorrian is believed to have been abducted by loyalists. The remains of all but four of "The Disappeared" have been recovered and turned over to their families. British government security forces, including the Military Reaction Force MRF , carried out what have been described as " extrajudicial killings " of unarmed civilians. Republicans allege that the security forces operated a shoot-to-kill policy rather than arresting IRA suspects.

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    The Troubles

    The security forces denied this and point out that in incidents such as the killing of eight IRA men at Loughgall in , the IRA members who were killed were heavily armed. Others argue that incidents such as the shooting of three unarmed IRA members in Gibraltar by the Special Air Service ten months later confirmed suspicions among republicans, and in the British and Irish media, of a tacit British shoot-to-kill policy of suspected IRA members.

    Inter-communal tensions rise and violence often breaks out during the "marching season" when the Protestant Orange Order parades take place across Northern Ireland. The parades are held to commemorate William of Orange 's victory in the Battle of the Boyne in , which secured the Protestant Ascendancy and British rule in Ireland. One particular flashpoint which has caused continuous annual strife is the Garvaghy Road area in Portadown , where an Orange parade from Drumcree Church passes through a mainly nationalist estate off the Garvaghy Road.

    This parade has now been banned indefinitely, following nationalist riots against the parade, and also loyalist counter-riots against its banning. In , and , there were several weeks of prolonged rioting throughout Northern Ireland over the impasse at Drumcree. A number of people died in this violence, including a Catholic taxi driver, killed by the Loyalist Volunteer Force , and three of four nominally Catholic brothers from a mixed-religion family died when their house in Ballymoney was petrol-bombed.

    The impact of the Troubles on the ordinary people of Northern Ireland has been compared to that of the Blitz on the people of London. In addition to the violence and intimidation, there was chronic unemployment and a severe housing shortage. Many people were rendered homeless as a result of intimidation or having their houses burnt, and urban redevelopment played a role in the social upheaval. Belfast families faced being transferred to new, alien estates when older, decrepit districts such as Sailortown and the Pound Loney were being demolished.

    According to social worker and author Sarah Nelson, this new social problem of homelessness and disorientation contributed to the breakdown of the normal fabric of society, allowing for paramilitaries to exert a strong influence in certain districts. In the s there were 10, vandalised empty houses in Belfast alone.

    Most of the vandals were aged between eight and thirteen. According to one historian of the conflict, the stress of the Troubles engendered a breakdown in the previously strict sexual morality of Northern Ireland, resulting in a "confused hedonism" in respect of personal life. In many cases, there was little parental supervision of children in some of the poorer districts. Of these, 3, were killed up to Gates suggests that whatever one calls the conflict, it was "certainly not" a " low intensity conflict ".

    In it was estimated that , people in Northern Ireland suffered some physical injury as a result of the conflict. On the basis of data gathered by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency , the Victims Commission estimated that the conflict resulted in , 'victims' in Northern Ireland alone. It defines 'victims' are those who are directly affected by 'bereavement', 'physical injury' or 'trauma' as a result of the conflict.

    It has been the subject of dispute whether some individuals were members of paramilitary organisations. Several casualties that were listed as civilians were later claimed by the IRA as their members. Most killings took place within Northern Ireland, especially in Belfast. Most of the killings in Belfast took place in the west and north of the city. Dublin , London and Birmingham were also affected, albeit to a lesser degree than Northern Ireland itself. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    For other uses, see Troubles disambiguation. Ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland. The Troubles in Ireland. Main article: Partition of Ireland. See also: Timeline of the Northern Ireland Troubles and peace process. Main article: Northern Ireland civil rights movement. Main article: Northern Ireland riots. Play media.