The origins and development of the anglo-irish conflict



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Terrorism in Ireland

THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ANGLO-IRISH CONFLICT

In August 1969, the British Army was ordered to increase its presence in Northern Ireland in an effort to quell a series of riots. (See map in Figure 6.1.) Although the British Army had maintained bases in Northern Ireland for a while, riotous situations in Londonderry and Belfast were suddenly far beyond the control of local police and the handful of British regular soldiers stationed in the area. On August 18, 1969, British Army reinforcements began arriving, hoping to avoid a long-term conflict. Their hopes were in vain. The British Army would soon become embroiled in a new outbreak of a war that had spanned centuries.

Ireland has not been completely ruled by the Irish since a series of Viking incursions in 800 C.E. Giovani Costigan (1980) writes that Irish culture originated with Celtic invasions three centuries before Christ. The Irish settled in tribal groups, and government was maintained through kinship and clans. No Celtic ruler or political authority ever united Ireland as a single entity.

In about 500 C.E., the Irish were introduced to Christianity and became some of the most fervent converts in the world. The medieval church played a large role in uniting Ireland, but the traditional Gaelic tribal groups still remained separate. They submitted to a central religion, not a central political system. The relations among Gaelic tribes became important when Viking raiders began to attack Ireland in about 800 C.E. The divided Irish were dominated by their Viking rulers, and the Norsemen used Ireland as a trading base and center of commerce. The Vikings built several Irish cities, including Dublin.

Viking rule of Ireland was challenged in 1014, when a tribal chieftain, Brian Boru, was declared High King of Ireland. He led a united tribal army against the Vikings and defeated them at Clontarf. Fate ruled against the Irish, however. At the end of the battle as King Brian knelt in prayer, he was assassinated. Dreams of a united Ireland crumbled with Brian Boru’s death, and the clans and tribes soon divided leadership again.

Costigan (1980) believes this paved the way for a gradual Norman invasion of Ireland. The Normans were the descendants of William the Conqueror and had ambitions for extending their domains. With the Irish divided and the Viking influence limited, Normans began to stake out territorial claims on the island with the permission of the Norman king. The Normans were particularly successful in Ireland because they used new methods of warfare. By 1172, the Norman king of England had assumed the rule of Ireland.

The Normans and the Irish struggled in a way that was not reflective of modern fighting. The Normans could not maintain the field force necessary to control the Irish peasants, and the Irish did not have the technology that would allow them to attack smaller Norman forces barricaded in castles. Therefore, the Normans built castles to control Irish cities, and Irish peasants generally dominated rural areas. This situation continued until the sixteenth century.

The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s had a tremendous impact on Ireland. Wanting to free himself from the ecclesiastical shackles of Rome, the English king, Henry VIII, created an independent Church of England. He followed up by creating a similar church in Ireland, but the Irish Catholics could not stomach this move. They began to rebel against the English king, and the troubles created by the Reformation have literally continued into the twenty-first century in Ireland.

The problems of the early Reformation were magnified by Henry’s daughter Elizabeth. Not content with merely ruling Ireland, Elizabeth I carved out the most prosperous agrarian section and gave it to her subjects to colonize: This resulted in the creation of the Plantation of Ulster. English and Scottish Protestants eventually settled there, displacing many of the original Irish inhabitants. This created an ethnic division in Ireland fueled by religious differences and animosities.

Costigan (1980) believes the 1600s in Ireland were dominated by three major issues. First, the Plantation of Ulster was expanded, and Irish peasants were systematically displaced. Many of them perished. Second, Oliver Cromwell came to Ireland to quell a revolt and stop Catholic attacks on Protestants. He literally massacred thousands of Irish Catholics, thanking God for granting him the opportunity to kill such a large number of his enemies. Cromwell’s name still stirs hatred as a result.

The third issue of the 1600s also involved Catholic and Protestant struggles, and the image of the conflict is still celebrated in ceremonies today. From 1689 to 1691, James II, the Catholic pretender to the British throne, used Ireland as a base from which to revolt against William of Orange, the English king. In August 1689, Irish Protestant skilled workers, called “Apprentice Boys,” were relieved by the English after defending Derry through a long siege by the pretender. The following year William defeated James at the battle of the Boyne River.

The revolt was over, but the Protestants were now forever in the camp of the House of Orange. The Protestants have flaunted these victories in the face of the Catholics since 1690. Each year they gather to militantly celebrate the battle of the Boyne and the Apprentice Boys with parades and demonstrations. It fuels the fire of hatred in Northern Ireland and demonstrates the division between Protestants and Catholics. In fact, the current troubles started in 1969, when riots broke out in Londonderry and Belfast following the annual Apprentice Boys parade.

The 1700s and early 1800s were characterized by waves of revolt, starvation, and emigration. Irish nationalists rose to challenge English rule, but they were always soundly defeated. Each generation seemed to bring a new series of martyrs willing to give their lives in the struggle against the English.

Among the best-known revolutionaries was Thomas Wolfe Tone. From 1796 to 1798, Wolfe Tone led a revolt based on Irish nationalism. He tried to appeal to both Protestants and Catholics in an attempt to form a unified front against Great Britain. Wolfe Tone argued that Irish independence was more important than religious differences. In the end, his revolt failed, but he had created a basis for appealing to nationalism over religion.

Despite the efforts of people like Wolfe Tone, religious animosity did not die in Ireland. During the late 1700s, Protestants and Catholics began to form paramilitary organizations. Divided along religious lines, these defense organizations began violently to confront one another. The Orange Orders were born in this period. Taking their name from William of Orange, these Protestant organizations vowed to remain unified with Great Britain. The Orange Lodges soon grew to dominate the political and social life of the north of Ireland.

The early 1800s brought a new level of political struggle to Ireland. In 1801, the British Parliament passed the Act of Union, designed to incorporate Ireland into the United Kingdom. Struggle over the act began to dominate Irish politics. Unionists, primarily the Orange Protestants in the North, supported the act, whereas republicans, who became known as Greens, argued for a constitutional government and an independent Ireland. Daniel O’Connell led the republican movement in the early part of the century, and Charles Stewart Parnell, a Protestant, created a democratic Irish party to support the cause in the late 1800s.

The struggle for republicanism accompanied one of the saddest periods in Irish history. Displaced from the land, Irish peasants were poor and susceptible to economic and agricultural fluctuations. Historian Cecil Woodham-Smith (1962) documents that Ireland had undergone a series of famines in the 1840s, as peasants in the country began to rely on the potato as their main crop. In 1845, the crop failed, and agricultural production among the peasants came to a standstill until 1848. Even though thousands of Irish people began to starve, wealthy farms in the North exported other crops for cash.

The 1845–1848 famine devastated Ireland. Its effects were felt primarily among the poor, especially among the Irish Catholics. In an era in which other industrialized nations were experiencing a tremendous rise in population, Ireland’s census dropped by 25 percent. As famine and disease took their toll, thousands of Irish people emigrated to other parts of the world. During this period, unionists in the North consolidated their hold on Ulster.

In the years following the famine, some members of the British Parliament sought to free Ireland from British control. They introduced a series of home rule acts designed to give Ireland independence. Charles Stewart Parnell and other republicans supported home rule, but they faced fierce opposition from unionists. The unionists were afraid home rule would shift the balance of economic power in the North. They believed continued union with Great Britain was their only option for economic success. Unionists were supported in British military circles.

Even though Parnell was a Protestant, most republicans were Catholics living in the southern portion of Ireland. Unionists tended to be Protestant skilled laborers, industrialists, and landlords in the North. The religious aspect of the conflict remained and was augmented by deep economic divisions.

Another aspect of the evolving conflict needs to be emphasized. By the nineteenth century, both the unionists and the republicans were fully Irish. This means neither side comprised transplanted settlers from another country, but the Catholics and the Protestants—despite all political differences—identified themselves as citizens of the Emerald Isle. Unionist Protestants in the North had lived in Ireland for generations, and they were as Irish as their Catholic counterparts. The unionists were able to call on Britain for help, but the struggle in Ireland began to take on the earmarks of an intra-Irish conflict. Irish unionists, usually Protestant, dominated the North, and Irish republicans, primarily Catholics, controlled the South.

THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY

By the twentieth century, the struggle in Ireland had become a matter of the divisions between unionists and republicans. A host of other conflicts was associated with this confrontation, but the main one was the unionist-republican struggle. The unionists often had the upper hand because they could call on support from the British-sponsored police and military forces. The republicans had no such luxury, and they searched for an alternative.

Costigan (1980) believes that the republican military solution to the Irish conflict was born in New York City in 1857. Irish Catholics had emigrated from their homeland to America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, but they never forgot the people they left behind. Irish immigrants in New York City created the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) as a financial relief organization for relatives in the old country. After the American Civil War, some Irish soldiers returning from the U.S. Army decided to take the struggle for emancipation back to Ireland. Rationalizing that they had fought for the North to free the slaves, they believed they should continue the struggle and free Ireland. The IRB gradually evolved into a revolutionary organization.

J. Bowyer Bell (1974) has written the definitive treatise on the origins and development of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He states it began with a campaign of violence sponsored by the IRB in the late 1800s. Spurred on by increased Irish nationalist feeling in the homeland and the hope of home rule, the IRB waged a campaign of bombing and assassination from 1870 until 1916. Its primary targets were unionists and British forces supporting the unionist cause. Among their greatest adversaries was the British-backed police force in Ireland, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).

The activities of the IRB frightened Irish citizens who wanted to remain united with Great Britain. For the most part, these Irish people were Protestant and middle-class, and they lived in the North. They gravitated toward their trade unions and social organizations, called Orange Lodges, to counter growing IRB sympathy and power. They enjoyed the sympathy of the British Army’s officer corps. They also controlled the RIC.

The Fenians (named after a mythical Irish hero, Finn McCool) of the IRB remained undaunted by unionist sentiment. Although Irish unionists seemed in control, the IRB had two trumps. First, IRB leadership was dominated by men who believed each generation had to produce warriors who would fight for independence. Some of these leaders, as well as their followers, were quite willing to be martyred to keep republicanism alive. In addition, the IRB had an organization. It not only served as a threat to British power, but it also provided the basis for the resurgence of Irish culture.

At the turn of the century, no person embodied Irish culture more than Patrick Pearse. The headmaster of an Irish school, Pearse was an inspirational romantic. He could move crowds to patriotism and inspire resistance to British policies. He was a hero among Irish-Americans, and they sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his cause. He told young Irish boys and girls about their heritage, he taught them Gaelic, and he inspired them to be militantly proud of being Irish. He was also a member of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. When the concept of home rule was defeated in the British parliament, republican eyes turned to Pearse.

THE 1916 EASTER REBELLION

By 1916, the situation in Ireland had changed. The British had promised home rule to Ireland when World War I (1914–1918) came to an end. While most people in Ireland believed the British, unionists and republicans secretly armed for a civil war between the North and South. They believed a fight was inevitable if the British granted home rule, and each side was determined to dominate the government of a newly independent Ireland. Some forces were not willing to wait for home rule.

With British attention focused on Germany, leaders of the IRB believed it was time for a strike against the unionists and their British supporters. At Easter in 1916, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly led a revolt in Dublin. Pearse was a romantic idealist who felt the revolt was doomed from the start but believed it necessary to sacrifice his life to keep the republican spirit alive. Connolly was a more pragmatic socialist who fought because he believed a coming civil war was inevitable.

The 1916 Easter Rebellion enjoyed local success because it surprised everyone. Pearse and Connolly took over several key points in Dublin with a few thousand armed followers. From the halls of the General Post Office, Pearse announced that the revolutionaries had formed an Irish Republic and asked the Irish to follow him. The British, outraged by what they deemed to be treachery in the midst of a larger war, also came to Dublin. The city was engulfed in a week of heavy fighting.

Whereas Pearse and Connolly came to start a popular revolution, the British came to fight a war. In a few days, Dublin was devastated by British artillery. Pearse recognized the futility of the situation and asked for terms. J. Bowyer Bell (1974) points out the interesting way Pearse chose to approach the British: He sent a message using a new title, Commanding General of the Irish Republican Army, to the general in charge of British forces. The IRB had transformed itself into an army: the IRA.

Transformations continued in the political arena, and, ironically, what Pearse and Connolly could not achieve in life, they could achieve in death. Irish opinion was solidly against the IRA, and most Irish people held Pearse and Connolly responsible for the destruction of Dublin. The British, however, failed to capitalize on this sentiment. Rather than listen to public opinion, they cracked down on all expressions of republicanism. Dozens of republicans, including Pearse and the wounded Connolly, were executed, and thousands were sentenced to prison. The British promise of home rule seemed forgotten. Most Irish people were appalled by the harsh British reaction, and the ghosts of Pearse and Connolly rose in the IRA. Irish political opinion shifted to favor revolution.



THE INFLUENCE OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION: DE VALERA, COLLINS, AND THE TAN WAR

Sinn Fein, the political party of republicanism, continued its activities in spite of the failure of the Easter Rebellion. When World War I ended, many of the republicans were released. Eamon De Valera, whose life had been spared because he was born in America, emerged as the leader of Sinn Fein. Michael Collins, who avoided extended imprisonment because he happened to walk over to one side of the room when other prisoners were singled out for punishment, came to the forefront of the IRA. Together De Valera and Collins began to fight for Irish independence in 1919.

Michael Collins studied the tactics of the Russian Peoples’ Will and the writings of earlier anarchists and terrorists. He used these items as an inspiration for strategy and launched a guerrilla war against the British. After obtaining a list of British and loyalist Irish police and intelligence officers, Collins sent IRA terrorists to their homes and killed them. He attacked police stations and symbols of British authority. A master of terrorist strategy, Collins continued a campaign of terror against unionists and the RIC.

The British responded by sending a hastily recruited military force, called the Black and Tans because of their mismatched uniforms, and Ireland became the scene of a dreadful war. Both sides accused the other of atrocities, but murder and mayhem were the tactics of each party. The conflict became popularly known as the Tan War or the Black and Tan War.

Meanwhile, home rule had not been forgotten by more moderate groups. Politicians in Britain and Ireland sought to bring an end to the violence by formulating the steps to grant Irish independence. The main stumbling block was the North. Protestant unionists were afraid of being abandoned by the British. In 1921, the situation was temporarily solved by a treaty between Britain and Ireland. Under the terms of the treaty, Ireland would be granted independence while the northern section around Ulster would remain under British protection until it could peacefully be integrated into Ireland. Southern Ireland became the free state—the Republic of Ireland. The majority of people in Ireland accepted the treaty. Michael Collins also accepted the treaty, but the IRA did not.

When the treaty between Ireland and Britain was ratified in 1921, a civil war broke out in the newly formed Republic. Michael Collins led the Irish Army, while his former colleague Eamon De Valera took the helm of the IRA. The IRA fought Irish government forces, claiming that Irish independence had to extend to all Irish people. They rejected British control of the North. De Valera campaigned against his former colleagues and eventually orchestrated the murder of Michael Collins.

For their part, the British wanted nothing to do with the civil war in the southern areas. They tightened their hold on Northern Ireland and bolstered its strength with a new police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The northern unionists were delighted when the British established a semiautonomous government in Northern Ireland and gave it special powers to combat the IRA. The unionists used this power to gain control of Northern Ireland and lock themselves into the British orbit. Ireland became a divided country.

TRENDS IN THE IRA: 1930–1985

In 1927, De Valera was elected as Prime Minister. Although he passed several anti-British measures, he was soon at odds with the IRA. Two important trends emerged. J. Bowyer Bell (1974) records the first by pointing to the split in IRA ranks. By the 1930s, some members of the IRA wanted to follow the lead of their political party, Sinn Fein. They felt the IRA should express itself through peaceful political idealism. They believed they should begin working for a united socialist Ireland in the spirit of James Connolly.

Another group of IRA members rejected this philosophy. They believed the purpose of the IRA was to fight for republicanism. They would never be at peace with the British or the unionists until the North was united with the South. They vowed to carry on the fight. They broke with the De Valera government and formed a provisional wing of the IRA in the 1930s. The Provisional IRA vowed to keep up the fight, and De Valera turned on them. The Provisional IRA was silenced for a number of years. They launched an ineffective terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland from 1956 to 1962, and they fell out of favor with Irish republicans. Just when it seemed the Provisional IRA was defunct, a Catholic civil rights campaign engulfed Northern Ireland in 1969. The failure of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland can be directly linked to modern Irish terrorism and the rebirth of the IRA.

Alfred McClung Lee (1983, pp. 59–97) records another trend in Ireland. Internally, the IRA split into a traditional official branch and a more militant provisional wing. He notes that externally the economic situation in Northern Ireland consolidated in favor of the Protestant unionists. From 1922 to 1966, the government in Northern Ireland systematically reduced the civil rights of Catholics living in the North. During the same period, the economic power of the unionists increased.

According to Lee, the political and economic conditions in Northern Ireland provided the rationale for a major civil rights movement among the Catholics. Although the movement had republican overtones, it was primarily aimed at achieving adequate housing and education among Ulster’s Catholic population in an attempt to improve economic growth. The civil rights movement was supported by both Protestants and Catholics, but the actions of the Northern Irish government began to polarize the issue. Increasingly the confrontation became recognized as a unionist-republican one, and the old battlelines between Protestants and Catholics were redrawn. By 1969, the civil rights movement and the reaction to it had become violent.

The IRA had not been dormant throughout the civil rights movement, but it had failed to play a major role. For the most part, the leaders of the civil rights movement were peaceful republicans. The IRA could not entice the civil rights leaders into a guerrilla war, and it had virtually destroyed itself in an earlier campaign against the government of Northern Ireland. In 1969, the Provisional IRA was popular in song and legend, but it held little sway in day-to-day Irish politics. Some type of miracle would be needed to rejuvenate the IRA.

The reason for IRA impotence can be found in the second generation of Provisionals. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of their forebears, the Provisionals began to wage a campaign against the RUC in Northern Ireland in the late 1950s. They established support bases in the Republic and slipped across the border for terrorist activities.

Although they initially enjoyed support among republican enclaves in the North, most Irish people, unionists and republicans alike, were appalled by IRA violence. Even the Officials criticized the military attacks of the Provisionals. Faced with a lack of public support, the Provisional IRA called off its offensive in the North. By 1962, almost all of its activities had ceased. Some Provisionals joined the civil rights movement; others rejoined former colleagues in the Official wing. Most members, however, remained in a secret infrastructure and prayed for a miracle to restore their ranks and prestige. In 1969, their prayers were answered.

Repression on the part of the Northern government was the answer to IRA prayers. The government in Northern Ireland reacted with a heavy hand against the civil rights workers and demonstrators. Max Hastings (1970, pp. 40–56) writes that peaceful attempts to work for equal rights were stymied by Northern Irish militancy. Catholics were not allowed to demonstrate for better housing and education; if they attempted to do so, they were attacked by the RUC and its reserve force, known as B-Specials. At the same time no attempts were made to stop Protestant demonstrations. The Catholics believed the RUC and B-Specials were in league with the other anti-Catholic unionists in the North.

Issues intensified in the summer of 1969. Civil rights demonstrators planned a long, peaceful march from Londonderry to Belfast, but they were gassed and beaten by the RUC and B-Specials. On August 15, 1969, the Protestants assembled for their traditional Apprentice Boys celebration. Just a few days before, the RUC had enthusiastically attacked Catholic demonstrators, but on August 15, 1969, it welcomed the Protestant Apprentice Boys with open arms. The Catholics were not surprised: Many B-Specials had taken off their reservist uniforms to don orange sashes and march with the Protestants.

Protestant marchers in Londonderry and Belfast armed themselves with gasoline bombs, rocks, and sticks. They not only wished to celebrate the seventeenth-century victory in Derry, but they were also thrilled by the recent dispersal of the civil rights marchers and hoped to reinforce their political status by bombarding Catholic neighborhoods as they marched by. When the Protestants began taunting Catholics, violence broke out. By nightfall, Belfast and Londonderry were in flames. Three days later, Britain sent the British Army in as a peacekeeping force. Ironically, the British Army became the miracle that the IRA so desperately needed.

According to most analysts and observers, the early policies and tactics of the British Army played an important role in the rebirth of the IRA. In an article on military policy, J. Bowyer Bell (1976, pp. 65–88) criticizes the British Army for its initial response. He says the British Army came to Ulster with little or no appreciation of the historical circumstances behind the conflict. According to Bell, when the Army arrived in 1969, its commanders believed they were in the midst of a colonial war. They evaluated the situation and concluded there were two “tribes.” One tribe flew the Irish tricolor and spoke with deep-seated hatred of the British. The other tribe flew the Union Jack and claimed to be ultrapatriotic subjects of the British Empire. It seemed logical to ally with friends who identified themselves as subjects.

Bell believes this policy was a fatal flaw. Far from being a conflict to preserve British influence in a colony, the struggle in Northern Ireland was a fight between two groups of Irish citizens. Neither side was “British,” no matter what their slogans and banners claimed. The British Army should have become the peaceful, neutral force, but it mistakenly allied itself with one of the extremist positions in the conflict. That mistake became the answer to IRA prayers.

Bell argues that the reaction of republican Catholics fully demonstrates the mistake the British Army made. The unionists greeted the British Army with open arms, but this was to be expected. Historically, the British Army had rallied to the unionist cause. Surprisingly, however, the republicans also welcomed the British Army. They believed that the RUC and B-Specials were the instruments of their repression and that the British Army would not continue those restrictive measures. It was not the British Army of the past. In republican eyes, it was a peacekeeping force. The republicans believed the British Army would protect them from the unionists and the police.

Such beliefs were short-lived. As the British Army made its presence felt in Ulster, republicans and Catholics were subjected to the increasing oppression of British Army measures. Catholic neighborhoods were surrounded and gassed by military forces searching for subversives, and the soldiers began working as a direct extension of the RUC. Londonderry and Belfast were military targets, and rebels fighting against the government were to be subdued. As confrontations became more deadly, republican support for the British Army vanished.

Feeling oppressed by all sides, Catholics and republicans looked for help. They found it, partly, in the form of the IRA. The Officials and Provisionals were still split during the 1969 riots, and the IRA was generally an impotent organization. According to Iain Hamilton (1971), the IRA pushed its internal squabbles aside, and the Officials and Provisionals focused on their new common enemy, the British Army. The new IRA policy emphasized the elimination of British soldiers from Irish soil and brushed aside internal political differences.

Robert Moss (1972, pp. 16–18) remarks that the British Army found itself in the middle of the conflict it had hoped to forestall. Alienated nationalists offered support for the growing ranks of the IRA. Each time the British Army overreacted, as it tended to do when faced with civil disobedience, the republican cause was strengthened.

Reporter Simon Winchester (1974, pp. 171–180) notes another outcome of the conflict: As IRA ranks grew, Orange extremist organizations also began to swell. While crackdowns by British Army patrols and incidents of alleged torture by intelligence services increased the ranks of the IRA, unionist paramilitary organizations grew in response. The British Army also began taking action against the unionist organizations and then truly found itself in the midst of a terrorist conflict.

In 1972, the British government issued a report on the violence in Northern Ireland. Headed by Leslie Scarman (1972), the investigation concluded that tensions inside the community were so great, once they had been unleashed, little could be done to stop them. The policies of the police and the British Army had done much to set those hostile forces in motion. The report concluded that normative democracy could not return until the people in Northern Ireland had faith in all government institutions, including the security forces. The report indicated that a legal method was needed to resolve the violence.

ORANGE TERROR

While most Irish terrorism is correctly associated with the IRA and its radical splinter groups, it is not proper to conclude that all Irish terrorism is the result of republican violence. Unionist organizations also have a long history of terrorism. They represent the Orange or Protestant side of terror.

Prior to the Easter Rebellion, there was little need for Orange militancy, since the Orange groups controlled the events in Ireland through the police and military. For example, the IRB began importing arms prior to World War I (1914–1918). Unionists, fearful of Catholic republican power, decided to arm themselves. Although the British government had forbidden importing arms, the police officers ignored this one night as thousands of illegal arms were smuggled into the Orange Lodges. The British Army also failed to act. Its officers had confined soldiers to their barracks while the arms were distributed.

The Orange position also enjoyed the backing of the military in other ways. Prior to World War I, it appeared home rule would be passed by the British parliament. In order to influence the vote, British officers began to resign their commissions en masse, forcing a crisis in government. The United Kingdom was on the verge of war with Germany; it could hardly fight without the leadership of its officer corps. Home rule was withdrawn, and Ireland remained under British control.

Things changed after the Tan War and the creation of the Republic of Ireland. Although De Valera waged war against his old colleagues, the IRA still brought terrorism to the North. At this point some unionist groups formed terrorist enclaves of their own. Their primary purpose was to terrorize the republicans.

Unionist terrorism has focused on retribution. When Green terrorists strike a target, Orange terrorists strike back. The Orange terrorists have also been involved in the assassination of Catholic leaders, especially outspoken leaders during the civil rights movement. Orange terrorism has never matched Green terrorism simply because unionists were able to use official organizations to repress Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Seamus Dunn and Valerie Morgan (1995) argue that this attitude may change. In 1985, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland signed a peace accord regarding the governance of Northern Ireland. Known as the Anglo-Irish Peace Accord, the agreement seeks to bring an end to terrorism by establishing a joint system of government for the troubled area. Dunn and Morgan believe many Protestant groups feel betrayed by this agreement. They surmise such groups may resort to violence if they feel they have no voice in the political system. This may create a change in the style of Orange terrorism.

Orange terrorism did not follow a specific theory of revolution; it emerged as a reaction to republican terrorism. Orange terrorism has increased as a result of the loss of Protestant power in the North. The current status of this conflict will be reviewed when examining problems in contemporary terrorism later in this book.

In continuing the discussion of the development of modern terrorism, we now turn to the Middle East. Middle Eastern terrorists, both Jews and Arabs, studied the anarchists of Russia and the tactics of Michael Collins. Terrorism emerged in yet another form in the Middle East, the focus of the next chapter.

Revolutionary Nationalism in Ireland
Nationalist groups did not view themselves as terrorists. They believed anarchists were fighting for ideas. Nationalists believed they were fighting for their countries. Anarchists were socially isolated, but nationalists could hope for the possibility of greater support. Governments labeled them as “terrorists,” but nationalists saw themselves as unconventional soldiers in a national cause. Nationalists believed they were fighting patriotic wars. They only adopted the tactics of the anarchists.

The nationalist Irish Republican Army (IRA) grew from this period. Unlike anarchists, the IRA believed Ireland was entitled to self-government. They did not reject the notion of governmental control; the IRA wanted to nationalize it. Their weakness caused them to use the terrorist tactics fostered by the anarchists. In the twentieth century, other nationalist groups in Europe followed the example of the IRA. (See Chapter 6 for the development of terrorism in the IRA.)

Even though two distinct positions had emerged, it is not possible to completely separate nineteenth century anarchism and nationalism. Grant Wardlaw (1982, pp. 18–24) sees a historical continuation from anarchism to nationalist terrorism. Richard Rubenstein (1987, pp. 122–125) makes this point by looking at contemporary anarchist and nationalist groups. Rubenstein says the stages terrorists must go through to employ violence are similar for both types of terrorism. The moral justification for anarchist and nationalist terrorism is essentially the same.(See Box 5.1 for a partial list of leading anarchists.)

J. Bowyer Bell (1976) gives an excellent example of the links between the anarchistic and nationalistic traditions by examining the IRA. Since 1916, the IRA has been inundated with socialist revolutionaries and nationalists who reject some aspects of socialism. Even though the two sides have frequently been at odds, both groups are heir to the same tradition. Modern nationalistic terrorism has its roots in anarchism. Both traditions formed the framework of modern European terrorism.



Terrorism in the modern sense came from violent anarchists in the late 1800s. The anarchists were based in Western Europe, but they carried their campaign to other parts of the world. The most successful actions took place in Russia prior to the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. Anarchist groups assassinated several Russian officials including the czar. Anarchism also spread to the United States. In America it took the form of labor violence, and American anarchists, usually immigrants from Europe, saw themselves linked to organized labor. The anarchist movement in America did not gain as much strength as the movement in Europe, and American anarchists were generally relegated to industrial areas. Right-wing extremism was not part of the anarchist movement, but by the mid-twentieth century, right-wing groups began to imitate tactics of violent anarchists. Much of this activity can be traced to unrest in Imperial Russia.


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