As time passes, I’m finding myself drawn more and more to the how-about-if-it-happened-to-you school of thought. That’s to say, if an action is proposed by unionists, they should first ask themselves “How would we feel if this were done to us?” And vice versa - republicans should consider how they would be affected if unionist were to do what they’re considering.
I find this notion pressing in on me this morning after reading an article in The Irish Times by Margaret Urwin. In it she notes an article in that newspaper last month by Prof Henry Patterson, titled ‘Could Dublin have done more to defeat the IRA?’ Ms Urwin’s point is simple and worthy of consideration: “He [Prof Patterson] omitted to mention the critical point that the Border was porous in both directions."
She concedes that some IRA people did flee south and find refuge, but she notes that 50 people were killed in the south as a result of loyalist attacks in the other direction, and hundreds more injured. “Yet not a single loyalist was convicted for any of these murders”.
She notes how released documents show that from September 1974, four specialist panels of RUC and Garda officers were set up and met on a monthly basis, co-ordinating counter-paramilitary actions: “What is striking about the record of the September meeting is the total absence of any reference to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings only four months earlier, in which 34 people lost their lives. Nor was there any mention of possible future forays into the Republic by loyalists. The discussions concentrated entirely on IRA violence”. In fact, the commander of the British army in the north expressed the view that “any action designed to put pressure on people north of the Border would be the wrong response to the situation." In short, a decision not to arrest loyalist paramilitaries was taken.
Maybe the work of academics like Prof Patterson should be more comprehensive.
Here’s the link to the article: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/both-uk-and-ireland-failed-to-focus-on-loyalist-violence-1.1552977#.UlUVIWG2JXg.gmail