‘Church helped reduce Troubles’ retaliation’

The News letter has an article on an interview with Professor Henry Patterson conducted by the Church of Ireland Gazette. Professor Patterson has been researching the border Protestants of Co. Fermanagh; some extracts of his comments are below the fold.

“One thing that strikes me, particularly in Fermanagh, is the lack of tit-for-tat retaliation. There’s very, very little of that. It was a very restrained response.”

Prof Patterson said that he believed the Church as an institution, but also Christian values, had played a role in restraining victims from seeking retribution.

“People’s religious values play a role. Some of the people I’ve talked to have said this, in terms of the sanctity of human life, respect for law and order, authority and issues like that.

It’s fashionable now to go on about the UDR being infiltrated and collusion and all these things.

I think that in somewhere like Fermanagh one of the functions of the UDR and traditional leadership of the Unionist Party was actually to ensure that people didn’t respond in a tit-for-tat way; that they left the response to the security forces – even at a time when a lot of people thought the security forces weren’t protecting them enough.

There is a tradition in border areas and in particular in Fermanagh and south Tyrone of service in the security forces, in the B Specials and then after 1970 in the Ulster Defence Regiment and in the Reserve of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Because many of these people were part time it made them easy targets and right from the beginning the IRA picked on them and targeted them.”

As the News Letter notes many of these experiences are mirrored in the CoI’s Hard Gospel report “Whatever you say: say nothing.” which I have blogged on before.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.