Essay

Licence to Kill?

By: Mirela Meister-Terzaki

The Troubles in Northern Ireland: a topic that has captured the attention of the entire European continent. Blood curdling events, senseless bombings, tit-for-tat shootings & atrocities that sounded the death knell for 3,700 innocent people; but also information about British Intelligence Services colluding with Loyalist {Unionist} Death Squads -as revealed in  “LICENCE TO MURDER”  documentary- are a drop in the ocean compared to what witnesses of that bleak era could narrate. Not until the reader has delved deep into the deep resentment of Catholics, who felt the were systematically discriminated against & the apprehension of Unionists, worried about Protestant dominance being touch-and-go can the Troubles be brought to light. With Unionists accepting partition of Ireland so that Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK & Nationalists quashing it so that it would be united to the Irish Republic (Eire), the next blast seemed to be around the corner. Reprisals & counter-reprisals were on the daily agenda -and the world recoiled in horror… 

         FREEDOM FIGHTERS or RUTHLESS TERRORISTS?

Were the IRA shoring up the nationalist community & waging war against injustice or merely leaving behind then a trail of devastation in their wake? On Bloody Sunday (1972), which spurred the British Army to enter the no-go areas of Belfast & Londonderry, one wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole. “Crime is Crime is Crime” Thatcher wouldn’t even dream of granting prisoner-of-war status to those jailed in Maize prison for paramilitary-related crimes. Were really those Catholics (Nationalists) who belligerently fought for Northern Ireland to be united to the Irish Republic (Eire), freedom fighters or ruthless terrorists? And were really those Protestants (Unionists) who wished it to remain part of the UK, British or Irish? 

              TO BE (British) OR NOT TO BE (British) ?

A graffiti artist unwittingly replied through a scribbling on a derelict wall:

“You Brits! Out of Ireland!”

“But I was born here!”

“Then you are Irish; not British!”

By all accounts, the English of English birth felt superior to the English of Irish birth; such a stick-in-the mud attitude was what former Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid tried to dismiss as out of place in today’s multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan Britain. He wholeheartedly promised to ascertain that both those of an Irish background or an Irish consciousness would have their rights protected -irrespective of background; although this “Under Siege” mentality had been the name of the game for nearly half a century & applied to both nations -as the Republicans also felt outgunned and outpowered by the British. 

Is the conflict in Northern Ireland {only the most tempestuous years -from 1970 to 2010- are described in this booklet} between two nationalities so close to each other both in terms of geography & genetic make-up ever justified?

                    HOW REAL is the ‘REAL IRA’ ?

After marathon negotiations & a series of false starts, the Hillsborough Castle agreement (an improvement on the Good Friday agreement) was signed by the two former foes on 6th Feb. 2010, ending the stalemate. The Real Ira’s chilling admission that it was behind the sinister bomb attack outside M15’s headquarters on 12th April 2010 sowed dissension on Devolution Day. Staged an hour after policing & justice powers were transferred from Westminster to Stormont {in accordance with the Hillsborough Castle agreement}, it made Devolution Day go down in Irish history as D-Day.

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Categories: Essay

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