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March 13, 2005




The sad truth is that I doubt that anything will be done to destroy the IRA - which it should be. Most English people are content to consign Northern Ireland to stew in its own juices. That's why they didn't care when the Major and Blair Governments renounced the Crown's claim.

the Cardinal's wife

I'm sure if they could get away with it, without looking like a defeated pack of cowards, the Brits would be out of Ulster tomorrow. In fact, I suspect they're getting close to throwing up their hands and leaving the whole mess to the republic whether it looks good or not.


If they could, they would.

But our post-colonial hand-wringing prevents it. We feel a need to keep NI going because the Irish couldn't handle it even if were to give it up.

Leaving aside the potential for loyalist terrorism to explode, I believe we send something like £8bn (say, $14bn?) each year to keep NI secure and try to boost its lagging economy. For the UK, that's about 0.7% GDP; for a small country like Ireland, it's about 13% GDP. That's a huge increase in taxation they'd have to bear (and that leaves aside the fact that the UK has higher public spending anyway, which would have to be unwound if they were going to be taxed the same).

There's a big part of me (the part that feels betrayed by my own country) that says that since the AIA and the GFA, we should just plonk it on their doorstep and tell them to deal with it. But the British ruling class is spineless, and could never countenance such a solution.

Mrs. Peperium

Blimpish, I have to think about your comments -translation: ask Mr. P. I honestly do not know much about the Ireland situation except that people get very hot over their beers about it. It just has never seemed right. George Mitchell and Tip O'Neil were very poor choices for ambassadors to Ireland. I have never understood why the IRA was tolerated. The bombings of the IRA thoroughout the '70's and the murder of Mountbatten was dreadful. Then to see Clinton play nice with Jerry Adams - disgusting. I'm glad Bush has finally woken up and not invited Adams for Corned Beef and Cabbage this week. I'm just hoping this is more than a symbolic gesture - that there are real sharp teeth digging into Adam's backside. I love how the IRA offered to "shoot" Robert McCarthy's killers. By the way, the McCarthy sisters and his fiance are examples of 'strong women' Mrs. Clinton.

Mark C N Sullivan

Hear, hear.

Andrew Cusack

The Northern Irish question could very easily be settled within the space of a dark moonless night or two. I'd be willing to bet if you killed 150-200 people (so long as they're the right 150-200 people) it would virtually eliminate the capacity of these organizations.

A strategic strike by the SAS would eliminate the chief troublemakers, but no one has the political resolve to have the fingers pointed at them when churches throughout Ulster are brimming with the funerals of dead terrorists/criminals.


The history of Anglo-Irish relations is tragic - like most things, more cock-up than conspiracy. Certainly in the last 50 years, no Englishman has ever wanted to traduce the Irish. Quite the opposite: most English people have nothing but love for the Irish (there are though, some Irish, as some Scots, who just plain don't like the English - always the way when you're the dominant player).

Partition was just the very best example of cock-up rather than conspiracy - although it isn't clear what better solution there was at the time. Whichever other solution (keeping Ireland in the union, or forcing the North to be ruled from Dublin=Rome) would've required mass slaughter (or Irish nationalists or Ulster loyalists) to make it work. After WWI, neither was particularly appealing.

I'm glad to read your comments Mrs. P, and also Mark's "hear, hear" about it. Few things reflected so poorly on the US in England than the glad-handing of Ted Kennedy and Peter King for murderers' bagmen throughout the 1980s. All the time I grew up, you took a bomb threat very seriously.

For that reason, I found Rep King's recent words saying that it's time for the IRA to disband somewhat bittersweet. Why wasn't it time 2 years ago? 10 years ago? 20 years ago? What they did was never justified. This is as democratic a country as you're going to get. There might well have been some discrimination against Catholics in the North during the 1960s - but nowhere near as much as against black people in the South. Would Rep King endorse Black Panther violence? No. Would he even endorse Palestinian violence - which at least is in a militarised, interstate situation? No - and rightly so on both counts. So why did he think violence was OK in the backyard of the US's closest ally?

Think I might make a post out of this comment!

Mrs. Peperium

Irish politicians know their bread is buttered with Irish butter. Interestingly King has a death threat lodged against him by some other terrorist group - Muslim, I think. The blindness we have had against the IRA gave encouragement to other terrorist groups like UbL.

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