How an IRA volunteer was radicalised against the backdrop of student revolts all over the world…

Just on the hoof, this is worth linking (not least because Anthony’s patient transcriber’s done us a favour in committing a longish HARD Talk interview to text). It’s Stephen Sackur interviewing Kieran Conway, now a defence lawyer in Dublin, formerly an IRA volunteer.

What’s particularly interesting is the part where he explains his transition from student to ‘soldier’

SS: Why?

KC: Well I went to university in 1968, the autumn of ’68, against the backdrop of student revolts all over the world, particularly Germany, France and to a lesser extent, the UK also the US, the Vietnam War, South Africa and so on. And although I didn’t join anything in the first year I took part in the many protests that took place. And then in 1969 The North blew up. The Catholic areas were attacked by a combination of RUC men, that’s the police force in The North, and Loyalists and many, many houses were burnt down. People were killed. People were injured. The IRA at the time was not in a good shape but they did defend some areas as best they could with very small numbers. That event led directly to the birth of the Provisionals who were people who were dissatisfied with the stance that the then-leadership of the IRA was taking. They broke away, formed the Provisionals, recruited and I eventually joined them.

SS: I can see how, in that period of ’68-’69 of revolutionary fervour on campuses across the world frankly – I can see how you’d get swept up in that and I think you saw yourself as a very radical socialist.

KC: Oh, yeah, yeah.

SS: I get all of that. But what I don’t get is your determination which you pushed all the way to going to Belfast but then even going to England to actually join an underground secret military organisation where you knew, and actually you sought out, the opportunity to use guns, to consider planting bombs, to commit acts of violence. That is one heck of a step!

KC: Well it was clear that a revolutionary situation had developed in Ireland and many people, everybody I knew, was either communist or anarchist, syndicalist in those days but…

SS: …Weren’t all of them just talk? And you acted.

KC: Yeah, I know that, yeah and I did act, yes. I’ve always been…

SS: …I mean you must have been prepared, even as a young man of twenty, to consider killing people.

KC: Oh, yeah, absolutely accepted that as part of the price, if you like, of joining the IRA – clearly people were going to be killed.

SS: And you were going to do it.

KC: Yes, I was quite prepared to do it, yeah.

This connection with student radicalism across the western world was much in evidence at the time, but rarely features in modern commentary on the events of the time. Much focus has been on civil rights, and in the particular the development of the SDLP by prominent figures in the NICRA.

The self-imposed limits of Conway’s evidence also provide further evidence of why no truth and reconciliation process is ever likely to provide any satisfactory material for the 1700+ victims of the Provisionals.

  • Enda

    Britain is a horrid place because of globalism. It seems we may need a new word for ‘progressive’, giving the political turmoil we’re seeing around the world it turns out ‘progressivism’ isn’t really progressive at all.

  • Zorin001

    I’ve a well thumbed copy of The Lost Revolution by Brain Hanley and Scott Millar lying around the house somewhere, its well worth a read to give some background on this period, especially leading up to “the split”

  • Enda

    Is money all you care about?

  • Enda

    I voted yes in the EU referendum in June past. That really doesn’t mean I have to be okay with empty headed multiculturalism though. It might be okay for urban areas to have more of it, but I’m not really in favor of it in smaller rural areas.

    We have digressed from the article though.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And without the EU, the UK and ROI are in a straight jacket where the basis of trade and co-operation with other nations becomes random and ad hoc due to proud nations saying No to things simply for the sake of it. It’s not so nice to be on the receiving end.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The EU got rid of customs on the border and customs between the island, given most of our rural areas in Ireland are either close to a border or a coast and need to trade with other cultures just to make a living I would say exposure to a bit of “multiculturalism” was a small price to pay.

  • Enda

    Yes, I agree, a ‘bit’ of multiculturalism, and the border was probably the main reason why I voted to stay in the EU. I have very little problem with the free movement of people, but too much of a good thing and all that.

    I just have no time for the wishy washy liberalism that comes with progressivism and globalization, where we all have to start watching our p’s and q’s.

    I remember once while working in a call centre in Leeds when I was a student, a group of us were talking about goal keepers. When I mentioned Packie Bonner, I found myself in a disciplinary for using a racial slur due to the high percentage of asians that also worked there. After a bit of explanation they insisted that I should refer to him as Patrick from now on. I refused. It didn’t end well.

    This is but one example of how multiculturalism can impose a PC agenda in everyday life. I’m dead against that.

  • Enda

    Rubbish what?

  • Enda

    Oh, have I hurt your widdle feelings cos I gave you a real life example. And yes, I have had plenty of slurs thrown at me from English people when I was a student, some rather aggressive, but instead of telling the PC police, I gave back as good as I got.

    I’d also like to point out that I’m not a troll. I’m using a picture of my face and my real name, unlike you. Go cry in the corner, or better yet go and whine like a good wee SJW.

  • Zorin001

    This place is beginning to resemble the Northern Ireland section of Politics.ie.

    Thats not a compliment….

  • Zorin001

    Threads hijacked after the first few posts, strawman arguments and people flinging around unverifiable anecdotes as fact.

    I’d say it is.

  • Enda

    Eh? As much as I am a red-blooded Irish man, I will concede that I was born in the six counties which is politically joined with the UK, Leeds is in the UK, it wasn’t being a beneficiary of the EU that allowed me to move to Leeds. Seriously, now I think you’re just clutching at straws to have something to argue with me about.

    I’ve also pointed out time and time again that I have no problem with the free movement of people, to an extent. i don’t like seeing the destruction of rural communities because of globalization, and family life and community mean more to me that any profit or market, to think otherwise makes me feel shallow, material and soulless.

    This is my position. It’s a reasonable position. Just because it differs somewhat from yours doesn’t make me xenophobic, or racist or whatever.

    If giving examples on a political forum is evidence to you of trolling, perhaps you would be best of looking for a teen chat site to vent out your frustrations.

    But perhaps I am a racist. I do sometimes shop at Lidl.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Because it’s the reality of what has happened in our rural communities. Our rural communities are pretty monocultural and perhaps it’s because they are monocultural they cannot see the positives of new experiences and new people may bring.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Really, that’s the big problem … you can’t say “Packie Bonner” around Leeds? You’d think you were banned from saying Paddy McGuinness around Dublin.

    First World Problems.

  • Enda

    It wasn’t a problem at all Kevin, merely a frustration, now don’t go blowing things out of proportion. A complaint was logged against me when the word ‘Packie’ was mentioned in the context of Packie Bonner, and it was handled exceptionally badly by a middle management type who made the situation worse, I used this as an example of PC gone mad, in part due to globalization and pandering to peoples sensitivities.

    There are many more examples I hear of in the news everyday, which causes me to roll my eyes. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer as socially left as what I once was.

    I don’t want to live in a world where smug people get to moderate my language because they feel I may have offended someone with simple words. Skins are getting thinner day by day.

  • Enda

    Irish people, or at least the ones I know, tend to be a bit insular, parochial and non-pretentious. It’s a breath of fresh air to be around them after a six month stint in overpopulated over opinionated Britain.

  • Kevin Breslin

    care about my children and want them to grow up in a safe environment like I did. Not a town that has been taken over by a different culture, with different values. I want my daughter to be able to walk to school safely. She is 12, lives in the same town as I grew up in. We could walk to school safely when we were that age. She will be at risk of rape if I let her walk to school nowadays. That is what you call multiculturalism.

    There is a big difference between diversity and tolerance compared to an open border policy that has no foundation in common sense and threatens to destroy our communities.

    I think you may need a quite lesson in common sense because I would hate to break the bad news to you:

    Vast majority of rapists are local people.
    Vast majority of murderers are local people.
    Vast majority of violent criminals are local people.
    Vast majority of pedophiles are local people.
    Vast majority of drug pushers are local people.
    Vast majority of traffic offenders are local people.
    Vast majority of drunk drivers are local people.
    Vast majority of people who will destroy a community are the local people that live in or around that community for generations.
    Local People who will embrace British and indeed Irish culture here.

    Members of the British and Irish establishments, who would’ve defined “Our Culture” have been tied to gansterism and child molestation charges for crying out loud.

    Many criminals and rapists are the same complexion, speak the same language, wear normal clothes and go shopping for jeans just like the rest of us.

    It has nothing to do with multiculturalism all to do with humanity’s dark desires to use and abuse their fellow human beings.

    Your 12 year old is as much under threat from the white Northern Irish people that surround her as she is from foreigners, despite any culture they may embrace.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Political correctness of such preciousness is an almost exclusively Anglo Saxon phenomenon. It smacks of naïvety, ignorance and a kind of white man’s burden paternalism. It is part, but not an inevitable one, of the British multicultural agenda of course but muticulturalism is not the inevitable consequence of high immigration figures. There are more integrationist and assimiliationist models to follow.

  • Enda

    Sorry, I did come on to read/discuss the article, but then I read this….

    ‘Given that England, and Britain in general is far more progressive etc With London, Luton et el being truly multicultural. So my question is: Wasn’t it a forlorn and pointless fight that prevented assimilation in the north? The pattern being set in Britain was multiculturalism, liberalism, globalism.’

    …it goaded me.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Jayzuss! Listen to yourself! All migrants are rapists now? Doesn’t rape occur among the so called indigenous population? I guess you have to live in a bubble to sustain your blind bigotry. My advice to you is trace your own ancestry to the most recent immigrant forebear, go travelling and learn another language. You might run the risk of becoming somewhat rounded and, dare I say it, open minded.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Yes. How did this manage to go so off topic?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Entirely believable anecdote.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Anyhoo, back to the topic at hand…

    If memory serves (not that I was at any of the events) but has ‘republicanism’ not always been spurred into action by the wake of radical global events?

    E.g. United Irishmen – American revolution and French revolution

    1848 – Similar unrest all throughout Europe (resulting in the Ringstrasse design in Vienna)

    Early 20th century – A combination of reaction to unionism and various left wing movements throughout Europe (funnily enough, as was alluded to in Downton Abbey of all things)

    1970s – I really don’t need to….

    And now, after a few years of unionists constantly gloating about nationalist apathy we find Brexit as a potential shot in the arm for republicanism.

    But fear not unionists, our dynamic leaders are gifted in terms of foresight and long term thinking and ALWAYS learn from their mistakes…

    Or is that the Japanese I’m thinking of? Aye, must be the Japanese, sorry…

  • Zorin001

    Right lads come on now, there’s over 60 posts in this thread and I can count on one hand the number that are actually relevant to Micks original post. There’s plenty of other threads you can take this discussion to.

    I was hoping for a lively debate about a historical period I have a personal interest in and some familiar knowledge of. Instead I’ve been treated to a Trump thread by self, take it to were it’s relevant for gods sake.

  • Am Ghobsmacht
  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    While the days of glorification of the ‘heroic’ ‘armed struggle’ have passed, the morally ‘questionable’ nature of the IRA campaign does not elude its former protagonists in the present day. I guess that’s progress of sorts.
    I agree that full disclosure won’t be forthcoming in our future. It might require a full amnesty to achieve that.
    What interests me in what Conway states is not so much any attempt at justifying his decisions and undisclosed actions but his admission to being swept up in some sort of mob mentality that lasted much longer than the length of an average riot. He is confessing to a strong sense of suggestibility which we all can be prey to due to new global movements emerging but that kind of response is relatively short lived. So where’s his explanation for his lengthy (deluded) participation?
    That the IRA carried on in such a cynical (as opposed to idealistic or necessitated) way until the GFA and after strongly indicates that the ra had moved a long way from any noble cause spouted by Conway above: a kind of arrogantly willed sense of martyrdom à la Padraig Pearse, post Cheyne Walk talks. My sense is that the boul Kieran was actually overcompensating for his shame for coming from a privileged background: a protracted apology for being posh – so let’s kill loadsa folks. Oh well, he’s firmly back in the ranks of the educated middle classes now. Well done for coming full circle and you don’t need to show your calculations on the examination paper!

  • Enda

    Something does seem to be stirring on the horizon. I hope nationalism does get wakened from it’s slumber, but I don’t want to see a return to bombs and guns, as I’m sure most people don’t.

    I’ve always found what you mentioned to be true, that external events do inspire Irish nationalism to some extent, from the rebellion of Robert Emmett, to the Civil Rights movement inspired by the African American Civil Rights movement. Who’s knows what form Irish politics will take in the face of the current external factors.

    I think the next few years will be very interesting to say the least…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What he said.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Similar thoughts to myself AG. Just a few notes of caution: desire for Irish independence and Irish Republicanism might be too easily conflated, the late 18thC was a time of oath bound secret societies, Orange order, United Irishmen, French Revolutionaries (Tennis Court Oath etc). My latter point is that influences are largely internal in these bodies. While succour might be gained from say Thomas F Meagher’s presentation of the tricolour during a visit to France, a sense of changing justice is what pervades these global agitations for change. The years after WWII brought about independence movements in other parts of the world but had little impact on sleepy Ireland either North or South.

  • austin mcclafferty

    The butterfly affect was motive for some on Kierans side of the street.

  • Katyusha

    Why should you have to accept free movement of people to remove trade barriers?

    Because that’s the price of joining the club. If you join the club, you play by their rules. Why should the EU permit grant the UK favourable trading arrangements for free? If you want freedom trade the price is freedom movement. If you don’t want to accept the membership fees and conditions, you don’t get the benefits that come with being a member of the club.

  • Katyusha

    Of course it is. The entire aim of the EU is political and social change.

    Namely, political and social change away from a mindset that had the European nations locked in hereditary warfare and almost destroyed each other on several occasions through the 19th and 20th centuries – not to mention the havoc our internecine warfare wreaked on the world at large.

    The EU is a political and economic structure designed to integrate the European nations, through making them dependant in each other through trade, and through exchange of people, to avoid the shadow of warfare on the continent being cast over us ever again. It’s unashamed about that aim and has been largely successful in that respect.

  • Katyusha

    1848 – Similar unrest all throughout Europe (resulting in the Ringstrasse design in Vienna)

    Now that is interesting. I never realised such a plan was designed to counteract rebellion. Thanks for the detail, AG!

  • eireanne3

    here’s one step forward (maybe) in your hopes for a “lively debate about an historical period” – compare and contrast the Conway Hardtalk interview with a supergrass Gilmour/Nolan show interview, interspersed with contemporary comments from the late belfast political commentator, economist Andrew Boyd https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/the-provisional-ira-and-informers-the-way-we-were/

  • eireanne3

    hausmann’s boulevards in paris had the same type of underlying thinking behind them

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    If I recall correctly old Grey Whiskers was prepared to let the proles eat cake but his generals wanted a pretty funnel of a kill zone lest they try any monkey business again.

    I read it in ‘Last Waltz in Vienna’, a book that paints De Valeran Galway in the bleakest possible terms.

    I can’t be sure but I THINK there might be a similar Habsburg design in Chernowitz/Chernivtsi in northern Bukovina, Ukraine ( I can’t remember, I was trying to escape the country on a pittance…)

  • Paddy Reilly

    When a “fellow loyalist working class Irishman” (I think you mean “fellow working class Irishman who happens to be a Loyalist”) is attempting to burn down your house, you will attempt to deter him. Under normal conditions you would just call the police, but when the police are as bad as he is, you might try using arms, if you have any.

    This of course leads to more permanent damage than optimally you would have intended. But people get very emotional about their houses and what is in them.

    We can see how this developed in the Sutton index:-

    http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/chron/1969.html

    The names Roy Herbert, David Linton, John Todd killed by a “non-specific Republican Group” (i.e. householders with access to a gun) are the sort of people I refer to.

    The left solidarity of the working class which you allege PIRA split existed purely in the imagination of the OIRA. Loyalists automatically side with Unionists and the Union. Back in 1969 there was not the glimmer of the makings of any sort of pan working class alliance. Ireland has never been sufficiently industrialised for this to be possible.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Did you? Did you really?

    Tell us, did you also wonder why it was that the ‘loyalists’ thought that deliberately targeting Catholic civilians to the degree that 87.2% of everyone they killed was a civilian was going to achieve anything positive?

    Deaths by category;

    Security Forces : 1039

    Republican Activists : 395

    Loyalist Activists : 167

    Catholic Civilians : 1259

    Protestant Civilians : 727

    Unknown : 160

    Or in your personal view do only the transgressions of one side count, despite the fact that the other side were responsible for the initial outbreak of violence which began the Troubles?

  • mickfealty

    Thanks for the warning!!!

  • mickfealty

    It was Conway’s almost random path into the war that struck me as a particularly authentic retelling of the period. The Border campaign before it was deliberately set on the Border and away from Belfast precisely to avoid such an eventuality (because the IRA leadership at the time knew exactly where it would lead).

    Belfast was dragged in as in unthought out tactical move to open up a second front away from Derry. It ended up being the main front for a whole generation.

  • mickfealty

    Does it mention the attack on Agnew’s there Paddy?

  • Starviking

    Like anything to do with people, there are a number of factors at work. One which has bearing on this is the fact that the republican paramilitaries’ primary targets wore uniforms and walked about on the streets in them. The home of them were also usually well-known.

    The above should not be construed to provide support for loyalist targeting of catholic civilians, especially as I fit in that category.

  • Paddy Reilly

    No, so presumably it did not occasion any deaths. (Correct: Agnew’s car dealership was attacked on 13th August 1969: the Cain Index lists no deaths on that day.)

  • billypilgrim1

    There are many, many things one can and must condemn PIRA for.

    But the fact that they didn’t morph into a bunch of gibbering Marxist loons like OIRA did is one of the few things you can say in their favour.

  • billypilgrim1

    I think facing disciplinary action at work – which always has implications for your livelihood – for saying ‘Packie Bonner’ is pretty serious, and your mockery is misplaced.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Of course it is. The entire aim of the EU is political and social change.”

    What you are describing there is revolutionary change. Revolutions have a pretty poor record in terms of the avoidance of war.

    I’m not sure it’s axiomatic that the EU is our guarantee against European war. I’m not sure there’s an example of where war would have happened, but was averted because of the EU. I’m also pretty sure the rise of far right movements in eastern and southern Europe, and perhaps even France, is directly the fault of the EU.

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘outbreed’? is this the old canard again? I think you’ve revealed your true colours with this.

  • Hugh Davison

    It was a terrifying time for some. Here in Cork I still meet refugees from Bombay Street.

  • Jollyraj

    Surely being a member of a violent, criminal organization would bar one from a career in the legal profession? What am I missing here?

  • Paddy Reilly

    During the great conflicts of the Thatcher era, there were massive outdoor conflicts between the workers (miners, and print workers) and the police. From this we deduce that the police do not actually represent the working class, but are the agents of some other interest, traditionally called the Bourgeoisie.

    The Sutton index of deaths I supplied showed that the troubles in 1969 consisted mainly in fatal attacks on Catholics, accidental shootings plus a handful of cases where a Protestant attacking a dwelling was shot in defence of same. However in 1970 and 1971, in the lead up to Bloody Sunday there were a substantial number of shootings of policemen by the PIRA. They may have felt that by attacking the agents of the Bourgeoisie they were not attacking the Loyalist working class. If so, they were mistaken. You cannot divide the Protestant working class in Northern Ireland from the agents of the state. They are part of a seamless endogamous whole.

    Experience teaches that the workers do not form infrangible alliances in the way that Trade Union officials want them to. Blue collar workers of white origin in the U.S. particularly dislike Latino immigrants, whom they see as taking their jobs. Yet they will vote for Donald Trump, a Billionaire whose elevator or front door is entirely plated in gold.

  • billypilgrim1

    “…PIRA did a good job in further splitting the left…”

    The Stickies really lost their marbles when they started to think “working class” and “left” were synonymous, and so concluded that the fucking UDA were natural allies, alienated only by those pesky Provos.

    Gibbering loons. They were and are cowardly too, but with a real vicious streak. Their analysis had a lot more to do with the north of Korea than the north of Ireland.

  • billypilgrim1

    My point was anti-OIRA, not pro-PIRA.

  • Anglo-Irish

    In what possible way does ‘draw up figures of the death list ‘ prove your point?

    Those figures were shown simply to reply to your comment ” and still have to understand why PIRA thought killing fellow working class Irish would achieve anything. ”

    They didn’t act in that way because of some socialist working class ideal. Initially it was a defensive response to ‘loyalist’ attacks on their community, and then in time as they got stronger became another ‘ fight for the cause’.

    The socialist talking shop was mainly confined to the Old IRA.

    To their eternal shame they got dragged into a ‘tit for tat’ killing spree aimed at innocent protestants, but as the figures show the ‘loyalists’ were the main culprits in targeting civilians based on their background.

  • Anglo-Irish

    I think that we can all agree that no one came out smelling of roses with honour intact from the Troubles.

    It is annoying however when facts – such as the timeline of events – are ignored in order to try to lay blame to a greater degree on one particular side when reality would suggest otherwise.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Originally designed with cavalry in mind they turned out equally suitable for tanks when the Wehrmacht rolled up in June 1940.

  • mickfealty

    Yep, and after.

  • mickfealty

    You might choose to see it like that, but it was a key trigger for what followed in Belfast. A tactical turn at the time, which gave rise to a strategic nightmare for all concerned.

  • billypilgrim1

    “You seem to be saying that the protestant loyalist working class were fair game for PIRA.”

    He doesn’t say that at all.

    Even PIRA didn’t say that, though sometimes their actions indicated otherwise.

  • Skibo

    Some would look at the actions of the 1916 rising coming from commemorations of the centenary of the 1798 rebellion. We are in the middle of similar centenary commemorations. Hopefully the direction of change this time will be peaceful.
    That, along with the changing demographics would indicate a very interesting decade ahead of us.

  • Skibo

    James every war is full of murdering bastards. WW2 showed that on both sides. Not only of murdering the other side but suicidally forcing soldiers up out of trenches into German machine guns. While the British Generals did not pull the triggers, their actions did lead to millions of dead. Purely cannon fodder. I suppose eventually the machine guns would run out of ammo!

  • Enda

    It does seem sometimes that things come full circle, and 100 years is a nice round number. I think change will come to our little Island, and I hope it’s for the better.

    In the words of George Santayana, ‘Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it’, although sometimes the same could be said for those who remember it too, and then there are those amongst us who would prefer to still live in it, cough-arlene-cough.

    As for a revolutionary movement like the one that happened in 1969, I’m not so sure. I wasn’t alive then to truly experience the atmosphere, but the same precursors just don’t exist for a mass movement of people to become invigorated to that extent.

    But then again politics is a sea prone to changeable conditions.

  • Katyusha

    It never properly industrialised, not in the traditional sense. It’s more like it sat out for so long, it missed the first and second industrial revolutions, the subsequent post-industrial decline, and happened to be well-placed for the third one. As cute as ever, the southern establishment.

  • Mike the First

    Hang on a minute Paddy.

    You name three men who were killed in this period, and explicitly paint each of their deaths as them trying to burn down a house and a “very emotional” householder shooting them dead (“attempt[ing] to deter him”).

    I looked up their stories in Lost Lives, and none of the accounts says that was the case. For those of David Linton and Jack Todd, it couldn’t be clearer that this isn’t what happened at all.

    David Linton was killed on his own street (Palmer Street), seemingly at a barricade at the end of the street put up by residents. The account given in Lost Lives, drawing heavily on the Scarman report, details the inter-factional violence in terms of missile-throwing (into and out of Palmer Street) and eventually gunfire that night.

    Jack Todd was shot dead at close range after a meeting between Protestant and Catholic vigilante groups, walking back to the barricade at the Protestant side. The details of what exactly happened were disputed between the two sides.

    Where did you get your version from?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Well there we are. It comes from the Sutton index http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/chron/1969.html, which seems very certain that the trio were killed by a ‘non-specific Republican group’. A certain amount of de mortuis nihil nisi prius is to be expected. We are left with the anomaly that whole streets of Catholic owned houses were burnt down and there was no lethal retaliation, while those Protestants who did end up dead were purer than the driven snow and assassinated by a mysterious Republican organisation called the Non-specifics. Or maybe not. The description you give suggests that no-one knows where the bullets that took them down came from.

    So we are left with the conclusion that during 1969, the first year of the troubles, all the victims were either Catholic, or Protestants who were killed by the security forces, or by Loyalist terrorists, or in unknown circumstances that suggest one or the other of these. If the IRA existed it had no guns in Belfast, and thus cannot be held to have originated the troubles of the 70s and 80s.

  • Skibo

    Enda, around the time of 1969 there were a number of areas round the world where revolution was rife. Those who had achieved their revolution were supporters of others who wanted the same. Even those within the USA were in support of revolution. God knows they still are if that revolution destabilises unfavourable juntas.
    Today all has changed. the Taliban and ISIS have made revolution a dirty word. For countries to use any means necessary to put down uprisings, all they have to do is link the instigators with ISIS.
    I do not foresee a violent change in governance in NI. Rather it will be incremental with certain elements within Unionism fighting tooth and nail against it.
    The very same Unionist defenders who castigated Republicans with the terrorist name will quite happily say reunification should not happen because of the violent backlash from Loyalist communities.