Steve-O-in NJ has authored another of his periodic epics, this time in response to the George Floyd-triggered civil unrest, finding an analogy in the long, ugly history of civil upheaval in Northern Ireland. For once, I’m going to show some restraint and let a Comment of the Day speak entirely for itself.
Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Saturday Morning Ethics, 5/30/2020: Burn, Baby, Burn Nostalgia”:
In 1969, which is outside living memory for a lot of folks now, the long-standing civil rights issues in Derry, Northern Ireland, came to a head in a series of demonstrations by nationalist Catholics and unionist Protestants, which resulted in violence by both sides against both sides, due to the anger and hate they possessed. The RUC, not yet the highly trained force they would become, initially did not handle it too well. The action quickly took on the character of an outbreak of civil war, with the throwing of Molotov cocktails, the use of CS gas, and ultimately firearm discharge (this was before police in Northern Ireland were armed as a matter of course). In two days it looked like the city would be torn apart, and the rioting only stopped when the Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment of Yorkshire landed and forced the sides apart. Miraculously no lives were lost, although about 350 police officers and about a thousand riot participants were injured. That’s before we even talk about fires and property damage.
Little did everyone involved know this was the beginning of the 37 year conflict that would be known as the Troubles and see the British Army’s longest deployment in the form of Operation Banner. The first few years were particularly ugly with ongoing low-level conflict and no-go areas for the authorities. Finally after 1972’s Bloody Sunday (which everyone talks about) and Bloody Friday (22 IRA bombings in less than an hour and a half) which no one talks about, the British Army launched Operation Motorman to reclaim the no-go areas. The IRA was not equipped for open warfare like that, and quickly melted into the countryside, there to reorganize into the terrorism cells that would have a hard time doing anything too big or coordinated, but also be hard to root out and destroy, getting money, arms, and whatever else needed from those sympathetic to the cause or just looking to weaken an American ally.
The rest is history, and it has been relegated to the history books since 1998, when the IRA realized that, although a determined minority can often get their way, this wasn’t one of those times. It wasn’t 1922 anymore, the Cold War was over, outside aid was drying up, and the idea of one insurgency defeating the UK and establishing a united Ireland was a pipe dream. Continue reading