History of Terrorism in Ireland and the United Kingdom
To understand the history of terrorism in Ireland and the UK, it is necessary to provide a history of when it started and how it evolved.This phase of Irish/UK history is known as "the Troubles" and started in 1969 when the civil rights marches became more republican in Northern Ireland with many riots occurring as a consequence of the bigotry against Catholics in Northern Ireland. In August 1969 a major riot occurred in Derry which became known as the "Battle of the Bogside". There were similar riots in Belfast and up to 3500 people (mainly Catholic)were driven from their homes there.Seven people were killed as well as about 100 being wounded. As a result of the violence towards the Catholic community the IRA became more active and branched off to include the Provisional IRA in 1970 which began a campaign of ruthless bombing in Northern Ireland and the UK. The purpose of this bombing campaign was an attempt to make the British withdraw from Northern Ireland and to achieve a united Ireland.
A period of internment then ensued in which many innocent people were interned while the active members of the provisional IRA continued their campaign of violence.
A group called the UDA was formed with the purpose of protecting the rights of the Protestant people and so "the Troubles " continued for many years of bloodshed and terrorism both in Northern Ireland and the UK.
A personal perspective
Although we live in Southern Ireland where there was no terrorism, we were only 15 miles from the border from where all this was going on. There were supermarkets in the border towns that were bombed so often that they were constructed of corrugated iron and many times while shopping on the other side of the border one could hear an explosion in the distance while the staff listened to try to ascertain if the bomb was near their homes.
When traveling through "the North" it was customary to be stopped at checkpoints by British soldiers along the way and this was the custom and practice for many years during the Troubles.
If going shopping in the North, an arrangement was made on the way as to where to meet up if there was a bomb scare in the shopping center. Looking back, it is hard to understand why we went near the place at all.
It was also the case that there was a litany of murder and bloodshed from both sides on the news and media and many atrocities were carried out with bombings and shootings being the order of the day. Most of these occurred in Northern Ireland but there were also many violent incidents in the UK as a result of this civil war right up until the ceasefire in 1994.
Some of the worst atrocities
There was so much bloodshed and loss of life in Northern Ireland and Britain it is hard to select the worst of them but here is some attempt to do so.
On 30 January 1972, 27 unarmed civilians were shot and 14 of them were killed by the British Army in Derry. This event became known as "Bloody Sunday."
On 22 February of the same year, seven members of staff lost their lives in the bombing of Aldershot barracks in England by the IRA.
On 4 February 1994, 9 British army personnel and three civilians died in a bombing of a bus by the provisional IRA.
There were many killed in bombs in pubs in Guildford and Birmingham in England in October and November 1974.
There were bombs placed by the Ulster Volunteer Force( a group which evolved against the activities of the IRA) in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974. This was in the Republic of Ireland which had no part in the conflict whatsoever.
These are acts of violence which occurred early in the Troubles and similar acts were repeated on a daily basis right throughout the period while the Troubles lasted for nearly thirty years.
So many innocent people lost their lives or were badly injured in Northern Ireland and in the UK during this terrible time in Irish history all because of the conflict between opposing groups-one that wanted a United Ireland and another group that wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Peace in our Land
Since the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998 there has been no more bloodshed or loss of life for political reasons in northern Ireland or the UK. There is not a United Ireland either. We only have to travel 15 miles and the currency is GBP instead of Euro but that is thankfully probably the only difference that is evident any more. There is freedom of movement from one side of the border to the other and many cross-border initiatives to bridge the gap between North and South on this island of Ireland.
In conclusion, it is worth remembering those who lost their lives in "the Troubles" through no fault of their own but by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The terrorism of nearly thirty years is now over these past seventeen years and although we all appreciate the difference between then and now it is important not to forget where we came from here on this Emerald Isle, otherwise known as Ireland.