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Why were British troops sent to Northern Ireland in 1969? Ireland in Schools Parkside Community Comprehensive School.

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Presentation on theme: "Why were British troops sent to Northern Ireland in 1969? Ireland in Schools Parkside Community Comprehensive School."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Why were British troops sent to Northern Ireland in 1969? Ireland in Schools Parkside Community Comprehensive School

3 The intervention Londonderry August 1969

4 The Battle of the Bogside

5 Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland

6 When? 14 August –Londonderry/Derry Bogside 16 August –Belfast Falls/Shankill

7 Belfast: burning & evacuation Over 1,800 families were forced out of their homes, of whom some 1,500 were Catholics.

8 Why were troops sent? Immediate cause

9 Why? The official reason was to protect the Catholic population, especially in Belfast, against Loyalist attacks. –At first Catholics welcomed British troops as impartial or neutral peace-keepers. Privately the British government was aware that the number of disturbances across Northern Ireland was so great that the strong RUC could not cope any longer. British secret intelligence wrongly believed the IRA was about to launch an uprising in Belfast and Londonderry. –In fact the IRA lacked arms, membership and popular support at this time.

10 Why were troops sent? Medium-term causes A divided society

11 Why political violence in 1969? Failure of leadership on all sides in Northern Ireland to manage change. By the 1960s a significant number of people on both sides of the sectarian and political divide wanted to change Northern Ireland and give it –a fairer society and –a modern economy They seriously under-estimated the economic and communal obstacles to a true liberal democracy

12 Who wanted what in the 1960s? For changeAgainst changeOwn agendas Moderate unionists, such as Terence O’Neill Members of the NI government, such as Brian Faulkner British government Campaign for Social Justice Ian Paisley & Free Presbyterians Orange Order People’s Democracy Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) Some of RUC B-Specials Irish Republican Army

13 What did civil rights supporters want? one man one vote –the right of everyone over 18 to vote and an end to extra votes for people owning businesses an end to gerrymandering –which fixed constituency boundaries to create unionist control of Catholic areas an end to discrimination in the allocation of government jobs fair allocation of local council houses the end of the Special Powers Act the disbanding of the B Specials and a formal complaints procedure against local authorities.

14 Two Catholic grievances

15 Can you identify the demands?

16 Marches & leaders The police were relatively relaxed in early demonstrations. Leaders Bottom left Austin Currie Bottom right John Hume

17 Why did civil rights lead to violence?

18 Terence O’Neill, NI PM His failings Orangeman Visiting a Catholic school Meeting the Taoiseach O'Neill was a moderate politician, who found it very difficult to deal with extremists. His reforms were hurried. They were too radical for his unionist critics, but not radical enough for his republican critics.

19 Radicalism in the civil rights Movement The NICRA was concerned first and foremost with the issue of civil rights, and many Protestants supported this. However, some of the leading figures in the civil rights movement were republican Nationalists. Many others believed in socialist principles, especially the leaders of the People's Democracy (PD) movement. Northern Ireland was a very conservative society, and socialist ideas were still treated with suspicion. Bernadette Devlin

20 A new tone in civil rights marches Londonderry, 1968 Note the socialist symbols

21 Protestant opposition & resentment Rev. Dr Ian Paisley Many working-class Loyalists were angry at the demands of the 'civil righters'. They resented the impression given in the media that only Catholics suffered hardships while a privileged Protestant community looked down on them. They also had to deal with poor living conditions and hardship. ‘It was all Catholics this, the Catholics that, living in poverty and us lording it over them. People looked around and said, ‘What are they talking about us? With the damp running down the walls and the houses not fit to live in.’

22 Other causes Sectarian prejudice Clearly, long-standing sectarian prejudice played a major part in explaining the long-term civil rights abuses. It was also one reason for the violence in The government's own report (by the Cameron Commission) went out of its way to criticise the sectarian bias in the actions of some RUC officers and B-Specials. It made it clear that the marchers were not violent. Media attention The entire saga took place under the gaze of the television cameras. This raised the stakes and heightened confrontation. Fear of the IRA Many Protestants, including many in the Northern Ireland government, saw the civil rights movement as a plot to destabilise Northern Ireland, little more than a front for an IRA attack backed up by the Republic. With hindsight, this fear of the IRA may seem to be nonsense. The IRA was virtually nonexistent at this time. However, Protestants had seen thousands of Catholics turn out to parades commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Some politicians in the Republic made tensions worse since they were suspected of helping to fund the IRA. Marching & confrontation Marching has a long tradition in Northern Ireland. It has often led to confrontation. The People's Democracy march in January 1969 deliberately took a route through sensitive areas, which would be sure to stir up Protestant hostility.

23 Confrontation The most spectacular confrontation happened on 4 January 1969 (top and bottom right). Then a march organised by the PD was ambushed by loyalists at Burntollet, near Londonderry. The police appeared to do little to protect the marchers.

24 Aftermath 1 Did the troops restore order?

25 Initial honeymoon A corporal from the Parachute Regiment described his experiences in 1969: We used to just wander around in pairs like policemen. You’d go out for a two-hour patrol and in two hours you drank twenty cups of tea because everybody wanted to give you a cup of tea and a sandwich. We called it the honeymoon tour. We had a disco every night and the girls used to come in... That’s where a lot of the lads met their wives. Because we were in a predominantly Protestant area we had all Protestants, but down at TIC HQ on Hastings Street, right on the peace line between the Falls and Shankill Roads, they had a big massive disco and used to get women from both sides. Everybody used to mix together. There was no trouble at all.

26 Aftermath 2 Further descent into political violence

27 30 years of political violence Peace initiatives failed in face of opposition Protestants spearheaded by Ian Paisley With Protestant paramilitary forces on hand Maintain United Kingdom Keep Dublin government out of Northern Ireland Revived IRA With political wing, Sinn Fein, led by Gerry Adams Eject Britain & British troops from Northern Ireland United Ireland

28 Attempts at a peace settlement Stormont was abolished in NI was ruled directly from Westminster. Attempts were then made to restore devolved government in NI Power-Sharing Executive & Sunningdale Agreement Anglo-Irish Agreement Downing Street Declaration Good Friday Agreement An enthusiastic reception by the Belfast Telegraph for the first IRA ceasefire, 31 August 1994

29 Ian Paisley & other Unionists Opposing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement Among other things, the British government recognised the Republic’s right to make proposals on matters relating to Northern Ireland the Republic recognised a united Ireland was a long-term aim which would only come about with the approval of the majority in Northern Ireland.

30 Protestant paramilitaries Ulster Defence Association parades, 1972/97 & Ulster Volunteer Force gunmen

31 Opposing views There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing, or political violence. We will not compromise on this. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 1981 Our aim is to create such psychological damage to the Brits that they’ll withdraw. Sick of the expense, the hassle, the coffins coming back to England. IRA member known only as ‘Pat’ Victims of the troubles, Civilians2064 All security forces1036 All paramilitaries 536 Total3636

32 After the honeymoon

33 Mutual outrage In 1979 the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten, uncle of Queen Elizabeth II. Funeral of hunger striker Bobby Sands, May 1981

34 How things change: 2007 Northern Ireland’s arch-enemies declare peace Ian Paisley met Gerry Adams and agreed to share power with Sinn Fein, 26 March. Paisley became first minister of NI on 8 May, with Martin McGuinness as his deputy.


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