IRA : Is Force Justified? Essay, Research Paper
The Irish Republican Army is not justified in using force to achieve its aims because the Irish Republican Army (IRA) represents the minority of the population in Northern Ireland. The IRA also is not justified in using force because using force does not work and it turns their supporters against them. The IRA?s goals are political and political rights should be achieved through political methods, not by force. In cases where the majority of the population is not fairly represented in the government and peaceful protests and demonstrations have not been successful, then resorting to armed resistance is justified. For example, in the case of the American Revolution, the colonists? armed resistance was justified because they represented the majority, and they had already tried to gain independence peacefully through protests and demonstrations and they probably would have never have gained their independence otherwise. Another example when armed resistance is justified is in South Africa, where the Black majority has been trying for years to gain equal rights. In the case of the IRA, even though it has tried to gain independence from Great Britain through demonstrations and protests, it does not represent the majority of people in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the IRA is not justified in using force to achieve it?s aims. In order to understand the IRA, one has to understand the history of Ireland. In 1641 a ten-year rebellion began in Ireland to gain it?s independence from England. England had been occupying Ireland for centuries. The rebellion cost 60,000 Irish lives. For the next 150 years, Protestants dominated Ireland. In 1801 the Act of Union joined Ireland with Great Britain, forming the United Kingdom. In 1829 the English Parliament passed an act giving the Catholics in Ireland political equality for most purposes. Later, Ireland set forth to eliminate the Act of Union. The Catholics in Southern Ireland wanted Home Rule, but the Protestants in Northern Ireland wanted to keep the Act of Union with Great Britain. On Easter Monday, 1916, Irish volunteers armed themselves and united with the Citizen army and staged an unsuccessful rebellion in Dublin, a town in Northern Ireland. The leaders of the rebellion were executed by the English, which made the Irish nationalists mad at England. In 1918 elections took place electing members of Sein Fein, the Irish revolutionary party, into the seats of the English Parliament. Instead of taking their seats, they set up a new Parliament in Ireland, and proclaimed Ireland?s independence from Great Britain. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was developed when the Irish volunteers tried to defend themselves from the British, who tried to put down the new Parliament. In 1921 a truce was signed between Great Britain and the IRA called the Anglo-Irish treaty. It gave Home Rule to Southern Ireland, which was later called the Irish Free State. Northern Protestant Ireland was left a colony of Great Britain because that is what the majority of the people in Northern Ireland wanted. The Irish Catholics of Southern Ireland voted their approval of the treaty. Some Catholics remained in Northern Ireland when the border was made to separate the North and the South. The Catholics in Northern Ireland continued to want unity with Southern Ireland and independence from Great Britain, so the IRA remained intact fighting for independence. The Catholics do have many reasons to want political unity and equal rights in Northern Ireland. In the past in Northern Ireland, the Catholics were convicted of crimes without being tried, and their religion determined their housing and their jobs, which for the Catholics, usually meant they lived in the ghettos and had the ?left-over? jobs. ?(Catholic) housing was poor. They suffered from the usual forms of anti-Catholic discrimination. Their economic prospects were bleak.? As recently as 1985 unemployment in Northern Ireland was 21.8 percent compared to 17.2 percent in the South. The IRA does have reasons to be mad at the Protestants of Northern Ireland, but terrorism will not solve their problems. Terrorism will only bring them farther from their aims, and terrorism is never justified as a means to solve problems. Great Britain has been trying for several years to appease the people of Ireland and to gain peace. Great Britain granted the Home Rule to Southern Ireland, because that is what the majority of the people in Southern Ireland wanted. Great Britain kept the Act of Union with Northern Ireland because that is what the majority of the people in Northern Ireland wanted. One attempt to solve the ongoing turmoil in Northern Ireland was the Anglo-Irish treaty, created in 1985 by the Thatcher government. The aim of this treaty was to strengthen the Catholics minority?s confidence in Britain?s administration of justice. This treaty helped to win the support of the less radical side of the IRA, but the treaty was later put aside and not kept up, because the Protestants ignored it. If Great Britain allows Northern Ireland to unite with Southern Ireland, and all of Ireland to be independent of Great Britain, then the majority of the population in Northern Ireland, the Protestants, will not be appeased. Although Great Britain has been trying for several years to bring peace to Ireland, there is virtually nothing they can do to solve the problem. In 1984 the IRA was responsible for 414 terrorist acts, murders, attempted murders and explosions, which totaled 64 deaths of British soldiers, British police, civilians, etc… The IRA continues to destroy cars, buildings, lives of innocent victims, and at the same time they lose support for their cause from their Irish-American funders and their supporters in Ireland. In 1979, the IRA claimed responsibility for planting a 50 pound bomb in a fishing boat owned by Lord Mountbatten. Lord Mountbatten was a WWII veteran who came to Ireland from Great Britain to relax. Like usual, Lord Mountbatten went fishing with his grandson, and along with them, came a local boy, and Mountbatten?s mother. A few minutes after the fishing boat had lifted anchor, the boat was blown out of the water, and Lord Mountbatten and the local boy were killed instantly. Mountbatten?s mother died two days later in a hospital. The IRA lost sympathy and support because they killed an innocent boy, and an innocent women, and this admired veteran of the war. This act against Lord Mountbatten is only one example of the terrorism and crime the IRA has been inflicting upon it?s own country. With every terrorist act, the IRA loses more and more support. But as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said in 1984 ? there must never be any giving in to the terrorists, for to do so would allow them to rule through fear.? Also, the IRA is not making any headway with the British by using violence. Irish Prime Minister Garret Fitzgerald has stated that ?no gang of terrorists should be allowed to dictate with well-placed bombs the policies of two nations,? and that ?it would only serve to reinforce the growing determination of the people of Great Britain and Ireland that we are in this together and that the will of the people – not that of the evil bombers – will prevail and endure.? Thatcher and Fitzgerald made it very clear to the IRA that policies will not be reached, and agreements will not be struck, if the IRA continues to bomb and terrorize. ?They also stated that to give into the IRA and their ?well-placed bombs? would be supporting terrorism, and that is the last thing they want to do. The IRA will make agreements with Great Britain if they take the legal, political road to achieve their aims, not the road of violence. Terrorism also lacks support of the people in both North and South Ireland. ??At bottom Ireland?s troubles are political. Yet both sides are seeking a military solution. Until the political necessities are dealt with, there will never be peace, only more murder.? Also, the Irish prime minister said that ?no solution can be imposed by force,? stating that the IRA is not helping the situation, just getting farther from their aims. Although the IRA continues to struggle for political equality and social reforms, it is only taking steps backwards in achieving their aims by using terrorism. It is continually losing support because of the death of innocent victims and the destruction of lands and buildings. This loss of support could all be avoided if passive steps were taken. The Catholics are outnumbered in Northern Ireland by 3-1 (three Protestants to every one Catholic) , so the IRA, consisting mostly of Catholics, is fighting against the majority. A simpler solution for the Catholics to achieve political equality, would be to bring up a bill in Parliament, and then make Great Britain see to it that it is enforced, unlike the Anglo-Irish treaty. The terrorists in Ireland are fighting for a solution to a problem, that will only be found through political means. ?The terrorists in Ireland would sacrifice lives for power – power for themselves or their cause. Theirs is a despotic drive no different from that of any other despot who determines to have his way regardless of how the majority think or what they want.? This quote shows how the IRA fights against the majority of the people, and don?t care what the majority think – it?s only what the IRA wants that?s important to them.?