Monthly Archives: March 2022

Remembering Madeleine Albright….

I reproduce below a brilliant memorial of the recently deceased former US Secretary of State, Madelaine Albright which appears in the current edition of Mondoweiss, the radical voice of Jewish Americans and their friends. Albright passed away earlier this week and while the mainstream media heaped praise on her memory. Mondoweiss’s piece placed her under an unforgiving spotlight. It is worth reading in the context of the stance of moral superiority taken by the United States and the West in general over Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and the mass media’s unquestioning role as the West’s propaganda partners in that conflict. It seems that Ms Albright once justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children who the United Nations had estimated had perished as a direct result of US-prompted sanctions against the Saddam Hussein regime. Sort of puts Mr Putin in context, yes?

Madeleine Albright’s Legacy

Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes
Madeleine Albright (1937-2022)
Madeleine Albright has died at the age of 84. She was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State from 1997-2001, the first woman to ever hold that position. From 1993-1997 she was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. For some the enduring legacy of Albright won’t involve anything she did during her historic political career. She will be most remembered for something she said.
Something very rare happened on May 12, 1996. That evening viewers of CBS’ 60 Minutes witnessed a thorough and critical segment about U.S. foreign policy that was based around actual reporting. The program, which would go on to win correspondent Lesley Stahl an Emmy and a duPont-Columbia journalism award, was called “Punishing Saddam” and it detailed the U.S. government’s Iraq sanctions policy.
Let’s begin by stepping back. When it comes to Iraq, some Americans might view the Clinton years as an uneventful gap between Bush 1’s Gulf War and Bush 2’s Iraq War. “Eight Years of Peace, Progress, and Prosperity” went the Democratic mantra. However, the Iraqi people certainly experienced no peace during that era. After less than six months in office (in full violation of international law of course) Clinton lobbed 23 cruise missiles into the country. Three hit residential areas, killing nine people and wounding 12. The acclaimed Iraqi painter Layla Al Attar was one of the victims. Her husband and their housekeeper were also killed. Her daughter was blinded. The bombings continued from there. Operation Desert Strike occurred later that year, then there was Operation Desert Fox in 1998. In 1998 Clinton also signed the Iraq Liberation Act, instituting an official U.S. policy of “regime change” and planting the seeds for Bush’s war crimes.
Then there were the sanctions, which a UN-commissioned study found responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. Those numbers have been challenged in subsequent years, but it’s important to remember a couple things. The “Oil-for-Food” program’s first coordinator Denis Halliday quit his position in protest of the policy in 1998, calling it “genocidal.” The respected diplomat had worked at the U.N. for 34 years.
“When I got to Iraq in 1998, the hospitals in Baghdad, and also of course in Basra and other cities, were full of children suffering from leukemia,” Halliday told The Progressive last year. “Those children, we reckon perhaps 200,000 children, died of leukemia. At the same time, Washington and London withheld some of the medicines and treatment components that leukemia requires, again, it seemed, in a genocidal manner, denying Iraqi children the right to remain alive.”
Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit a couple years later for the same reasons. “For how long should the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?” he asked.
So 26 years ago, Albright was interviewed by 60 Minutes as the Clinton administration’s spokesperson on the matter. Here was the most infamous portion of the exchange:
Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.
The striking thing about this exchange is Albright’s honesty. You almost never see a story like this in the mainstream media, but when you do the protocol is pretty consistent. We’re currently seeing it play out with pro-Israel groups and Amnesty International’s apartheid report. You smear and deflect, but you never actually acknowledge the crimes.
As I mentioned, the legacy of Albright’s comments is the compelling part. The deaths of Iraqi children were consistently cited by Osama bin Laden in interviews and recruitment videos. “A million innocent children are dying at this time as we speak, killed in Iraq without any guilt,” he declared about a month after the 9/11 attacks. At the time The Guardian looked into the claim and concluded that he was overstating things. However, the paper also quoted Dr Peter Pellett, a professor of nutrition at UMass, who served on multiple UN food and agriculture missions to Iraq: “All recent food and nutrition surveys have reported essentially the same story: malnourished children… increased mortality, and a general breakdown in the whole fabric of society.” When it came to Iraqi kids “Bin Laden’s propaganda may be exaggerated and one-sided. But he does perhaps have a point” the article admitted.
Even if you happened to watch and remember that 60 Minutes episode from 1996, the mainstream press certainly wasn’t acknowledging the Albright quote within the context of 9/11 after the towers fell. It’s doubtful that many Americans were reminded of it. Here’s Rahul Mahajan in FAIR from November 2001:
Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It’s also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11attacks. But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote–in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register. This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine.
A couple years after Albright made those comments she was questioned by students at Ohio State during an event that was televised by CNN. Albright (by then Secretary of State) had come to the campus with Defense Secretary William Cohen national security adviser, Samuel Berger to make the case for attacking Iraq. Again, a concept with roots far deeper than 2003.
Albright fielded a question from Jon Strange, who was a 22-year-old substitute teacher at the time. Here’s that exchange:
Strange: What do you have to say about dictators in countries like Indonesia, who we sell weapons to yet the are slaughtering people in East Timor. What do you have to say about Israel, who is slaughtering Palestinians, who imposed martial law. What do you have to say about that? Those are our allies. Why do we sell weapons to these countries? Why do we support them? Why do we bomb Iraq when it commits similar problems?
Albright: There are various examples of things that are not right in this world and the United States is trying..I am really surprised that people feel it is necessary to defend the rights of Saddam Hussein, when we what ought to be thinking about is how to make sure that he does not use weapons of mass destruction. 
Strange: I’m not defending him in the least. What I am saying is that there needs to be consistent application of U.S. foreign policy. We cannot support people who are committing the same violations because they are political allies. That is not acceptable. We cannot violate U.N. resolutions when it is not convenient to us. You’re not answering my question Madam Albright.
“Madeleine was always a force for goodness, grace, and decency — and for freedom,” said President Biden in a statement after her death. Last week Biden sent Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia after the country urgently requested them. On the campaign trail Biden declared that he would end U.S. support for and make Saudi Arabia a pariah, but Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the calculus. Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with 17 million people food insecure. 2.2 million of them are children. Biden presumably views it as a very hard choice, but ultimately thinks the price is worth it.
You can watch the entire 60 Minutessegment from 1996 online. It’s just as compelling all these years later.

A Classic Quote – Does It Still Define Unionism?

I discovered this quote, the opening words of an academic article by Donal Lavery titled: ‘Ulster Resistance and Loyalist rebellion in the Empire’, on the internet and thought it so well expressed a view that while rarely spoken, was taken as one of the givens of the conflict. It seems to me that if it still explains a substantial enough section of Unionism, then calling the Troubles ‘over’ is premature indeed…….

Before Ukraine: Serbian Soccer Fans Remind World Of U.S. Invasions

This was the scene before Red Star Belgrade took on Glasgow Rangers prior to their UEFA match. Red Star won 2-1 but Rangers went through on aggregate.

Staring Armageddon In The Face…..

Chris Hedges, an admirable and brave journalist, paints a terrifying picture of what could follow Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s descent into mindless jingoism…..pray that he is wrong…….

Gene Kerrigan On Ireland, Ukraine, Iraq, Putin, Bush and Blair

This time, we did the right thing Writes Gene Kerrigan

The people act in solidarity. Children donate their pocket money and adults offer the use of a spare room. Refugee fundraising goes on in all the usual places, with the Late Late Show leading the way. When the Ukrainians needed help, we did the right thing.

The Government offered a fast, visa- free admission process. Again, it was the right thing to do.

We are right to acknowledge our own proper choices, but let’s not kid ourselves that we always do the right thing. It’s not too long since we were on the side of the bombers.

Meanwhile, a somewhat rowdy debate of sorts has erupted on the issue of neutrality. It is led by politicians and EU groupies, with a handful of the usual media suspects. They tell us to “grow up” — and with heavyweight intellectual arguments like that, man, I for one am floored.

My own guess is that neutrality is a goner. For decades, it has been an irritant among politicians and their chums — it gets in the way of cynical deals they like to make to promote our economy.

The anti-neutrality crowd can surely harness our solidarity with Ukraine. They can then gradually sideline neutrality, denigrate it and systematically deny its significance.

Already, the Russian war on Ukraine is used as the clinching argument.

We better abandon neutrality, we’re told, and begin spending €3bn a year on guns, bombs and planes, otherwise we’ll wake up one morning and Vladimir Putin will be motoring around Merrion Square in a tank.

The argument is that Putin might as easily have invaded us as he did Ukraine. Not true.

The Russian/Ukrainian armed conflict began in 2014. It has an even longer political history.

Ireland has no such dispute, with anyone. Ukraine, on the other hand, is heavily armed, with a very effective army and air force, and that didn’t spare it invasion.

The last major war in which our neutrality was raised as an issue was the American invasion of Iraq.

We did not do the right thing.

In the wake of the 9/11 atrocity, US president George Bush created the doctrine of the “rogue state”. Roughly speaking, this meant that a state didn’t have to do anything to harm the USA, it was enough to have the capacity to do so. And that gave Bush the right to do whatever he thought necessary.

He decided to invade Iraq, to remove and kill dictator Saddam Hussein — who allegedly was bristling with weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam was a murderous thug, but he had nothing to do with 9/11 and his regime had previously been a sidekick of the US.

Bush’s people told stories of Saddam’s terrible weapons, the media reproduced these stories as gospel. UN weapons inspectors said Saddam had no such weapons. They were dismissed as fools.

Saddam had no such weapons.

Some of Bush’s advisers had theories about how they would use the takeover of Iraq to rearrange the Middle East. This was crackpot nonsense, but Bush ran with it. The preparations for war began.

So did the protests. About 36 million people worldwide joined protests, to no avail. Here, one demonstration attracted a reported 130,000 marchers through Dublin city centre.

We were dismissed as anti-American and apologists for a savage dictator — the usual casual calumny.

Getting close to the Americans in their hour of need was regarded by the leaders of many countries as a key to prosperity.

Bush was blunt about his intentions — first, he’d flatten Iraq. His “shock and awe” bombing was beyond what we see now in Ukraine, criminal as that is.

Having flattened Iraq, Bush offered a bonus — he’d spend billions in “reconstruction”. And only businesses from countries that backed the invasion could apply for reconstruction contracts.

Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador in Washington, received a blunt “principal instruction” from prime minister Tony Blair: “Get up the arse of the White House and stay there.”

Blair wanted to play God in the Middle East, and the notion of it being good for UK business didn’t hurt.

Poor Sir Christopher. He inserted himself in the position to which he was assigned, only to find it was rather crowded up there.

Those eager to flatter Bush included the leaders of the Gang of Eight — eight European countries that rushed to sign a letter pledging their support for the invasion.

Inevitably, shoulder to shoulder with the Gang of Eight and Sir Christopher, in the bowels of the White House, there was the occasional Irish accent.

The Irish politicians’ priority was ensuring US investment was preserved. Bush had from 9/11 onward laid down the law — Saddam equalled Terrorism. “Are you for or against terrorism?”

To prove you were worthy of Mr Bush’s respect, you had to speak positively of his invasion.

Our neutrality meant we couldn’t actually invade anywhere — so we couldn’t send troops to die for Bush’s ambitions. This meant no reconstruction contracts.

To stress our loyalty to Uncle Sam, our politicians offered Bush the use of Shannon Airport as a hub and refuelling depot to facilitate the invasion.

This was seen by the US invasion planners as a critical asset. So useful was Shannon that they’re still using it, two decades later.

The plan to rearrange the Middle East fell apart. Bush got bored with the whole project, declared “mission accomplished” and pretended it was all a dream.

We had — and to this day have — no idea what the Americans use Shannon for, apart from refuelling.

We know there has been some “rendition” use — rendition is when the CIA kidnaps someone abroad and sends them to a third country, to which the American torture requirement is outsourced.

This involves aircraft criss-crossing continents — we don’t ask. No curiosity at all. Best not to know.

We have no idea how the use of Shannon affects any other aspect of American military planning, including bombing. It would be so embarrassing to ask. It might force them to lie. Worse, they might tell us the truth.

No one kept an agreed body count in Iraq, but the dead were in their hundreds of thousands.

Inevitably, this turmoil resulted in waves of refugees fleeing violence and heading toward Europe.

Given that we had played a small part in creating their plight, it would be nice to say we did the right thing, but — well, it’s complicated.

All those brown faces, the culture significantly different — well, let’s put it this way: the Late Late Show hasn’t done much fundraising for those refugees and the Government doesn’t waive any visas.

We’ve been in no hurry to throw our arms open.

A handful of Afghans made it here, looking for help — we told them to leave and they went on hunger strike, but the law was on our side, so we soon ran them off.

Odd, really. I mean, we had no responsibility for the consequences of Putin’s savagery but — quite properly — we did the right thing.

On the other hand, we had some small responsibility for the effects of the Bush military adventures — and the refugees they created — and we did a runner.

Our neutrality policy originated in a period when Ireland was newly independent, a small nation in a world dominated by colonial states still emerging from the age of empires.

The history of our neutrality is one of pragmatism, self-interest and trying to do the right thing.

Today, our leaders find neutrality to be a nuisance. It gets in the way of their economic horse-trading.

Neutrality isn’t the answer to everything; it mightn’t be the answer to anything.

But it has served us better than the alternative — which usually involves crouching somewhere smelly, in the company of an anxious British ambassador, matching his every obsequious grin as we compete for the favour of the Big Guys.

Matt Taibbi On Post-Ukraine Media Censorship, East & West…….

Orwell Was Right

From free speech to “spheres of influence” to our passion for endless war, we’ve become the doublethinkers 1984 predicted

Matt TaibbiMar 13

This weekend I re-read 1984, a book I tend to reach for when I get Defcon-1 depressed about the state of the world. Deep in the novel, Winston ponders the intricacies of doublethink:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them… To forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again… that was the ultimate subtlety.

In the last weeks, Russia took an already exacting speech environment to new extremes. A law was passed that would impose 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine invasion; access was cut to Facebook and Twitter; stations like Echo Moskvi and TV Rain as well as BBC Russia, Radio Liberty, the New TimesDeutsche WelleDoxa, and Latvia-based Meduza were effectively shut down; Wikipedia was threatened with a block over its invasion page; and national authorities have appeared to step in to prevent coverage of soldiers killed in the war, requiring local outlets to use terms like “special operation” instead. The latter development is connected to the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, issuing a remarkably desperate dictum requiring news outlets to “use information and data received by them only from official Russian sources.”

Russia also appears in the middle of a general crackdown on local media, not so much because those outlets are dissenting, but because they’re more likely to provide indirect evidence of war failures or the effect of sanctions. The desperation to control news has grown to the point where Russian diplomats in foreign countries are pressuring state outlets in countries like Iran to stop using the term “war” to describe what’s going on in Ukraine.

On the flip side, a slew of actions have been taken to crack down on “fake news” and “misinformation” in the West. The big one was the European Union banning RT and Sputnik:

Google Europe @googleeuropeDue to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately. It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.March 1st 20224,546 Retweets18,649 Likes

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube also cut access to all Russian state media, because the EU sanctions also required that internet platforms delist any RT or Sputnik content, even from individuals. The statute reads, “As regards the posts made by individuals that reproduce the content of RT and Sputnik, those posts shall not be published, and if published, shall be deleted.”

Other governments across the West, from Australia to Canada, have taken similar actions. In the U.S., Google and YouTube disallowed Russian state media ads (following a request by Senator Mark Warner) and demonetized “a number of Russian channels,” including RT but also many non-Russian individuals, before proceeding to demonetize all individual Russian content creators, even the individuals opposing the invasion. Even DuckDuckGo, the speechier, more pro-privacy alternative to Google, announced it was de-ranking “sites associated with Russian disinformation.” A growing list of Westerners have seen accounts frozen for supposed parroting of Russian talking points or “abusive” commentary.

YouTube banned Oliver Stone’s documentary Ukraine on Fire, while Netflix is going so far as to shelve a production of Anna Karenina. In what might have been the craziest move of all, Meta reportedly followed up a decision to un-ban the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion with a mind-blowing decision to alter its hate speech policies to “allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion,” according to internal emails seen by Reuters.

One would hope there would be at least a few Americans left who’d hear about Russia barring the BBC and Voice of America and at least recognize the sameness of the issue involved with banning RT and Sputnik. Or, seeing how pathetic and manipulative it is for Russians to prevent reporting on war casualties, we’d recall the folly of the ban we had for nearly twenty years on photographs of military coffins, or the continuing pressure on embeds to avoid publishing images of American deaths from our own war zones. We should be able to read that Twitter and Facebook are cracking down on the “fake accounts” spreading “misinformation” that “Ukraine isn’t doing well” and notice that Russia’s measures against “fake news” and “disinformation” about its own military failures — though far more draconian and carrying much more severe penalties — are rooted in the same concept.

We don’t, however, because we long ago reached the doublethink phase predicted by Orwell, where most of the population is conscious of double standards but ignores them effortlessly. A healthy person should be able to be horrified by what’s happening in Russia and also see a warning about the degradation that ensues from using “pre-emptive” force, or from trying to control discontent by erasing expressions of it. But years of relentless propaganda have trained Americans to doublethink their way out of such insights. Cornel West just laid all of this out in an interview with the New Yorker:…

That BBC vs. Gerry Adams Libel Case

I notice that in media reports of recent legal decisions re Gerry Adams’ libel case against the BBC, the Dublin High Court judge Ms Justice Emily Egan ‘ruled that the BBC was entitled to the discovery of documents relating to Mr Adams’ alleged membership of the IRA and its army council although she doubted that the illegal paramilitary organisation itself kept and retained detailed records and minutes of its meetings.’

I hate to take issue with her honour but nothing could be further from the truth. The IRA is a highly bureaucratic organisation and keeps detailed records of nearly everything. IRA Army Council meetings are always recorded in detail by the Council’s secretary as are GHQ meetings. The records are then stored away in dumps and can be recovered when necessary.

Common sense alone dictates that this is the case for the simple reason that a record of decisions taken are there for the record and in case there are any disputes about what was decided, who spoke, and who voted for or against a particular decision. After all the IRA at that level can be a very bitchy, not say dangerous organisation and the records are there to resolve disputes about who said what to whom, when, what was decided and who else was a witness.

Occasionally the records of Army Council meetings make it into the public domain. This happened in the wake of discussions between the IRA leadership and the British during the controversial ceasefire of the mid-1970’s. Army Council records were made public by the O Bradaigh side to rebut assertions and allegations made by the Adams wing.

Incidentally Mr Adams probably holds the record for attending more Army Council meetings than any other of his republican contemporaries.

The Untold Cost Of America’s Wars….

I don’t think any sane person could excuse Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine but some countries, like people, most definitely have little or no moral right to criticize Russia in the light of their own record over the years.

Two countries top the list of hypocrites. One is Britain which has been in the business of invading other countries and subjugating their peoples for longer than most; the other, a more recent recruit to the business of bullying foreign peoples, is the United States.

That has especially been the case in the wake of 9/11 when the US has used the threat from a few thousand Islamic extremists to cause havoc and mayhem in North and East Africa, Arabia, the Middle East and Asia.

That excellent website Tom Dispatch has published today links to a map, produced by the Watson Institute of Brown University, which calculates that since 9/11, thirty-nine million people have been displaced either from their homes or their countries as a result of US military action, more people reduced to refugees by a conflict since 1945.

You can see the full map here.

Not only is this immoral, it is also stupid since a significant portion of those forced from their homes will seek to exact revenge by joining or otherwise supporting the extremist groups that the US seeks to punish or extirpate. We saw this happening in Belfast and Northern Ireland where actions against the IRA – Bloody Sunday, internment, Castlereagh, hunger strikes – only served to inflate support for the enemy the British sought to defeat.

‘What Success Did The British State Enjoy Against The IRA?’ – A British Army View

Name: Roy Campbell

Student No: 1262828/1

BA in War Studies

Dissertation Supervisor: Dr Peter Neumann

The Troubles, which this project will study, refers to the period of violence that occurred in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1995, which saw what would become the British Army’s longest deployment in a combat role; Operation Banner and a conflict which consisted of three key players: the British Government, the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A) and Unionist politicians and paramilitaries, whilst also having an international dimension too.

As General Mike Jackson wrote in the operational analysis of the campaign, “That campaign is the longest to date; one of the very few waged on British soil; and one of the very few ever brought to a successful conclusion by the armed forces of a developed nation against an irregular force.” (MOD, 2006, page i) This essay shall look at how successful the British State was in Northern Ireland, in terms of curbing the levels of violence that has come to epitomise The Troubles. This will mean that we can see if the methods adopted for this conflict, can be used in any future ‘small wars’ involving British forces and could also help as a comparison piece, with the campaign “now viewed through the prism of more recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.” (Bew, 2012, p.156)

The main sources of information shall come from books written about the conflict, with additional sources coming from journal pieces, magazines and websites amongst other available means. The research will be conducted by a review and comparison of the aims of the main protagonists, in order to see if the British state was successful in its aim(s) and if not, why that was the case. This method is most appropriate as it provides a clear comparison of the aims of all those involved, the methods that each side used to prevent the other achieve a particular aim and can provide a clear-cut end answer to the question.

There are some matters that this methodology may not help to explain. This methodology does not really take into account the role of civilian actors throughout the conflict, such as influential authors, religious figures and local officials who may have helped play a role in defusing The Troubles. In addition to this, the methodology fails to take into account the individuality of the commands of the IRA and seeing if they differed in their aims or methods or the attacks that were committed by individuals within the IRA but without the approval of the IRA Army Council or a higher authority within the IRA. Nevertheless, this method seems the most valid, as it provides a comprehensive analysis of The Troubles and allows comparisons to be made as regards the strategies of the IRA and the British Government.

My hypothesis is that the ‘The British State did achieve success against the I.R.A, but not enough to achieve a decisive victory over them through military might alone and that a compromise would be required.’ Some of the possible conclusions that I believe may be reached based on the preliminary readings are as follows:
The Security forces defeated the I.R.A overtly but not decisively.
The success of the Security Forces in Ulster forced the I.R.A to attack elsewhere, indicating a large scale of success.
The success of the Security Forces forced the I.R.A to pursue political means instead of violence.
A combination of the above two.
Literary review:
When looking at the Northern Ireland Troubles, an important point to notice is that the literature does vary on certain issues, depending on when that particular source was written and who is writing it. Regarding the deployment of troops to the province for example, Tim Pat Coogan, who writes from the Nationalist perspective, writes in The Troubles, “The entire character of the contact between the Catholic civilian population and the army became adversely affected when certain units arrived in the north for tour of duty. This was particularly true of some Scots regiments and of the paratroopers.” (Coogan, 1996, p.127).However, this is contrasted by Marc Mulholland, who points out in his book The Longest War, that the British Army behaved in a way that was fair to both sides, even if it did not seem like that at the time: “The British Army showed no partiality to Protestant rioters, and quelled them with a stern hand” (Mulholland, 2001, p.76)

What is interesting about Tim Pat Coogan, is that Sean O’Callaghan, in his book The Informer, mentions that whilst in prison, “One of the writers recommended to them was Tim Pat Coogan, the Irish historian and nationalist author of many books on the IRA and Irish Nationalism.” (O’Callaghan, 1998, p.328), yet he is critical of his work.

One of the limitations of the literature which relates to Intelligence and Special Forces operations is that some of the information, particularly any which relates to the actions of the Special Air Service are classified and therefore unable to feature in this dissertation. This means that in terms of the secret war, only a few secondary sources, such as Mark Urban’s Big Boys Rules are available to cover this issue.
In terms of the available standpoints regarding the literature, they seem to fall into three categories; Nationalist and therefore potentially biased and supportive of the IRA such as that of Tim Pat Coogan; Loyalist and therefore but not always, supportive of the British Government’s participation in the province and a neutral viewpoint, which aims to show both sides equally, such as that of Marc Mulholland, who pointed out in his book The Longest War, that it was not necessarily true that the B-Specials, Northern Ireland’s police auxiliary force, were inherently anti-Catholic and therefore more likely to engage in violence against Catholics but that they were untrained in public disorder and riot control, explaining their perceived overreaction during August 1969. This viewpoint seems to be backed up by the Scarman Report of 1972, Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969, who wrote that “the general case of a partisan force co-operating with Protestant mobs to attack Catholic people is devoid of substance, and we reject it utterly.” (Scarman, 1972)

The spectrum of the literature is quite large, ranging from very jingoistic viewpoints from either the nationalist or loyalist perspective at either end of the spectrum to academic and therefore generally fact based sources available, with a very limited availability of primary sources.

The trouble before The Troubles:
The Troubles in Northern Ireland have their roots long before the period that is being looked at in this question. The earliest trouble between the Catholic minority and the Protestant majority go as far back as 1609, when “settlers from England and Scotland filtered into Ulster, altering the ethnic balance and complicating the religious and political mix.” (Gillespie, 2013) in the Plantation of Ulster. This soon spilled into violence, leading to the Confederate War of 1641-1652, when “Irish Catholics [fought] against Protestant English and Scots” (Plant, 2012) and the Williamite war of 1689–1691, both of which resulted in victories for the Protestants.

As time passed, stricter penal laws were passed, which guaranteed the dominance of the British Protestants in politics by curtailing the legal, religious and political rights of anyone who did not follow the Anglican Church of Ireland, the state church.

This does not mean that The Troubles are based on a religious issue. The Troubles were fought over two differing forms of nationalism rather than any religious differentiation. Religion was used as a way to separate the two communities. The Catholic minority, for a large part, favoured the Irish Republican cause of Irish unification while the Protestant majority, who formed a vast majority of Loyalists, favoured Unionism.

Home Rule, a form of limited Irish self-government, had been considered since the 1880s, due to the influence of the Irish Parliamentary Party. This sowed further seeds of discontent, as Unionists, mostly Protestants, worked against either self-government or independence for Ireland. This was because, Home Rule, meant to Unionists, most of whom were concentrated in Ulster, that their future would be uncertain in an overwhelmingly Catholic country dominated by the Roman Catholic Church; “in the words of one MP, that “‘home rule’ in Ireland would prove to be ‘Rome Rule’.”(Stewart, A.T.Q., 1967, p.82) This paved the way for what became the Home Rule crisis and it was against this background that the Ulster Volunteers under Edward Carson were formed in 1912, the first armed group of the crisis which was closely followed by the formation of the Irish Volunteers. The Ulster Volunteers, were determined to block Home Rule, by force if necessary, whilst the Irish Volunteers wanted to see Home Rule come into effect.

On the 24th of April 1916, Easter Monday, the Easter Rising occurred. This was an armed insurrection against the British Government by Irish Republicans, “at a time when Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” (National Library of Ireland, 2006), which had the goals of ending British rule in Ireland, secession from the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and establishing an independent Irish Republic. This occurred whilst Great Britain was stretched fighting in the First World War. Most of the fighting took place in Dublin, where “by Friday 28th April, the 1,600 rebels (more had joined during the week) were facing 18-20,000 soldiers.” (BBC, 2014) with skirmishes, if they can be called that, occurring in the counties of Meath, Galway, Louth and Wexford. The rising achieved none of its aims, resulting in the subsequent Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921, which “was initiated by a small number of young, determined Irish Volunteers, known from August 1919 as the Irish Republican Army (IRA).” (BBC, 2014) This did lead to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, through the partition of Ireland.

One of the main protagonists throughout the Troubles, Sinn Fein (‘Ourselves Alone’), had been around since 1907. Back then its original goal was to see an “elected Irish Parliament in Dublin owing allegiance to the British Crown.” (Dewar, 1997, p.16) The group’s military wing, the Irish Republican Army, was at this stage engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Royal Irish Constabulary, reinforced by the “Black and Tans.” (Coogan, 1996, p.123)

In 1922 the Irish Free State Constitution Act was passed, creating “a Roman Catholic-dominated Irish Free State with the same constitutional status as either Australia or Canada. This state evolved into today’s Republic of Ireland” (Coogan, 1996, p.24). Initially, this status applied to the whole of Ireland. Northern Ireland however had the ability to opt out and, after three days under the rule of the Irish Free State, parted ways on the 9th of December 1922. What was clear from the outset, was that the six counties that make up Northern Ireland, would never accept that and would happily leave the Free State:
“MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland.” (Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 1922)

With this Northern Ireland was left to self-govern itself, a situation which led to “the polarization of the catholic minority by the Protestant majority” (Dewar, 1997, p.17). This was worsened by the “subsequent hold over politics, culture and society enjoyed by the Ulster Unionist Party until the collapse of the Stormont administration in 1972” (Edwards, 2011, p.7) As time wore on, discrimination against Catholics was widespread, although it should be noted that the Protestant minority in the Republic of Ireland faced a similar situation. If we move into the period just prior to 1969, this was leading to a situation that would soon erupt into violence, “where in a real sense, the gerrymandering system blew up in the Unionists’ faces, bringing British troops on to the streets in 1969 and thus inaugurating the contemporary Irish Troubles.” (Coogan, 1996, p.34)

Aims of all involved:
The I.R.A:
The I.R.A’s aim remained the same from the beginning of the conflict. That aim was to get Northern Ireland removed, through the use of violence, from the United Kingdom in order for it to be brought into the Republic of Ireland and create a fully united Ireland. The strategies it used evolved over time however. As Smith points out, “The concept of limited war is useful in that it helps us to comprehend those conflicts which exist between unequal participants. This is particularly relevant to the Irish Republican case as its strategic history has largely been about how the movement has tried to circumvent the superior power of the British.” (Smith, 1995, p.3)

This has led the IRA to adopt several different strategies, such as the “Campaign of Attrition since 1974” (Bell, 1970, p.419); this is encompassed in the British Army’s official campaign analysis , described as “the end of the insurgency merged into the phase characterized by the use of terrorist tactics” (MOD,2006,p.2). Another strategy was the initial bombing campaign of the early 1970’s which saw the IRA use bombs on the mainland, notably the Birmingham Pub bombings, the M62 coach bombing and the Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings. This was adopted in order to get British public opinion to turn against continued involvement of British forces in Northern Ireland, although the fact that these sorts of attacks probably encouraged people to support the British Government’s continued involvement in the province, indicates a lack of real serious thought with regards to IRA strategy.
In a way, Loyalist aims can be summed up quite clearly. In 1969, it seems that they wanted to continue to retain the firm control they had over the Stormont government and wanted to remain out of a united Republic of Ireland. However, ironically the Loyalists would end up destroying their state by gaining British intervention into their conflict and by their unwillingness to reform and compromise: “The irony was that that, in destroying O’Neill, Ulster Unionism opened an era, uninterrupted since, of de facto administration of Northern Ireland by the very liberal establishment they had so resented. The king had fallen but the courtiers, arrayed in the Northern Ireland Office, survived and prospered. There would be no returning to the hegemony of traditional Unionism” (Mulholland, 2000, p.203).

However, that the violence was not political in nature and may have just been retaliatory should not be overlooked, given the fact that the IRA was killing Loyalists indiscriminately and that Loyalist violence started to rise after the passing of Direct Rule in 1972 and the inevitable failure to curtail IRA violence up to that point.

It is interesting to note that some Loyalists were hostile to the intervention of British troops in Northern Ireland, which is ironic given that they served the British Government to which they were supposedly loyal to, Dixon citing; “Even before the Hunt Report, there had been considerable conflict between the army and loyalists, resentful at British interference in Northern Ireland” (Dixon, 2001, p.111). The fact that the Loyalists were not willing to listen and implement advice from Westminster due to different agendas was a key reason why The Troubles, which could have been averted in 1969, occurred.
It was ironic that the way Northern Ireland behaved prior to August 1969 was like that of a police state but that it did not have enough police. Therefore when British troops were called in, “Nationalists recognised that British intervention constituted a political defeat for Unionism.” (Guelke, 1988, p.88)

British Government:
What is interesting about the initial British aim is that the British initially wanted to stay as uninvolved in the province as was possible. As Wichert writes “Once the British government began to get involved, it had to learn about the region it had neglected politically since its inception.” (Wichert, 1992, p.118) It could even be said that if the British Government became involved in Northern Ireland a lot earlier, that even the events of August 1969 could have been avoided with reforms pushed through before violence had begun. However, “Hitherto the British Government had left the unionist party to rule Northern Ireland with no interference.” (Moody, 1974, p.48) Even as the crisis of 1969 was unfolding, what can be seen in Westminster is an initial reluctance to get involved in Northern Ireland.

Contrary to some of the more neo-IRA sources available, the deployment of British troops was not some initial act in a purge of Catholics and it’s quite ironic that the Army’s “initial function was the protection of Catholic families.” (Darby, 1983 ,p.27) and not the protection of the Ulster State. A sign of the ultimate failure of the British State regarding Northern Ireland could be the fact that in 1972, the Ulster State, as it was, was replaced by Direct Rule from Westminster, meaning that the aim of the British government to keep British involvement to a minimum was unsuccessful.

The International dimension:
What was notable about the conflict was the International element to it. “In 1969, America was clearly the best place for the IRA to look for guns, money and political support.” (Bishop and Mallie, 1987, p.233) A clear sign of the importance of the international dimension, particularly to the IRA, is illustrated by Sean O’Callaghan, who writes of his trip to the United States, “While in jail, I had thought periodically about going to America to try to explain the true nature of the IRA and to show how Irish America’s romantic views of the situation had helped the IRA in a real and quantifiable way, whether by their supplying of guns and money or by their application of political pressure.” (O’Callaghan, 1998, pp.408-409) Another sign of the international dimension could be seen with the smuggling of weapons into the hands of the IRA, “the most notorious of [which] were the civilian version of the military M-16-the AR 15 Armalite.” (Bell, 1970, p.373)

Another source of weapons for the IRA came from Colonel Gaddafi of Libya, who helped the IRA to wage war against the British Government. This stemmed from a desire to “boost his revolutionary credentials by assisting terrorist groups bent on destabilizing Western governments. His determination to help the IRA intensified when the British allowed bases at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire to be used by the American F–111s that bombed Tripoli in April 1986.” (Harnden, 2011) An example of the weapons which were supplied in 1985 include “300 boxes of weaponry including AK–47s, Taurus automatic pistols from Brazil, seven Soviet–made RPG–7s and three Russian DShK 12.7mm heavy machineguns.” (Harnden, 2011)

The ability to gain access to new weapons such as the “M-60’s, like the appearance of the Armalites before, had propaganda value in showing nationalists that the IRA could obtain the most up-to-date firearms” (Urban, 1992, p.33). It also allowed the IRA to expand its operations and hence keep on fighting, which may not have been the case if it had not received this support. It should be noted that prior to the deliveries of weapons, the arsenal of the IRA was not particularly impressive, with the weapons being of Second World War vintage; “The M1 Carbine and ‘greasegun’…There were Garand semi-automatic rifles, bolt-action Springfields and Lee Enfields…This motley arsenal was augmented by the odd standard NATO issue SLR stolen from the British Army.” (Bishop and Mallie, 1987, p.130)

Given that it shares the actual landmass of Ireland with Northern Ireland, the viewpoint of the Republic of Ireland should be presented here as well. According to CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet), “Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution lay claim to the 32 counties of Ireland, somewhat modified by the Irish government’s acceptance in the Anglo-Irish Agreement that any move towards unity required the agreement of a majority in Northern Ireland. The same agreement assures the Irish government a role in Northern Irish affairs, which tends to be primarily an advocacy one for Northern nationalists.” (CAIN, 1995) In August 1969, “Troops were on stand-by in the Irish Republic to assist evacuation.” (Geraghty, 1980, p.140) although some Unionists interpreted this as possible intervention by the Irish state. In terms of practical assistance to the British State however, it can be questioned as to how much the Irish Government supported the IRA; “join Irish-British military operations along the Border, which might have done much to deny PIRA its safe havens in the Republic, were never conducted.” (MOD, 2006, p.33)

A year of change: 1969 and the beginning of The Troubles
An example of the injustice in Northern Ireland can be seen in the voting system and all its irregularities. This, coupled with property demand, led to Protestants being overly favored over Catholics, leading to grievances that would eventually turn into rioting. Derry was a prime example: “In Derry City, there was still a Unionist majority on the council, although there were more Nationalist voters in one ward than Unionists in the entire city” (Bew, Gibbon and Patterson, 1995, p.9) In terms of security, even in this field, the Nationalists mostly saw Unionist domination and state oppression.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the B-Specials were viewed as tools of state oppression, as some of the actions they took led to the view that they were “little more than sectarian forces in uniform” (Mulholland, 2002, p.71) Joe Cahill describes the B-Specials as “regarded by northern protestants as their own force” (Cahill, 2002, p.31), which indicates a real view that the RUC and the B-Specials were nothing more than tools for the Loyalists to use with impunity against the Nationalists. In the field of economics, job discrimination was seen in the province, although the actual level of discrimination remains a contested topic to this day. For example, Bill Rolston highlights that the shipbuilding firm Shorts refused for years to sign a Declaration of Principle and Intent.

This declaration was meant to commit employers to pursuing fair employment. Fair employment in this case means that the religious affinity of any potential worker should not come into question. However Rolston goes on to point out that “When the firm eventually got around to signing, the FEA [Fair Employment Agency] permitted it to do so, even though its own formal investigation of the firm revealed a massive inbuilt sectarianism in the firm’s workforce.” (Rolston, 1983, p.226) Roche and Barton stress that “the reason for relative Catholic disadvantage in the job market is a complex matter and not amenable to simple explanation” (Roche and Barton, 1991, p.47). They point out that “Shorts and Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the proportions of Catholics employed are low, are located in Protestant East Belfast which Catholics perceive as hostile territory” (Roche and Barton, 1991, p.47).
The behavior of the local security forces during August 1969 has been questioned as one of the reasons why The Troubles came about. The deployment of troops indicated that “Civil disorder between the Catholic and Protestant communities had escalated to such a degree that the Northern Irish police forces were no longer capable of subduing the violence or maintaining order.” (Kennedy-Pipe, 1997, p.49). However some analysis suggests that incompetence and other administrative issues rather than a deliberate desire to crush Nationalism with overwhelming force were factors in creating this image. For one, the size of the police force made the application of public disorder control quite difficult: “By 1968, the strength of the RUC had reached 3,031, topping the old establishment for the first time, besides 180 B Specials, mobilised for full-time duty.” (Ryder, 2000, p.99) As Urban points out quite astutely, “As a medium-sized provincial police force the Royal Ulster Constabulary had lacked the means to deal with an increasingly violent nationalist insurrection and loyalist counter-violence.” (Urban, 1992, p.21)

Additionally, “there had been no coordinated public order training, protective equipment like shields and helmets was in short supply, and hastily arranged courses, based on training films borrowed from Scotland Yard, were designed for pushing and shoving good-natured, unarmed demonstrators into line-tactics that were already obsolete for Ulster.” (Ryder, 2000, p.108) From this perspective, it could be argued that the RUC and the B-Specials did all that they could, given the difficult position they were in whilst not being provided with reinforcements, partly due to the British Government’s reluctance to send them from the mainland and a lack of neighboring forces to borrow police from: in “a meeting in London between Chichester-Clark and James Callaghan, the British Home Secretary, the government minister responsible for Northern Ireland, it was said there was no question of British police being loaned to Ulster” (Ryder, 2000, p.110).

Further, they were unprepared for the scale of escalation arising from the Civil Rights campaign and had sleepwalked into The Troubles. It should also be pointed out that the: “RUC had been effectively pulled along by the strategy of tension. Their employment of armoured cars and heavy machine-guns against what they thought was republican rebellion was wildly inappropriate in the actual circumstances of communal turmoil.” (Mulholland, 2002, p.73)

The use of troops is questionable as British troops have rarely received more than a lukewarm reception from Irish nationalists. In addition to this, their presence “had militarized the Catholic ghettos – in an astounding abdication of responsibility the mainland police had refused to countenance serving in Northern Ireland-and the consequent military theatre invited a nationalist response.” (Mulholland, 2002, p.61-62) This helped provide the IRA with propaganda for the nationalist cause as it portrayed the troops as occupiers, evoking memories of things such as the Black and Tans. Furthermore, the experience of British troops can also be questioned. In terms of operational experience: “There were no real guide lines when the Army first arrived in Ulster. Those who did have experience of an internal security situation found Ulster was a far different proposition from Aden, Cyprus or Hong Kong.” (Brazilay, 1975, p.65)

A clear and somewhat humorous example of this occurred “when soldiers newly arrived in Northern Ireland unfurled a banner ordering rioters to disperse in Arabic.” (Beattie Smith, 2011, p.151) The British Army therefore brought “tried-and-tested techniques from colonial theatres in an attempt to quell the violence.” (Edwards, 2011, p.31) Whilst this may have been effective in colonial confrontations, with the British Army well equipped to fight guerilla wars thanks to experience from Malaya, Kenya and Palestine in addition to other conflicts post 1945, the lack of adaptation to Northern Ireland contributed to the increase in violence.

What is interesting to note is that “[James] Callaghan considered drafting in British police officers to relieve the army of the burden of police duties” (Dixon, 2001, p.107). The fact that one of the Nationalist complaints was against the RUC means that it is highly unlikely the Nationalist community would have been appeased by the presence of mainland British police in Northern Ireland, although the mainland police would have been more able to deal with public disorder through experience of football hooliganism on the mainland at the time and that the police were more trained for public disorder than troops.

Furthermore, if the mainland police were brought in, the chances of escalation from the IRA may have been reduced, due to the fact that to shoot unarmed British police personnel may have alienated them from some of their supporters, who may have only had an issue with the RUC and B-Specials. The same applies even if the British Army came in just to stabilize the initial situation and was replaced by the British police. Additionally, if the police were brought from the mainland and then the rioting continued, escalation to the use of troops would have been available as an option and may have had a coercive and intimidatory effect upon the Nationalist community, rather than just full blown escalation. There are some drawbacks to this however. If the British police were brought in, it may have been interpreted as Northern Ireland was being integrated fully into the United Kingdom and may have spurred violence on the part of Nationalists. Furthermore, the issue of where these policemen would come from inevitably arises.

Troops on the street and Early Ulsterisation:
Once British troops were deployed, as James Callaghan was warned in 1969, it would be difficult to extract them. What is interesting is that contrary to some of the literature, the policy of Ulsterisation was pursued from the start. This can be attributed to the British aim of a swift exit from the conflict. An example of this was seen “in late January 1970, [when] three of the eight major Army units that had originally been sent to Northern Ireland were withdrawn” (Neumann, 2003, p.52)

Further evidence of this can be seen by the formation of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) on the 1st of April 1970. However this policy was unlikely ever to have pleased Nationalists for the simple reason that “In the eyes of some Catholics the British policy of Ulsterisation has appeared as little more than a reversion to the pre-1969 position, in which they perceived a Protestant police force as bound to act against their interests.” (Kennedy-Pipe, 1997, p.81)

The irony of this however is that Catholics in a way put themselves in this position by refusing to join the Security Forces, thereby denying the Security Forces legitimacy. This was partly due to the threat of IRA intimidation and a stigma from the Republican community of serving in the Security services meant that this situation was inevitable.

In addition to this, the quality and size of the local security forces meant that an early withdrawal of British forces in the province was always going to be unlikely. Ulsterisation really got into full swing in the late 1970’s, with the introduction of the police primacy strategy which will be covered later on.
In terms of the situation on the ground, according to the MOD report on the conflict, the period from 1969-1972 was the insurgency phase for the IRA; “from the summer of 1971 until the mid-1970s, is best described as a classic insurgency. Both the Official and Provisional wings of the Irish Republican Army (OIRA and PIRA) fought the security forces in more-or-less formed bodies…Protracted firefights were common. The Army responded with operations at up to brigade and even divisional level. The largest of these was Operation MOTORMAN, which was conducted from 31 July to 1 December 1972. It marked the beginning of the end of the insurgency phase.” (MOD, 2006, p.7)

Two notable events occurred during 1972. The first and one of the most contentious was Bloody Sunday, an incident which occurred in the Bogside area of Derry on the 30th of January 1972 in which British soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment. Thirteen people were killed with some of the victims shot while fleeing from troops and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. This incident led to an increase in recruitment for the IRA, although the initial propaganda advantage this gave to the IRA was eroded when “The Officials carried out a retaliatory raid on the Paras’ regimental home at Aldershot in England; but the bomb killed a Catholic priest, albeit an officer and several women cleaners. Condemnation was general.” (Bell, 1970, p.384)

The second incident was Operation Motorman, conducted on the 31st of July 1972 which was the largest British military operation since the Suez Crisis of 1956, and the biggest conducted in Ireland since the Irish War of Independence. 22,000 British soldiers augmented by 5,300 soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment were involved, in addition to some heavy armored vehicles. The objective of this operation was to take back ‘no-go areas’, which were areas that were barricaded and held by the IRA in places such as Belfast and Derry, with the ones in Derry in particular, being in response to Bloody Sunday. The spur for this operation, came from Bloody Friday, an IRA operation, when 26 bombs exploded in a period of eighty minutes, on the 21 July 1972. These ended up killing nine people, two of whom were soldiers and injured 130 others. This indicates that the British aim of restoring peace to Ulster, was at this point not fulfilled.

Despite this the operation had its advantages. As Smith writes “Motorman represented a decisive blow against PIRA. Not only did the Provisionals lose the propaganda value of the ‘no-go’ areas which often took on the appearance of PIRA mini states, but, more importantly, the movement’s operational capacity was reduced. These areas were a considerable military asset…Motorman also broke up the hard core of PIRA operatives in Belfast and Derry, most of whom dispersed into the countryside or over the border.” (Smith, 1995, p.110) This meant that if the British Army and the local Security Forces were more persistent in their campaign against the IRA, it may have been possible to defeat the IRA militarily, which would have helped in stabilising the situation in Ulster and, allow British forces to withdraw, the aim which seems to have been the one that successive British governments pursued most obsessively.
The End of the Ulster State: 1972
With the security situation deteriorating within the province after three years of violence, the British Government rushed through emergency powers that led to home-rule from Westminster, effectively ending the Ulster state which had existed prior to The Troubles. This had been brought about in “response to increased violence in the province and the apparent unwillingness of the ruling Unionist politicians to accommodate changes at that time.” (BBC, 1972) The enormity of this event should not be overlooked as it demonstrated that, due to the differences between Loyalists and Nationalists, governance from Belfast was no longer possible. In addition to this, the end of fifty years of Unionist control occurred with this event.

The reasons for this event were as follows. The fact that violence continued throughout the period from 1969 to 1972 unabated is one reason. In conjunction with this, there were severe political problems at Stormont. Brian Faulkner could not deal with his backbenchers: London was not willing to grant additional resources to help stem the violence and more hard-line Loyalists all helped make his position untenable. In addition, Brian Faulkner had decided to introduce internment and British troops were implicated in enforcing this, helping to deteriorate further the feelings of Nationalists towards the British forces.

Another reason why internment was a mistake was that “Only republicans were targeted” (Mulholland, 2002, p.95), even though the Ulster Volunteer Force, had been active since 1966, which was a clear indication of Faulkner giving in to Unionist pressure, whilst using a method that would incite more violence and seeming to give tacit support for Unionist paramilitaries. Internment (imprisonment of suspects without trial) had been used in Northern Ireland before and had been done “successfully during the 1950s, largely because it had been brought into force on both sides of the border at the same time.

But in 1971, it was a major political blunder as there was no chance that the Irish Republic, already deeply concerned with events, was going to agree to the request from Belfast.” (BBC, n.d.) This meant that anyone who was wanted, could have headed into the Irish Republic and avoid arrest, making the policy ineffective in that sense. This was indeed the case as “key figures on the lists, and many who never appeared on them, were warned before the swoop began” (Coogan, 1996, p.149). In addition to this, much of the intelligence that was used to identify suspects was outdated and many of those who were initially arrested were soon released. Furthermore, “others [arrested], although Republican minded, had not been active in decades.

Others arrested included prominent members of the Civil Rights movement. In one instance in Armagh the British Army sought to arrest a man who had been dead for the past 4 years. It appears that the rapid radicalisation of much of the North’s nationalist community, and the RUC’s alienation from that community in the previous 2 years, had created a large intelligence gap in RUC files.” (Museum of Free Derry, 2005)

The effect of this policy was not to reduce the violence but led to an increase in it. This was partly due to “the proven ill-treatment during interrogation of some of [the] internees.” (Sanders, Wood, 2012, p.56) A European Commission on Human Rights lawsuit brought by the Irish Government in 1976 ruled that, “the security forces’ use of five techniques – white noise, sleep deprivation, wall-standing, beatings and the deprivation of food and drink – amounted to torture.” (BBC News, 2011) This served to galvanise opinion in Republican circles and helped raise support for the IRA. In terms of violence, “six months before internment, twenty-five people died, in the six months afterwards, 185.” (Schiepers, 2010, para 13 of Destroying the IRA: Internment and deep interrogation segment), which indicates the lack of success of this policy.

Due to the failure of Faulkner, “The British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, became increasingly frustrated as…Stormont failed to reduce violence or introduce elements of power-sharing that involved Catholics.” (Doherty, 2001, p.13) This led to the situation in March 1972 when “to Faulkner’s surprise, the British Government, moved to take control of security and law and order powers in Northern Ireland; this meant a complete transfer of security powers to Westminster.” (McEvoy, 2008, p.73) This was the price that Stormont had to pay for its failure to curb the violence in Ulster. The loss of security powers was unacceptable to the Stormont cabinet who were unanimous in their rejection of this action: they consequently resigned, with the last meeting of the Stormont House of Commons occurring on the 28th of March 1972.

It should be noticed that both Loyalists and Nationalists did not like Direct Rule as the system left the people of Ulster with very little democratic say over the way they wanted to be governed. Despite this, some Loyalists were happy to work under this system as it demonstrated or seemed to demonstrate that Ulster was an integral part of the United Kingdom. This system also had its appeal to Nationalists as it could be believed that the politicians at Westminster would be less hostile and more likely to do things for the Nationalist community, rather than a government voted for by the majority, in this case Protestant, Unionist community.

Police Primacy:
As mentioned earlier, Ulsterisation was an attempt to distance Britain from the conflict by letting the local security forces have a bigger role in maintaining law and order. One of the methods that was adopted was police primacy. This came about from 1975 when “a committee of senior Army, RUC and intelligence officers chaired by John Bourn, an NIO [Northern Ireland Office] civil servant, produced a document called ‘The Way Ahead’. It was to become the most important security initiative of the late 1970s, leading to a policy known as Police Primacy. Under this plan, the role of the regular Army was to be reduced and overall direction of the security effort given to the RUC in 1976.” (Urban, 1992, p.17)

The fact that this policy was successful owes some explanation. The key reason that the RUC was now able to deal with the task of maintaining law and order, was due to improvements that had been undertaken following the Hunt Report. One example of this was that in 1980, “In August, for the first time since 1969, the RUC had tackled rioters in Belfast, Londonderry, Dungannon and Newry, during the internment anniversary disturbances, and had not needed to call on the army back-up.”(Ryder, 2000, p.24)

Due to the success of the RUC, the British government was able to draw down troop numbers in the province: for instance, in 1980 “the RUC relieved the RAF Regiment of its duties at the passenger checkpoint at Belfast Aldergrove airport and one of the army’s three brigade headquarters was withdrawn from Portadown” (Ryder, 2000, p.240) and that “the regular army presence had been progressively reduced to about 10,000, less than half of the 1972 peak” (Ryder, 1991, p.186).

The Covert War:
What is interesting about the Northern Ireland Troubles, was that of the role of intelligence and Special Forces. As a BBC video, Britain’s secret war with the IRA mentions, British experience in many colonial conflicts, of a similar nature to Northern Ireland, showed that intelligence was an important tool in defeating the IRA. The use of intelligence forces, can be traced to as early as 1971, when Military Reaction Forces (MRF), were deployed. In addition to this a report for Harold Wilson at the time states that: An April 1974 briefing for Prime Minister Harold Wilson stated: “The term “Special Reconnaissance Unit” and the details of its organisation and mode of operations have been kept secret.” (NIO, 1974, p.1) In addition to this, there were other methods such as the use of informers, under the MRF.

Other methods including the use of a special ‘laundry’ service, which was run by the military intelligence service. As the BBC video states: “The van, which soon became a familiar sight in Republican territory, was used to spy on the enemy. The enterprise was known as the Four Square Laundry.” (BBC History, 198?) What is interesting about this method, is that it was a way of finding out forensic information about individuals, although the level of success this method achieved has not been documented.

One method that was used extensively through The Troubles was the use of informants within the Nationalist community. The effectiveness of this can be seen in the fact that “hundreds of others, Loyalist and Republican, were forcibly or willingly recruited, primarily by the RUC’s intelligence division, the Special Branch.” (Toolis, 1995, pp.193-194) As with most campaigns against a terrorist organisation, the best intelligence is the human kind, making informers ideal with regards to Northern Ireland. The fact that British troops or Protestant members of the local Security Forces would not be able to slip into the tight-knit Republican communities, meant that the informer had to come from within the community.

In addition to this, the role of the Special Air Service (SAS) should be looked at. Some primary information available about the SAS is unavailable due to security reasons as a question and answer session in David Barzilay’s The British Army in Ulster Vol.3 shows: “9.How many men are deployed in Ulster? 9. Numbers of men in the SAS is classified SECRET” (Barzilay, 1978, p.199)
However, their effectiveness can be asserted by the fact that after their deployment to South Armagh in 1976, the levels of violence were considerably reduced: consequently SAS-type operations were extended to other areas of Ulster. Furthermore Urban points out that, “during the period from the commitment in 1976 of a SAS squadron to south Armagh to late 1987, conventional units of the Army killed nine IRA men and two members of the INLA. During the same period, the SAS and 14 Intelligence Company killed thirty members IRA members and two INLA.” (Urban, 1992, p.238)
The Bombings:
No analysis of the Northern Ireland campaign can ignore the role of the IRA bombing campaigns. These were numerous, with CAIN giving a figure of 16209 incidents involving explosive devices, with the caveat that this is just for Northern Ireland alone. The number of major incidents that occurred on the mainland, I have worked out to be 23, although this fails to take into account devices that may have been discovered and subsequently disarmed, attacks that may have been stopped midway through execution by the security services or the smaller attacks that occurred.

The bombings on the mainland which started from 1973 are worthy of note, as until then the violence had mainly been confined to Ulster, meaning that whilst the violence was nearby, it was not near enough to influence public opinion, something which the IRA believed would make the British Government rethink its stance towards Northern Ireland. One of the first attacks was the Birmingham Pub bombings on the 21st of November 1974, in which 21 people were killed and 182 injured. This attack however, brought a backlash on the large Irish community in Birmingham, with incidents such as “petrol bomb attacks [hitting] Irish targets during the night” (Panayi, 1999, p.146) and “In Birmingham, there has been talk of English workers dropping bricks on the heads of Irish Catholic workmates on building sites and in factories.” (Milliken, 1974)

However several of the bombings conducted by the IRA failed to have the effect that was desired and further strengthened the cause of the British Government. One such act was the use of proxy bombs. This tactic involved forcing people who were civilians, off-duty members of the Security Forces or people associated with the security services to drive car bombs to British military targets, after placing them or their families under some kind of threat. An example of this was in 1990, when a Catholic man, Patrick Gillespie, who worked for the Security Forces was forced to drive a bomb loaded with explosives into the Coshquin border checkpoint, whilst his family was held hostage. As Moloney points out, this tactic damaged the Republican movement: “as an operation calculated to undermine the IRA’s armed struggle, alienate even its most loyal supporters and damage Sinn Féin politically, it had no equal.” (Moloney, 2003, p.348)

The Brighton hotel bombing has been brought up as an example of the impact the IRA could have had, if it had been successful in killing Margaret Thatcher. This I would question, as given where her party stands on the political spectrum, it would be highly doubtful if any Conservative politician who succeeded her, if the attack succeeded, would be able to either negotiate with the IRA or withdraw from the Northern Ireland conflict, without incurring a tirade of problems from Conservative backbenchers and the general public. If anything, the IRA may have scored an own goal, as the success of that attack might have just drawn in wider investment and involvement of British forces into the province, possibly leading to the collapse of the IRA, if the British government really pressed its advantages.

If we take the British Government’s aim as trying to avoid getting dragged into the conflict in the province in August 1969, then immediately we can see that this objective was unsuccessful. The fact that troops had to be deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland was not really the fault of the mainland British Government however, although it can be argued that the British Government should have done more prior to August 1969, regarding the situation in Northern Ireland, even implementing direct rule from Westminster, prior to this development in 1972 and pushing through political changes, to see off the Civil Rights campaigners.

However, it can be argued that if the British Government had intervened earlier, by imposing direct rule, “the IRA would see the ending of Stormont as a victory” (Cunnigham, 2001, p.10), which would explain why Westminster tried to avoid it. In the defence of the British Government however, if the government had taken over the direct running of Ulster, the IRA may have embarked on its campaign for unification regardless of any concessions made regarding civil rights, for ideological reasons. In addition to this, the Royal Ulster Constabulary was in no fit state for the scale of trouble that was seen in 1969, which is a fault that lies squarely on the Stormont government of the time. Finally, the Unionists’ apparent reluctance to give in to reasonable demands and reform was a major contributing cause which also lies solely with Stormont.

As regards to a quick withdrawal, we can see that this British aim was a failure also, simply by the fact that troops had been in the province up until 1997, albeit as time went on, in a supporting role. This however was not all the fault of the British government and the irony is that if the Unionists were willing to let the Security forces do their work: without getting involved, the Security forces may have been able to defeat the IRA, as the IRA may have lost support from the Nationalist community due to a lack of Protestant retaliation and rhetoric, like of that the late Reverend Ian Paisley.

A look at Northern Ireland today however reveals a society that has made remarkable improvements, although issues still remain. For one, during The Troubles, little foreign investment was made in the province. Now that the violence has largely dissipated, Northern Ireland seems to be benefiting from what is referred to as the ‘peace dividend’: “in the past 10 years [from 1998-2008], over 100,000 jobs have been created, and the unemployment rate now stands at around 4.2 percent, below the UK average of about 5.2 percent.” (Saul, 2008) Bearing in mind that one of the initial causes for the outbreak of disorder in August 1969 was job discrimination, partly interlinked with the relatively small amount of jobs, this represents a success for the British Government.

In addition to this, the levels of violence have been reduced to such a level that a semblance of normal life has returned to Northern Ireland. Whilst it is true that some violence from Dissident Loyalists and Dissident Republicans such as the Continuity I.R.A, Irish People’s Liberation Army and the Real I.R.A continues, gone are the days of bomb scares, shootings and violence on a level that now seems unbelievable given the nearness of the province and the similarities between the mainland and Ulster.

What will be interesting however, will be 2016, as hardline republicans look to celebrate the centenary of the Easter Rising, with Sean O’Callaghan writing; “We have seen one dissident parade in Belfast and a seriously ugly riot as a result. But that is just one and we are going to have dozens of these dissident parades across Northern Ireland in 2016.” (Sullivan, 2014) This could lead to some ugly scenes, as sectarianism still occurs in Northern Ireland and looks set to be an issue for the foreseeable future.
To some extent the I.R.A could never have defeated the British state through use of violence alone. As Oppenheimer puts it, “in military terms, they were failures and were defeated by the security forces.

They could conduct some occasional ‘spectaculars’, but these media events did not pose serious threats to the state and its ability to govern. Even the mortar attack on 10 Downing Street (1991) was merely a grandiose symbolic gesture (with added nuisance value) to try and chivvy talks along, but was hardly likely to collapse the state. (Dingley, 2012) The fact that the IRA also suffered infighting did not help its cause at all. Civilians within Northern Ireland started to grow tired of the conflict, especially when the ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom of the Republic of Ireland, was contrasted with Northern Ireland, meaning less support for the IRA and that some of the attacks of the IRA attracted such a negative response, also eroded IRA support.

Going back to the four possible conclusions that I mentioned earlier we can see clearly that the Security Forces achieved success against the IRA. The fact that they were nearly defeated and never got the British State to withdraw from the province is prime evidence of that. Overtly, the IRA was not defeated as it was able to pull off some spectacular (but ineffective) attacks such as the Brighton Hotel bombing, although the Security forces achieved two of my possible conclusions. The fact that the IRA took their violence to the mainland indicates a large level of success by the Security forces in the province, meaning that as time went on, the chances of the IRA achieving its aims by violence in Ulster alone were not a possibility. The fact that the IRA adopted an Armalite and ballot box strategy was in part due to the British government’s actions also. In conclusion, we can see that the British government, using its methods was largely successful in Northern Ireland, even though it failed initially to stay out of the conflict.


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