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I am not enough of a historian to produce a precise timeline of events, but the argument made on Slugger by Brian Walker, and not refuted, is that most of the very necessary civil rights reforms had been conceded before the IRA campaign really got going. He does concede the ending of Stormont majoritarian rule can be put down to the upsurge of violence, but argues that it would have happened sooner or later anyway.

(Brian Walker was a BBC journalist covering N. Ireland for much of the period, so he had access to many of the key players, and was close at hand for many of the key events).

As with any counterfactual, it is possible for objective and informed observers to come to different conclusions. My own view is that "the armed struggle" went on for many years long after it had become counter-productive, and that any initial gains have been eclipsed by a long history of frozen conflict since, which has barely moved the situation forward in 25 years.

But my main point is that, if judged against their own war aims, the armed struggle was an abject failure. The attempt to force the British to withdraw and concede a united Ireland through violent action was never going to succeed, and only succeeded in reinforcing the British/unionist alliance and consolidating cross class unionist unity - something which is still playing out today.

Even 25 years after the armed struggle ended, achieving a positive and consensual united Ireland is still an enormous task, because there has been very little real reconciliation on the ground. That is in large part the legacy of the war, and it will take several generations to subside.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 23rd, 2022 at 11:44:37 PM EST
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