Northern Ireland's Fragile Peace

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The first attack, on Saturday night, could have been dismissed as a rogue operation conducted by dead-enders in either the Continuity IRA or the Real IRA. Sapper Mark Quinsey, 23, and Sapper Patrick Azimkar, 21, both British army soldiers, were shot dead outside the gates of Massereene barracks in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Throughout the 1990s, terrorism experts often speculated after individual terrorist outrages that governments must be watchful of diluted versions of the Rote Armee Fraktion, Brigade Rosa, and the November 17 group reconstituting and continuing harassment of those judged to be ideological and class enemies. Thankfully, such warnings proved unnecessary, as initial fear-mongering in the wake of Saturday's Antrim attack seemed to be. But 48 hours later, two members of the extreme republican Continuity IRA approached the vehicle of Police Constable Stephen Carroll, who was responding to a domestic violence call, and shot him in the head. He was killed instantly. (According to Sky News, two arrests were made today in the case.)

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, former member of the IRA army council, was "fanning the flames" of sectarianism, according The Daily Telegraph, by "sidestep[ing] a call to directly condemn the shootings." Watch the video interview with Adams and Martin McGuiness, embedded at the top of this story, in which Adams dances pirouettes around a direct condemnation of the murder of British soldiers (why denounce something that made your career, after all?) and, instead, laments the "unworthiness of this action" and the "counter-productive attack on the peace process." In contrast, Thomas Burns, SDLP MLA from South Antrim, who is the representative of the main, moderate Catholic party in Northern Ireland, was unequivocal: "This was a particularly brutal and horrific attack. Two families are in mourning as a result of this despicable action. I wish to send my deepest and sincerest sympathies to those concerned."

For those interested in the conflict in Northern Ireland, I can recommend two outstanding new books on the subject. Kevin Myers' Watching the Door, recently released in the U.S. by Soft Skull Press, is a terrific, touching memoir of covering the conflict in Belfast during the height of the "Troubles." Myers is equally hostile to Catholic and Protestant terrorism.  As yet unavailable in America (but easily obtained from Amazon.co.uk) is Henry McDonald's spectacular Gunsmoke and Mirrors: How Sinn Fein Dressed Up Defeat as Victory, which argues that the IRA/Sinn Fein achieved none of its political goals.

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  1. Well, shit.

  2. Before I read the article, a quick point.

    Both Redstate and Little Green Footballs, both sites that piss all over themselve about Islamic terrorism anywhere on the planet have been completely silent about a terroirist attack in Great Britain on the soldiers of our closest ally.

  3. It’s got to be the economics. When Ireland started becoming all prosperous, the attacks fell off. Now, things are taking a slide, and we get attacks.

  4. Like a good American, I’m a mongrel. Still, I identify myself as Irish and have this to say to both the scumbag cowardly terrorists and the disingenous Gerry Adams.

    Fuck you, you monkey ass licking evil bastards. Die in a fire and burn in hell you pig cocksucking sociopathic vermin.

  5. This is so fucked. Here’s hoping it doesn’t become totally fucked beyond all control.

    But I have to believe that aside from the lunatics at the margins, the consensus amongst the broad middle is for peace. I have to believe this is just a small group of lunatics going on a murderous rampage. Evil, tragic, but not the stuff that destroys societies.

  6. I’m 50% Irish. My grandparents left during the Irish Civil War in 1922.

    Never paid much attention to it until recently, when I watched the 2007 film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. If you really want to figure out the viewpoint of the Irish Republicans, I would recommend it. Excellent movie.

    That said, I refuse to get sucked into the propaganda of either side, especially since the IRA has always aligned itself with the militant Left.

    Also, the secrtarian violence pretty much guarenteed that the protestant majority in N. Ireland would never, ever, want to join a majority catholic state.

  7. The UK govt’s proportion of GDP in Nth Ireland is ~ 75% or something crazy. They should just give it to Ireland and let them deal with it.

  8. One feels that this is a fragile time
    as such one feels that this is no moment for rash decisions,
    no time for demagoguery,
    tragic events such as these open old wounds
    and with them there is always the opportunity for calls to stoke the flames of what has been a painful and mindless conflict

    regarding this it is of the paramount importance that we act in a reasoned and measured manner to these violent acts

    one suspects that the correct and indeed proportional response is the use of a limited nuclear attack on Paris, Calais and maybe Cannes

    I stress a limited nuclear response

    It wouldn’t be just to eradicate the entire French race

    There are many fine French people
    Mc Solaar regularly drops some dope rhymes which brighten ones evenings no end

    we just need to send the message that the British empire will not tolerate the consumption of Amphibians legs and strange foreign language films that just go on and on and on with nothing happening
    then someone kills themselves and there’s like no Sir Micheal Caine. Its a well known fact that Easy Rider was the last and only decent film to win at Cannes.

  9. As yet unavailable in America (but easily obtained from Amazon.co.uk)

    I hear you can get DVDs at this site as well…

  10. Yo, fuck the Continuity IRA!

  11. Throughout the 1990s, terrorism experts often speculated after individual terrorist outrages that governments must be watchful of diluted versions of the Rote Armee Fraktion, Brigade Rosa, and the November 17 group reconstituting and continuing harassment of those judged to be ideological and class enemies. Thankfully, such warnings proved unnecessary, as initial fear-mongering in the wake of Saturday’s Antrim attack seemed to be.

    I don’t think an attack on soldiers is generally considered to be terrorism. Perhaps the word is no longer restricted to description of attacks on civilians, but I think it’s useful to preserve the distinction. You can condemn the attacks without labeling them terrorism.

  12. Some in Ireland are now speculating that the RIRA and the CIRA are just the PIRA with a new initial. I always wondered why the Provos, before they ‘put their arms beyond use’, didn’t kill off the ‘dissidents’ to preserve the peace they had negotiated with the UK and ROI via Sinn Fein. Seemed the only sensible reason to hang onto the guns and bombs. Well, I guess there are senseless reasons, too.

    By the way, the SDLP is no longer the ‘main’ Catholic/Nationalist party in the North anymore. They were overtaken by Sinn Fein years ago – just like the DUP surpassed the more moderate Ulster Unionists. They haven’t achieved moderation in Northern Ireland, they’ve just normalised the extremists up in Stormont.

    And Kevin Myers is an asshole. I don’t care how good his book is.

  13. I don’t think an attack on soldiers is generally considered to be terrorism.

    It is a war crime, I suppose, when conducted by illegal combatants.

    All told, I think people tend to regard all attacks by “terrorist” organizations as terrorism. Lay down with dogs, and all that.

  14. They haven’t achieved moderation in Northern Ireland, they’ve just normalised the extremists up in Stormont.

    Or the extremists have gotten more moderate.

    PIRA seems to have gone through the same evolution that the 1920s IRA did. You had one group accept a compromise, a splinter group split off to keep fighting, and then eventually the spliter group evolves to a position where they compromise, another splinter group forms, etc. PIRA kind of evolved from the anti-Treaty IRA, after that group kind of wound down, too.

  15. Weird. I’ve just been reading “Getting Past The Troubles” in the latest edition of Smithsonian.

    So much for getting past The Troubles…

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