Background to Northern Ireland
Author:Arthur Booth
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

23rd July 2018

This is not precisely a left-wing document, but many thanks to the person who scanned it and forwarded it to the Archive.

Produced by the Quakers it offers an intriguing view of the conflict on the island in the North in particular during this period. In some ways it is very simplistic, as is to be expected with a short document. This following extract gives a flavour.

It asks ‘Who is really responsible for the violence?’

Surprising as it may seem, this is not an easy question to answer. Certainly the IRA is responsible for a good deal of it, but not for all of it. Protestant extremists, anarchistic groups, and criminal elements from outside, taking advantage of the breakdown of law and order, may all be involved. Some of the hardest battles fought by the Army have been against Protestants, and names like Dungiven, Shankill and Newtownards come easily to mind. The IRA too is split – the Regulars, political and socialists; the Provisionals, nationalist, even fascist, more overtly violent. Both sections seek the unity of Ireland.

Nonetheless most useful as a sense of how the context shaped the perspective of those on the ground and elsewhere.


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  • By: Aonrud ⚘ Mon, 23 Jul 2018 06:34:21

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  • By: Geraldus Galwensis Mon, 23 Jul 2018 09:36:27

    At the outbreak of conflict in 1969 Quakers, a tiny and discreet minority, began contributing to church groups writing background and what they considered to be impartial briefing documents. The British Council of Churches, for example, in 1970 published a briefing pamphlet for parish groups around Britain. Dennis P. Barret was a prominent NI Quaker much involved in ‘background’ inter-church initiatives to try and prevent people getting sucked into the troubles. He published a pamphlet entitled Northern Ireland: a problem for every solution. The gist of this was that federal, independence, united Ireland, condominium and other ‘solutions’ being proposed by independent thinkers etc. all had snags. It would be interesting to see if his publication discussed any of the things that eventually appeared in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

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