Leaving the China shop, quietly…

Just reading back around the circumstances under which British troops landed on the streets of Northern Ireland, what strikes you is the number of tragic incidents that had happened in the run up to their arrival. Lost Lives records that of the nineteen fatalities of that year, eight of them (almost a fifth of the total fatalities attributed to the force over the following thirty years) had been killed by a tiny ‘peacetime’ RUC, you get a measure of why they were sent. More over at Comment is Free.

  • Cruimh

    Mick – a figure that is rarely mentioned, but that is even more a measure of why the army was used on the streets, was that in 1969 of a police force of 3,000 officers, 1700 required hospital treatment for injuries received on duty.

  • willowfield

    Yes – the Army was sent in because the police simply couldn’t cope with all the rioting.

  • lib2016

    Unfortunately according to official inquiries the people who were doing the rioting were the RUC & the B Specials.

  • Cruimh

    very droll lib 🙂

  • heck

    quite right lib

    everyone knows how good our brave RUC officers were, and what a good wee ulster it was.

  • Rory (South Derry)

    Who cares why they came!

    Thankly they have now got the message (Brits OUT) even though its38 years later!

    Now can we have a disengagement of all strategic and economic interests or is this just more token gestures to appease our friends in PSF!

    TOTAL Disengagement and nothing short is acceptable- Roll on the day this happens!

  • mytriumph

    Mick,
    Was that the first time in Ireland in the 20th century that the British army was welcomed as restorers or order only to have, by some purely accidental and totally unavoidable incident totally alienate the population they had ostensibly come to protect? Fairly similar to 1916? And the result? HMG continues to retain controll of the make up of the Irish state, regardless of the wishes of the Irish people. But I’m sure this is all evolutionary in nature, no intelligent design here.

  • Turgon

    Rory (South Derry),
    “TOTAL Disengagement and nothing short is acceptable”. What about the fact that unionists do not want total disengagement of all strategic and economic interests? or do we not have the right to a view?

    Your views on this thread seem somewhat divergent to those on the “Difference of opinion in Derry” thread. “The Brits are choosing to withdraw numbers of their own accord!
    Richard Walsh of RSF must be commended for his lateral thinking – Yes the Brits can return at any time of their choosing.”

    To many unionists your post can be easily translated to “Prods out”, I trust you can assure me that you are not saying such a thing.

  • Aquifer

    “HMG continues to retain controll of the make up of the Irish state, regardless of the wishes of the Irish people”

    Hardly. The recent acts of democratic self-determination in Ireland are a clear acceptance that NI remains in the UK for now.

    This rush to re-write history should at least wait until ink is dry, for fear of appearing undemocratic and, well, un-irish.

    But maybe the clue is in the extra ‘l’ in ‘controll’

  • Dewi

    It was all a dream. Not of course – but maybe that’s the way to think of it.

  • sven

    Surely the BA were sent in to prevent rampaging protestant thugs backed up by the ruc from attacking innocent catholics in their own homes.Glad that all worked out ok then!

  • Harry Flashman

    Maybe my memory is at fault but as I recall the first troops to actually go on the streets were the men of the Prince of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment whose job was to protect the city centre of Derry from a burning, looting riotous mob of Nationalists from the Bogside. Said mob had started their activity two days earlier when they attacked a perfectly peaceful Apprentice Boys march.

    In two days of rioting they pretty much burned down William Street and surrounding streets and injured three hundred or so RUC men. The Civil Rights movement in order to “take pressure” off these Derry rioters then appealed for Nationalists around the North and especially in Belfast to rise up and start riots elsewhere (Jeez now wasn’t that a brilliant strategy?). The Nationalists did so starting riots in Armagh, Newry, Dungiven and in a stroke of sheer genius Belfast too.

    Thus confirming in the minds of already feverish Loyalists that the Civil Rights movement were indeed intent on fomenting a Republican uprising to overthrow the state. When the Nationalists began rioting in the Divis area the consequences would not have taken Einstein to predict and mobs of Loyalists began attacking and burning homes and businesses (kind of like what the Derry Nationalists had been doing for the previous two days).

    In such a situation civil war seemed inevitable and only the arrival of the army prevented it and much thanks they were to get from either side for the next thirty years.

    Please feel free to point out the historical inaccuracies in the above.

  • Cruimh

    That’s a fair summary Harry – God help you, you just whacked Shambo!

  • Mick Fealty

    According to Jonathan Bardon, the order to the streets was given at midday, and he has the 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Regiment in Belfast by late afternoon. Other accounts have the Prince of Wales Regiment on the streets of Derry.

  • Harry Flashman

    As I understood it the PoW Own were on the streets on the afternoon of the 14th August in Derry, it was only on the night of the 14th that the rioting in Belfast kicked off and the Queens were then deployed.