Northern Ireland, then and in the future

What I write here is a cryptic account of what I’ve posted before concerning life in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. I do so because now there is an upsurge of terror yet again, but this time denounced by the greater majority of the Catholics and all of the Protestants. I am an Englishman who was sent off to Belfast by the Navy during the war and on demobilisation returned to live here. When I came home I looked upon the Orange order as an outfit similar to the Boy Scouts and the Salvation Army, how wrong I was. In the 60s Northern Ireland had a flourishing economy to the extent that it was contributing to the national exchequer, not as now, holding out a begging bowl.. At that time a large proportion of the Catholic population looked upon themselves as second-class citizens, and were aggrieved. I had a close friend who was a Roman Catholic and felt this way, and many a night we argued till the small hours, and the fact that he had a good job, a nice home and a comfortable life, made no difference, it was ingrained.

Living for 30 years in a reign of terror is debilitating in every aspect of life, there is tangible fear, irritation, frustration and immense hatred. There are threats, abuses, gang warfare and even collusion between the two opposition parties when it comes to criminal activities. There is serious structural damage, incredible expense for security reasons, and the whole population is subjected daily, even hourly, to body searches when going in and out of offices and shops, which alone is degrading and has a psychological effect . Something like the sacking of someone for criminal actions, can result in the sacker being subjected to some form of revenge, either personally physical, or to their property. I personally was threatened to be shot by the Royal Marines, even though I was a senior civil servant, English and ex-Navy. Criminal activities were rife, building contractors of every sort were paying protection money. Burglary was a daily event, my house was burgled five times and my cars stolen on four occasions, once by the IRA who put up 1000 miles in 10 days. I was held up by Republicans, by the UDA, and children with Molotov cocktails in the hands and a cigarette lighter to fire them up. Evening entertainment in the town was almost non-existent, and this is what a small proportion of The Republican movement wants to take us back to.

During the troubles if there were disturbances in many areas, children were at the forefront stoning the police, the ambulancemen, or hijacking vehicles and setting them alight. These youngsters came, in the main, from depressed areas which themselves were under the control of the combattants.. Some of those areas were no go areas to the police and the army for the obvious strategic reasons, and so knee capping, shooting and punishment beatings were the order of the day. In America the Irish lobby had a vicarious interest in supplying the Republicans with finances and arms, I assume it made them feel that they were part of this glorious war, which was not a war at all, but just a lot of young man treating other people, as they put it, as ‘soft targets’ . It is my firm conviction because youngsters are still stoning, is that what is happening here with this new outrage, is that some people want to maintain a steady influx of youngsters to the cause,.

Categorized as General

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