Ireland > 20th century > The Troubles
Belfast, Northern Ireland
A schoolgirl walks
paramilitary mural on the Newtownards Road
as the political parties resume
round table talks today
Photo highlights of the day:
dragon boats and fashion
Monday 21 September 2015 13.42 BST
The United Kingdom
of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain
was a sovereign state that existed
between 1801 and 1922.
It was established by the Acts of
the kingdoms of Great Britain and
into a unified state.
The establishment of the Irish Free
led to the country later being
the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland
which continues to exist in the
United_Kingdom_of_Great_Britain_and_Ireland - 3 January 2021
Republic of Ireland / Eire
Northern Ireland / Ulster
The Troubles > A Chronology of the
Northern Ireland's Troubles / The Troubles
UK / USA 1968-1995
1999 > Who's who in Northern Ireland
Deaths in the Northern Ireland
conflict since 1969
Timeline: Northern Ireland
The road to partition 1917-1920
The Irish Home Rule movement
was a movement that campaigned
for self-government (or "home rule") for
within the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland.
It was the dominant political movement
of Irish nationalism
from 1870 to the end of World War I.
- 3 January 2021
Gladstone and the battle for Home Rule 1850-1909
Irish Home Rule crisis 1886
A time of
revolution and the Great Famine 1695-1850
A peace wall in West Belfast
divides Protestant and Catholic enclaves.
Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
Will Brexit Bring the Troubles Back to Northern Ireland?
As the United Kingdom confronts the prospect of dissolution,
old factions are bracing for the possibility of new violence
Published Dec. 30, 2019 Updated Jan. 6, 2020
Northern Ireland Conflict
of terms related to the conflict
Sean Murray (IRA),
Michael Stone (loyalist),
Colin Duffy (republican
Pat Magee (republican)
unionist and nationalist divide in
on both sides of the divide
Northern Ireland > peace wall
Symbols Used in Northern Ireland
> Unionist and Loyalist Symbols
Conflict Archive on the Net (Cain) > 1968 to the present
List of Acronyms Associated with "the Troubles"
King William III, Prince of Orange
(r 1689-1702) and Mary II (r. 1689-94)
The Battle of the Boyne 1690
The Treaty of Limerick 1691
nationalists > Sir Roger Casement
Protestant and Catholic communities
have one or more kneecap
conspiracy to cause explosions
Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch
anti-terrorist branch officer
mid 1990's - 2007
Northern Ireland peace process
29 July 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair.
decommissioning > IRA
begins decommissioning 2001
Guardian web frontpage
30 October 2003
Deal to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration 26 March 2007
Northern Irish self rule
(Prime minister of the Republic of Ireland)
Northern Ireland assembly
The United Kingdom
Britain and Ireland
was a sovereign state
between 1801 and
It was established
by the Acts of Union 1800,
which merged the kingdoms
of Great Britain and Ireland
into a unified state.
of the Irish Free State in 1922
led to the country
later being renamed to
the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern
which continues to exist
in the present day
(27 December 2020)
The Acts of Union 1800
(sometimes referred to
as a single Act of Union 1801)
were parallel acts
of the Parliament of Great Britain
and the Parliament of Ireland
which united the Kingdom of Great
and the Kingdom of Ireland
(previously in personal union)
the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland.
The acts came into force
and the merged Parliament
had its first meeting
- 27 December 2020
Fraught Anglo-Irish conflict
goes back centuries
Tue May 17, 2011
(Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrived in Dublin on
Tuesday on a four-day state visit to the Irish Republic, the first visit by a
British monarch since Ireland won independence from London in 1921.
Here are details of the historical roots of Anglo-Irish relations:
* English King Henry II landed in Ireland in 1172 after winning support from the
pope to become its overlord. The next five centuries were marked by repeated
battles for control.
* In the 14th century, the Crown tried to prevent English settlers integrating
with the locals by outlawing the Irish language and making intermarriage
* Battles for Ireland have had a religious dimension since the 1530s, when
England's King Henry VIII broke with Roman Catholicism to found the Protestant
Church of England. Catholic estates in Ireland were dissolved and the land given
to the king's supporters. A 1534 revolt was crushed.
* In the reign of Henry's daughter Elizabeth I, more British aristocrats took
over estates in Ireland in a colonization, or "plantation," policy justified as
a moral crusade to turn Gaelic Irish away from Catholicism. A rebellion led by
Hugh O'Neill was thwarted in 1603.
* Settlers from Scotland came to Northern Ireland in large numbers under King
James I. They were allowed to buy up grants of land very cheaply in the early
* In 1649 Oliver Cromwell, a strict Protestant who had taken power in England
after a civil war, landed in Ireland with 3,000 men and overran the country,
killing one quarter of Ireland's Catholics. A reviled Penal Code barred
Catholics from teaching, owning land, voting or serving in the military.
* In 1690 Catholics were defeated by England's Protestant King William III --
William of Orange -- at the epic Battle of Boyne. Ulster Protestants still call
themselves Orangemen and commemorate the battle.
* The Irish parliament was abolished by Britain in 1801, heralding a century
during which demands grew steadily for Irish home rule.
* The horrific potato famine of 1845 cut the Irish population by at least 2
million through emigration and starvation, and fueled hatred of absentee
landlords who levied high taxes on their malnourished workers.
THE 20th CENTURY:
* In 1905 Sinn Fein ("We Ourselves") became a political party committed to Irish
independence. Ireland's main political parties today, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael,
both would later emerge from Sinn Fein.
* In April 1916, a band of nationalists in Dublin led the abortive Easter Rising
against British rule. They were forced to surrender by British artillery
shelling and leaders were court-martialed and executed, releasing a wave of
anger toward the British authorities.
* Eamon de Valera, the senior survivor of the rising, led Sinn Fein to win a
majority of Ireland's seats in the British parliament in the election of 1918.
Instead of joining the British parliament, they formed their own assembly, which
declared independence. An Anglo-Irish war followed.
* The British government partitioned the island in 1921, separating Northern
Ireland with its "loyalist" Protestant majority from predominantly Catholic
* The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty between a delegation of Irish pro-independence
leaders and Britain established the Irish Free State, a self-governing dominion
within the British Empire, in 1922. Northern Ireland remained part of the United
* De Valera refused to accept the treaty. Ireland was plunged into civil war
between supporters and opponents, who believed the treaty did not do enough to
* Ireland broke its remaining ties with Britain at the end of 1937 with a new
constitution, which replaced the Free State with the modern state of Ireland.
The 1948 Republic of Ireland Act declared Ireland a republic, ending its status
as a dominion of the British crown.
* Many members of the Catholic minority in British-ruled Northern Ireland have
continued to seek the unification of the island, while Protestants favored
continued British rule. Between the late 1960s and 1990s, a period known as "The
Troubles," about 3,600 people died in violence there, which largely ended with a
peace agreement in 1998.
Penguin Dictionary of 20th
(Writing by David Cutler;
Editing by Peter Graff;
Editorial Reference Unit)
Anglo-Irish conflict goes back centuries,
Worst bomb attacks
on mainland Britain
Mon May 16,
British police said Monday they had been warned of a bomb in central London, a
day before Queen Elizabeth makes a historic visit to Ireland.
Here is a timeline of some of the worst bomb attacks on mainland Britain by
Irish dissident groups in the last 35 years.
February 1974 - Coach carrying soldiers and families in northern England is
bombed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Twelve people killed, 14 hurt.
October-November 1974 - Wave of IRA bombs in British pubs kills 28 people and
wounds more than 200.
July 1982 - Two IRA bomb attacks on soldiers in London's royal parks kill 11
people and wound 50.
December 1983 - IRA bomb at London's Harrods department store kills six.
October 1984 - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's cabinet narrowly escapes IRA
bomb that kills five people at Brighton hotel during Conservative Party's annual
September 1989 - Bomb at Royal Marines Music School in Deal, southeast England,
kills 11 and wounds 22.
February 1990 - Explosion at Army recruitment center in Leicester, central
England. Two wounded.
May 1990 - Seven wounded by blast at Army Educational Service headquarters in
London suburb of Eltham.
May 1990 - One soldier is killed and another wounded by car bomb in Wembley,
June 1990 - Soldier is shot dead at train station in Lichfield, central England.
February 1991 - IRA comes close to killing Prime Minister John Major and key
cabinet members in a mortar attack on Downing Street. One of three mortar bombs
slammed into garden behind building, exploding within 50 feet of the target.
April 1992 - Huge car bomb outside Baltic Exchange in London's financial
district kills three people and wounds 91.
March 1993 - Bombs in two litter bins in Warrington kill two boys aged three and
April 1993 - IRA truck bomb devastates Bishopsgate area of London's financial
district, killing one and wounding 44.
February 1996 - Two people die when IRA guerrillas detonate large bomb in
London's Docklands area.
March 2001 - Car bomb explodes outside BBC's London headquarters. Police say the
Real IRA, a republican splinter group opposed to the IRA's ceasefire, was behind
the blast. One man was wounded.
May 2011 - A warning comes from Irish dissident republicans opposed to the peace
process in Northern Ireland.
London Editorial Reference Unit)
Timeline: Worst bomb attacks on mainland Britain, R,
The hands of history:
Two worlds come together
to broker a new era of hope
David McKittrick witnesses the first meeting
between the two commanding
political figures in Belfast
as they calmly sit side by side to discuss the
of Northern Ireland
Published: 27 March 2007
Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams did not shake hands yesterday: they had no need
to, since their manner of signalling they are ready to go into government
together produced an even more telling and forceful image.
The substance of what they said was breathtaking enough, but the way they did it
was even more phenomenal: they sat calmly side by side, exuding a sense of
purpose and the intention of doing serious business together.
The picture of Belfast's two commanding political figures, flanked by their
senior lieutenants, carried a subliminal but unambiguous message: after 3,700
deaths the Troubles are over and real politics can begin.
The two warriors of the Troubles believe they can work together. The statements
they delivered in the ornate surroundings of a Stormont dining-room were
exquisitely crafted to avoid giving anyone offence.
The big news they contained was that Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party
will be going into government together, launching a new era and underpinning the
peace process with a political foundation.
But even more striking was the absence of accompanying threats or conditions -
no begrudgery, no condemnations, no blame game. The two listened carefully and
politely to each other, conveying something new in Belfast politics - mutual
For many months, London, Dublin, Washington, republicans and just about everyone
else have pressed Mr Paisley to go for power-sharing with Sinn Fein. He has
finally done so, and done so handsomely, with no hint of reservation or even
tension. Until now, he has not even spoken to Mr Adams or any Sinn Fein
representative, leading some to assume that no breakthrough could be expected at
their first encounter.
But a breakthrough came and, by letting the cameras in to witness it, the
parties provided an image that will take its place among key moments in other
peace processes across the world.
Many in Belfast reacted with shock and awe: shock that the leaders of loyalism
and republicanism should have finally struck a deal, awe that it had been done
without histrionics but in such a business-like manner. Mr Paisley announced the
timetable for devolution with a phrase no one has ever heard him use before:
"Today we have agreed with Sinn Fein that this date will be Tuesday 8th May
2007." He added: "We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and
tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable
The two statements were studiously symmetrical. Mr Adams provided an echo by
accepting that "the relationships between the people of this island have been
marred by centuries of discord, conflict, hurt and tragedy." He continued: "The
discussions and agreement between our two parties shows the potential of what
can now be achieved."
The sense of mutual satisfaction was also evident in London and Dublin, with the
two governments cock-a-hoop at what they describe as the successful slotting in
of the last piece of a jigsaw that has taken a painstaking decade to put
Tony Blair said proudly: "Everything we have done over the past 10 years has
been a preparation for this moment." The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern,
lauded the deal as having "the potential to transform the future of this
There was also a welcome from the United States, since the Bush and especially
the Clinton administration have been closely involved in the peace process.
Washington said it looked forward to the dawning of "a new era for Northern
Although long anticipated, the actual accomplishment of an agreement for
government caused near-incredulity on the streets of Belfast.
The Government long ago set yesterday as a deadline, with the Northern Ireland
Secretary, Peter Hain, proclaiming - more than 50 times, by the DUP's count -
that it was "devolution or dissolution." A meeting of the Assembly set for noon
yesterday was abandoned, and the transfer of powers from London postponed until
8 May. But the loss of six weeks of devolution is regarded as a negligible price
to pay for such an advance.
Although a devolved administration was expected at some stage, until yesterday
many wondered how well it could function if Mr Paisley maintained his no-talk
stance. As First Minister he would, in particular, be expected to work alongside
Martin McGuinness, who last night accepted the post of Deputy First Minister
after being nominated by Sinn Fein. Mr Paisley has, however, now specifically
said he will have regular meetings with Mr McGuinness.
It will be fascinating to see what relationship may develop between the
Protestant patriarch and the one-time IRA commander. But if yesterday's
introductory Paisley-Adams performance is anything to go by, the expected
friction may be less than anticipated, given that the two men have spent a full
generation eyeing each other from opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Their lives have in a sense been intertwined. One of the formative political
experiences of Gerry Adams's life was a bout of serious rioting that broke out
in the Falls Road area of Belfast in 1964, when he was 16.
In his biography, Mr Adams blamed the disturbances on "a rabble-rousing,
sectarian anti-Catholic demagogue named Ian Paisley" who had threatened to
remove an Irish tricolour from the district. In the years since then, Mr Paisley
has reciprocated by describing Mr Adams with a battery of uncomplimentary names.
Those early riots pre-dated the Troubles proper, in which the loyalist and the
republican were to play prominent roles.
For decades, Mr Paisley flew a strictly fundamentalist flag, insisting that
attempts to form power-sharing governments involving Unionists and nationalists
were to be opposed at all costs. As leader of the Democratic Unionist party he
denounced Unionist leaders who sought to set up cross-community governments as
traitors, an attitude that he maintained with extraordinary consistency from the
1960s until a few years ago.
Mr Adams, as the republican movement's outstanding leader, was equally opposed
to such arrangements, though from an entirely different perspective. He held
they were diversions from the central problem, which he defined as the British
presence in Northern Ireland.
While the pair maintained those positions for decades, Mr Adams was the first of
the two to broaden his analysis and definition of the issues, seeking secret
meetings with a range of political figures and others.
By the 1990s, those efforts produced an IRA ceasefire as republicans tested the
proposition that the negative power of their violence could be replaced by entry
into politics, with votes proving more effective than guns.
This peace process, which reduced but did not remove violence, was - in its
early years - a highly controversial project, with Mr Paisley leading the ranks
of those who condemned it and wanted it closed down.
But as the death rate fell and a semblance of normality returned to Belfast, the
benefits of the process became clear. It provided huge benefits to Sinn Fein,
whose vote rose dramatically so that it has become Northern Ireland's largest
The process was much more problematic for Mr Paisley, who was opposed to the
whole thing in principle and by gut instinct. But his party nonetheless accepted
posts in a power-sharing administration while refusing to attend cabinet
meetings with Sinn Fein, a stance that rivals described as "semi-detached".
Republicans have remained solidly attached to the peace process, with the IRA
eventually decommissioning its armoury and saying it was going out of business.
A key moment came when the DUP grew to become the largest Unionist party, a
position that meant Mr Paisley would get to be First Minister in any new
administration. That gave him the chance of moving on from perpetual opposition
and into powerful office.
He and his party brooded on the options for many months. Its choices were to
simply say no, thus blocking the formation of a new administration, or to agree
to take part in a coalition dominated by itself and Sinn Fein. He would be First
Minister but it would mean placing hmself at the head of a project he had spent
While the signs are that he decided some time ago that he would go for
devolution, a defining moment came earlier this month with elections to the
Assembly. His party scored a triumphant victory, banishing candidates who were
opposed to power-sharing.
On Saturday, a resolution supporting power-sharing was put to his party
executive and passed overwhelmingly, with some in the ranks who had seemed to be
doubters changing their position to one of support for the idea. All of that
amounted to approval for Mr Paisley going into government with a united party
and indeed a united Protestant electorate behind him, a level of support that
gave him the confidence to do business with his lifelong foes.
What happens next?
* The clock is ticking towards 8 May, the date set for the transfer of powers
from London to the Belfast Assembly. In the meantime, both Sinn Fein and the DUP
will attempt to postpone unpopular new water rates. They will also be calling on
Gordon Brown to increase a £1bn boost planned for the new administration. In the
next few days, work will also begin on a programme for government to be ready
for devolution. On 8 May, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are to be nominated
as First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The Assembly's four largest parties
will also nominate 10 departmental ministers.
Shaking the world
GORBACHEV and REAGAN (19 November 1985)
After more than 40 years of nuclear brinkmanship, the two met in Geneva to talk
about scaling back their arsenals and did the unthinkable - they shook hands.
RABIN, ARAFAT and CLINTON (13 September 1993)
Bitter rivals Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands at the White House. It
was the ultimate symbol of commitment to the Middle East peace process by two
men who were seen as lifelong enemies
MANDELA and DE KLERK (4 May 1990)
Mandela shook hands with the person who had come to symbolise the government
that imprisoned him. Although they remained bitter rivals, the moment came to
symbolise their commitment to South African society
NIXON and MAO (February 1972)
Setting aside two decades of bitter animosity, Nixon's surprise visit to
Communist China in 1972 and his subsequent handshake with the Chinese leader,
Mao Zedong, was described at the time as a meeting that "shook the world".
BEGIN and SADAT (26 March 1979)
The first of the Middle East's momentous handshakes, with Jimmy Carter at the
White House, sent shockwaves through the region. It ended 30 years of war
between Israel and Egypt, but led to Anwar Sadat's assassination.
The hands of history:
Two worlds come together to broker a new era of hope,
October 12, 1921
Don't be too tragic about Ireland
From the Guardian archive
Wednesday October 12, 1921
The Anglo-Irish Conference duly met
at Downing Street yesterday. We purposely express the fact in terms of
nationality, because that is the point of view from which it can most usefully
and truthfully be regarded.
But when people - Mr. De Valera is,
we fear, one of them - talk about Englishmen being "foreigners" and about
England as a foreign nation, politeness alone prevents us from telling them that
in our opinion they talk nonsense. Irishmen are not and never will be
Englishmen; even the Ulster and Orange brand is at bottom much more Irish than
it is English. But on the other hand a bond, even an unwilling bond, and a
continuous connection and inter-mixture going right back through the centuries
to a point not so very far removed from the Norman Conquest of this island
(which unfortunately was never completely extended to the outlying island) does
not count for nothing.
Neither does the fact that Irishmen have played a great part in English history
and literature, that we find ourselves very much at home in their land, and that
they have made themselves very much at home in ours. Therefore we positively
decline to recognise anything essentially foreign, and not even should they
insist on addressing Mr. Lloyd George in the Irish language (which to some of
them may sound less familiar than to that brother Celt) and calling in the
service of an interpreter will they persuade us to regard them as unqualified
They come as representatives of a nation to present a national case. No doubt
during the negotiations there may be a pretty heavy tug-of-war. But that is no
reason for taking the matter too tragically.
The fundamental fact is that both peoples want to be friends, and friends in the
end they will be.
Mr. Churchill has signalised himself quite recently by foolish talk about the
"real war" that is to follow should the present negotiations fail, in contrast
to the "mere bushranging" represented by the glorious achievements of our
Black-and-Tans. [The Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force of 7,000
ex-soldiers, a byword for brutality.]
But Mr. Churchill, who is a realist as well an orator, knows quite well that
nothing of the kind is going to happen, just because, whatever his own warlike
aspirations may be - and he has given abundant and at times disastrous proof of
them - they are not shared by the British people.
[The people] will not tolerate the renewal of the brutalities from which the
truce has relieved us and cannot be lashed into any frenzy of hate or terror.
From the Guardian archive > October 12, 1921 > Don't be too
tragic about Ireland,
G, Republished 12.10.2006,
May 4 1916
Interpreting the soul
of the rising
From The Guardian archive
May 4 1916
Few things indeed are harder than to interpret the soul of a
people or of a movement. Perhaps there lurks everywhere among men an element of
madness; certainly among men of Irish race the romantic, the irresponsible, the
desperate, the wild is never far from the smooth surface of things.
Nothing could seem on the face of it more hopeless than the attempt of a few
thousand men, even in the capital counting only a force relatively
insignificant, to upset the established government of the country, supported by
the great majority of people and backed by overwhelming civil and military
force. And yet the attempt was made — made, to all appearance, quite seriously,
and conceived and carried through its initial stage with great ability and
The men who have made the streets of Dublin run with blood and reduced part of
it to ruins, are not politicians, and they are not particularly sane. They are
mostly wild young spirits tired of the slow ways of political agitation and
easily led by fanatical and reckless men. Home Rule ought, of course, to have
been passed twenty years ago, in Gladstone's lifetime, when movements such as
this would have become for ever impossible and the young blood of Ireland would
have run in safer if more prosaic channels. Even now, with Home Rule almost in
sight and a better day dawning, only a strange combination of events could have
brought about such a catastrophe.
It had its seat and origin in Dublin, and could have taken place nowhere else.
In Dublin, side by side with the romantic and literary movement of the Sinn
Fein, there exists perennial misery of a kind hardly conceived in any English
city. Add to this that for the first time the people had arms, and it is no
wonder that desperate counsels were in the ascendant and desperate deeds were
Yet the truth remains that "this is not an Irish rebellion" — it is only a
rebellion of a relatively small section of Irishmen in a single great Irish
city, for outside Dublin the movement appears to have been almost wholly
abortive. The rebellion itself perhaps matters less than the place it is
destined to take in the consciousness of the Irish people and in the long memory
of Ireland. Of this much if not everything will depend on the way it is now
Three of the ringleaders have, it was yesterday stated, been tried by
courtmartial in Dublin and shot. Is that not enough?
Attributed to CP Scott
[On May 9, after nine more executions, a leader said:
"The Dublin military
are becoming an atrocity."]
From The Guardian
archive > May 4 1916 > Interpreting the soul of the rising,
May 1 1916
Women fight beside
From The Guardian archive
May 1 1916
"There are a conspicuous number of women fighting with the
rebels [in the Easter Rising], and some have been shot and some captured,"
declared a man who arrived in London from Dublin yesterday morning. "I saw a
number of women marching into Dublin on Sunday last. Some of them had naval
revolvers strapped round them. They were wearing a dark green uniform similar to
that of the male insurgents, and slouch hats. They consist largely of young
women, but there are a number of older ones, I believe. They had had training
with the men, for they do not lack a certain discipline and organisation. There
have been cases of military officers being shot from behind by women."
Dealing with the methods employed by the soldiers in their efforts to dislodge
the rebels from their positions, he said the rebels would allow the soldiers to
approach, and while the soldiers were pausing before the attack they would snipe
at them from the windows of houses.
The soldiers say that it is worse than France because they never know when to
expect to be fired upon or where the enemy is. They have now adopted better
tactics, however. They fire for a while at the houses and then a bombing party
rushes up with hand grenades. The rebels are driven from house to house, and the
direction from which firing comes is continually changing. The rebels, who know
every inch of the city, get away from the soldiers and appear somewhere else.
By knocking openings in the partition-walls of houses they have succeeded in
establishing covered communications. They occupied a number of big houses which
commanded important thoroughfares. They were burned out of one of these
strongholds in Percy Place, and gas was employed by the military in dislodging
them from part of the Post Office. The Sinn Feiners displayed a white flag of
sur render, but on an officer approaching to ascertain their meaning he was shot
dead. An R.A.M.C. man told me that there are few wounded rebels. Many have been
The population are making the most of the rebellion, and it is not the
insurgents themselves who are guilty of most of the looting. On Thursday night I
saw some women coming down Grafton Street carrying boxes of oranges taken from
some shop, and passers-by were helping themselves.
[James Connolly said in a message of support
to English suffragettes in 1913:
"When trimmers and compromisers disavow you,
I, a poor slum-bred politician,
raise my hat in thanksgiving that I lived
to see this resurgence of women."]
From The Guardian
archive > May 1 1916 > Women fight beside the rebels,
G, republished 1.5.2007,
March 24 1914
mutiny on the Curra
From The Guardian archive
[ Most Cavalry Brigade officers had made clear
that they would
prefer to be dismissed
rather than obey orders to act against moves
self-government in Ulster ]
March 24 1914
The contingent mutiny of the cavalry officers in Ireland has
raised political questions that make even Home Rule seem small. These officers
asserted the right to lay down the conditions under which they would continue to
serve the King. Has that right been recognised?
If the answer had been a plain 'No,' plain men would have had this cause for
thankfulness, that the supremacy of law had been vindicated and that the
Government, not the army — or a small section of fashionable men — were our
rulers. If the answer had been a plain 'Yes,' then these same men would have had
cause to fear the worst. When any future crisis came no Government could feel
sure that the weapon with which it is accustomed in the last resort to enforce
respect for the law would not break in its hands.
The officer has no rights that the private soldier has not. If the officer may
resign when he is threatened with work which he or his friends do not like, so
may the private soldier. The civil Government would have ceased to exist except
in so far as the army approved what it is doing, and the sovereignty of the
country would have been transferred from the people to a military caste.
Had Mr. Asquith's answer been an emphatic 'No,' he would have been supported by
every Liberal and by every Conservative who still believes in the old ideals of
his party. He has said neither 'Yes' nor 'No,' but his answer is much nearer
'Yes'. We say it with regret and some shame.
The duty of the Government was plain. When [the officers] threatened to resign
(that is, to desert or to absent themselves without leave) they should have been
dealt with exactly as private soldiers. They should have been tried by
court-martial, and punished. They have not been so treated, first, because they
were rich men; secondly, because they had the prejudices of their class.
Not only is there one law for the rich man in the army and another for the poor,
but there is one standard of a Tory officer's loyalty to his oath and another
for a private with Labour sympathies. For a Liberal Government to acquiesce is
not only to deal a serious blow at the army but to be false to the whole
conception of democratic progress. What worse risks were there that compelled
the Government to take a risk like this? We cannot imagine.
Attributed to CE Montague
From The Guardian
March 24 1914,
Contingent mutiny on the Curra,
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Reuters > Factbox: Fraught
Anglo-Irish conflict goes back centuries
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Terrorism > 9/11 > CIA > torture
USA / Cuba > Terrorism > Guantánamo Bay