The Irish and the Brits

Is the strife still going on in Ireland, or have the incidents been overshadowed since 9/11? I seem to have been reading about the fighting amongst the Catholics and the Protestants, like, forever, but. nothing in a long time. Was a truce declared?

There have been ceasefires for a number of years by paramilitaries on both sides - not all of them though. There is ongoing sectarian conflict in the streets of Northern Ireland (nothing has happened in the rest of Ireland for a long time), some of it fairly serious but, with rare exceptions, large scale attacks are a thing of the past.

Pretty much what **ruadh ** said, if you google on “The Good Friday Agreement” you will find a wealth of information. It is the blueprint for a permanent peace, although full implementation has proved slow (blame of course being thrown in all directions). It involved release of convicted terrorists, decommissioning of paramilitary weaponary, demilitrization of NI and changes in the NI police force, shared power in local government etc. etc. and has been generally successful in at least reducing the level of conflict whilst a permanent solution continues to be sought.

On a personal basis I started out totally opposed but came round to the need to make the leap of faith. My opposition was based upon my family connections in the British Army and knee jerk reaction to the release of convicted murders and terrorists from UK jails back into the communities. From here now it looks like a beacon of hope for other intractable global conflicts - ME obviously.

Try although our usual friends may be along in a minute trying to show BBC error or bias. Not saying that either is impossible mind!!

I’d say tyhat 9/11 would have zero impact on the NI peace process. If anything, the Omagh bombing would have affected it far more.

I had always thought that one of the biggest reasons that there were no more large terrorist attacks in NI after 9/11 was because there was a large flow of cash/support from the US. After 9/11 this dried up and/or was replaced by pressure for peace. How big of a factor was this, if true at all?

There are these three guys in a prison, an Irishman, a Scotsman, and an Englishman. They are all sentenced to be flogged. But the prison warden tells them he will let each of them have his own choice of something to dull the pain.

The Irishman says, “I’ll have a quart of Irish whiskey.”

The Scotsman says, “I’ll have a quart of Scots whisky.”

The Englishman says, “I’ll have the Irishman tied onto my back.”

Not true at all because the ceasefires mentioned above were already in place long before 9/11.

Also bear in mind that many of the grievances of the catholics of NI have been addressed (or are in the process of being addressed). The IRA no longer has any valid political reason to pursue terrorism:

  1. Back in the 60s and 70s there was a property qualification in NI such that only people who owned property could vote. Since most catholics rented, this meant that the catholics were effectively disenfranchised. This has now been changed.

  2. Political power and the police force was generally in the hands of the protestants. This is being changed.

  3. The Good Friday Agreement says that NI can reunite with Ireland if a majority of the population of NI votes for it. There are more protestants than catholics in NI but the catholic birthrate is higher (less use of contraceptives plus the general Irish catholic trend toward big families). So in time, maybe 20 years, maybe 50 years, the catholics may outnumber the protestants in NI.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that catholics WILL vote to rejoin Ireland just that they can. They may decide to retain the status quo (at least for a while) for various economic and political reasons.

Interestingly, if NI DID vote to rejoin Ireland we may see more trouble in NI. The northern ireland protestants are about as hardline a group of religious people as you could ever hope to meet. It’s unlikely they will decide to go quietly. But this time the situation would be reversed - instead of the British trying to control the catholics, it would be the Irish trying to control the protestants.

Ireland isn’t exactly renowned for it’s all-conquering, all-powerful military machine and may struggle to deal with NI. So we may see British troops there for some time even after reunification (at the request of the Irish government).

But all this may be some decades ahead of us and maybe everything will have calmed down by then. Maybe solutions will have been found and accommodations reached.

The paramilitary ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement predate the WTC attacks by several years.

There are paramilitary splinter groups which are not on ceasefire and which repudiate the peace process. Whether they are dissuaded from carrying out major atrocities by the WTC attacks, or by effective police and intelligence work, or by a lack of support and resources it’s not really possible to say. Probably a combination of the three.

I think it probably is true that, for those militants disenchanted with the political process, the option of reverting to the use of force is made much less attractive by the altered climate in the US and international to political violence/terrorism since the WTC attacks.

I would say this is true to an extent for militants who remain within the mainstream of the republican movement (i.e. the Provisionals) and those in or sympathetic to the INLA (which is also on ceasefire). I don’t believe it’s true for militants allied to CIRA and RIRA (which aren’t) - I think what prevents them from carrying out large scale attacks is mainly the fact that they’re littered with touts.

I have absolutely no insight into unionist paramilitaries’ views on these matters.

Jojo, the increase in the Catholic population relative to the Protestant population also has a great deal to do with increased emigration on the Protestant side.