Ira Essay Research Paper Friday July 21

Ira Essay, Research Paper

Friday, July 21, 1972 started as any other day of the week. As

the sun rose, people everywhere began to go about their normal

daily business, as did the people of Belfast, N. Ireland.

Suddenly, there is a great noise and a violent shaking, as the

city of Belfast is rocked by the explosion of bombs. 22

separate bombs detonate within the city of Belfast, destroying

buildings and ejecting the life from anyone caught in the blast.

As the violent noise dies away, the people of Belfast, too

startled to know what has happened, survey the scene. As they

look over the demolished structures, and rummage through the

ashes, they know the bombs were meant for certain members of the

British government. The explosions, however, did not kill only

government members, as nine civilians lie dead in the rubble.

As the emergency vehicles arrive at the scene, the police know

who has caused this destruction, and that the bombers are none

other than the members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

The Irish Republican Army or IRA, is a paramilitary group

who s stated goal is to free Ireland from the bounds of British

rule, and unite the island under one government. The IRA is an

old organization that had it s beginnings in the past after

Britain first took control of Ireland. At the heart of the

conflict between IRA and Britain lies religious differences,

mostly between Protestants and Catholics. To better understand

the IRA we ll go back into the past, and see how it all started.

Ireland first began to fall under British control in the

dark ages when Lords and Nobles from Britain began conquering

the tribes and counties of Ireland. At one point the king of

England himself set out to conquer Ireland, saying the Pope had

commanded him to do so. During the dark ages different sections

of Ireland were ruled by different nobles of Britain, but

official British rule did not begin until 1541, when King Henry

VIII was named King of Ireland. From then until the 19th

Century small Irish groups would periodically rebel against the


The Irish Republican Army first was formed in the 1860 s,

with the goal of freeing Ireland from Britain. In 1867 they

staged several insurrections, but none were successful, and the

movement died out in 1885.

In the early 1900 s the name IRA was adopted again by a

group of Irish volunteers with the same goals. The source of

the conflict had shifted from government, and was now centered

around religion. England was primarily Protestant, while

Ireland was mostly catholic. Being ruled by England, the

Catholic Irish had little say in the way they wanted things

done. There was also a small number of Protestant Irish, mostly

in the northern section of Ireland, who enjoyed English rule,

because they felt that their needs were met better than they

would be if they were ruled by Catholics. The mostly Catholic

IRA tried to free Ireland from Britain, while the Protestant

Irish tried to keep things as they were. In 1940 Ireland was on

the brink of Civil War.

In 1916 the IRA group attempted to free Ireland by

launching an assault on Dublin. The attack failed, and the

attackers were executed, but it stirred up a great sympathy for

the cause. In 1918 a new group for Irish freedom formed that

called themselves the Sinn Fein. The Sinn Fein wanted Irish

freedom, but went about it through political means instead of

violence. The Sinn Fein succeeded in winning many seats in the

government s House of Commons, and used their influence to try

to break Ireland free. In 1920 Britain passed the government of

Ireland Act that freed all of Ireland except the nine

northernmost counties. The nine northern counties became the

English province of North Ireland. Southern Ireland was for the

most part free, but still had to answer to certain rules of

Britain. This act was eventually accepted, but some factions of

the IRA continued to fight, saying that they wouldn t settle for

anything less than total Irish freedom. After this act things

began to decline steadily, and by the 1960 s, the IRA had very

little support.

Things seemed to have settled down, but this did not last

for long. In the late 1960 s a group of catholic protesters

held a march for increased representation in the government of

North Ireland. Protestant members of N. Ireland reacted with

violence to the protesters, and the Catholics also responded

with violence. The IRA surged to life again as more people felt

sympathy toward the Catholics. During this time the IRA split

into two different parties, the Official IRA , and the

Provisional IRA . The Official IRA favored diplomatic means to

achieve their goals, while the Provisional IRA favored violence.

During the late 60 s and early 70 s violence escalated between

Catholics and Protestants in N. Ireland. The Provisional IRA

sprang into action, enraged by the deaths of catholic civilians.

By the early 70 s the Provisional IRA was waging an all out war

against British forces.

The Provisional IRA used bomb technology and secrecy to

their advantage. The IRA utilized car bombs most effectively in

inflicting damage and destruction on N. Ireland. The IRA s

strategy was to inflict enough collateral damage on N. Ireland

that it would no longer be worth Britain s energy to continue to

rule there. Desperate British forces began holding members of

the IRA without trial. This enraged catholic citizens, and

members of the IRA, as did the rumors of torture suffered by IRA

members at the hands of British officials. This conflict, now

centuries old, seemed no where near ending as tensions mounted

higher and higher. Many of the people on both sides had a deep

hatred for their enemies, resulting from losing loved ones due

to violence. Many of the people fighting had been taught from

childhood to hate those of the opposite government or religion,

and to fight for their freedom at all costs.

The violence seemed to peak in 1972, when, on Jan. 30,

Bloody Sunday , British forces shot and killed 13 unarmed

catholic civilians in N. Ireland. The soldiers said they

thought they were armed members of the IRA, but the outrage was

great. On July 31, Bloody Friday , the IRA struck out against

British forces with a massive bombing campaign in Belfast. 22

bombs were detonated, and nine civilians killed.

Through the rest of the 70 s and into the early 80 s the

IRA continued it s war. In the early 80 s several members of

the IRA began hunger strike to protest Britain s rule; 10

Irishmen starved themselves to death. Fighting continued until

the late 80 s, when a man by the name of Gerry Adams began to

show up as a leader amongst the ranks of the IRA. Gerry Adams

helped to develop a more political wing for the IRA, instead of

mostly an armed force. He realized that the IRA didn t have the

force to make Britain leave Ireland, and that some kind of peace

would have to be arranged. He began urging tolerance and

promoting negotiations. In 1994 a tentative cease fire was

called, and the framework for negotiations was set up. The

peace talks continued until 1996 when the British began

demanding the IRA to disarm. The IRA refused, and called off

the cease fire. Gerry Adams continued to push for peace, and in

1997, another cease fire was called. In 1998, finally some real

progress was made when both sides began making plans toward a

joint government system in which both sides would be

represented. With both sides seeming to come to an agreement

for the first time in almost a century, a fragile hope began to

grow. In the past few years the two parties have been taking

baby steps toward a peace agreement. Just recently a precedent

has been set by the signing of a peace treaty that both parties

have designed. The present peace is always in danger of falling

apart, but everyone is hoping that happy days might be ahead.

The history of the IRA and it s goals is complicated and

stretches back into centuries before America was even formed.

The conflicts between the two peoples have existed too long,

that many members of both sides cannot imagine it being any

other way. At the heart of this war, like at the heart of all

wars, is hate and mistrust. No one knows if North and South

Ireland will ever be able to live fully at peace with each

other. It is uncertain that a hate that runs so deep can ever

fully be gotten rid of, at least in our lifetime. Hopefully,

though, both sides will realize that their goals are really not

so different. Even the Protestants and Catholics, though they

have different ideas, serve the same God. The future is

uncertain, but as long as the two groups are talking, there is



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