August 9: TODAY in Irish History:
Today in Irish History: Curated by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks
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August 9: TODAY in Irish History:
1690: Siege of Limerick commences when William of Orange encamps just outside the walls of the old city, with an army of about 26,000; the Irish defenders were similar in number thought not nearly as well armed.
1971: Internment is introduced in Northern Ireland. As violence continued to flare in the North, Unionist Prime Minister Brian Faulkner was under increasing pressure to halt Republican violence and bombings against the institutions of Northern Ireland.
A conflict that had simmered, sometimes boiled since the introduction of the Northern Ireland state in 1922 was by now reaping terrible toil.
Just two years previously, the British Army entered Derry to a hero’s reception from the Catholic population which was in fear of Loyalist attacks. This warm reception soon turned to violence as an IRA campaign against “British Occupation” targeted RUC and army personnel in deadly attacks.
The introduction of internment gave the authorities the power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists without trial. More than 300 Republican suspects were detained in early morning raids.
Faulkner claimed that Northern Ireland was “quite simply at war with the terrorist.” (In the 1940s, Eamonn De Valera in the South of Ireland had also introduced internment against Republicans, many of whom would have fought with Dev and his colleagues during the War of Independence.)
Internment provoked even greater violence in the North.. Exactly what the authorities could have done in the circumstances is difficult to know, but internment proved a recruitment boon to the IRA. Arrests were often made based on outdated information. The internment of innocent Nationalists provoked even greater anger. (This is not to suggest that the majority of those interned were innocent parties.) While the bulk of the violence that prompted internment was IRA based, Loyalist paramilitaries were also involved in violence although none were interned.
In the immediate violence that followed, twelve people including two women would die. Most (if not all) were innocent civilians killed by a British parachute regiment in the Ballymurphy area in what has become known as the Ballymurphy massacre. Those killed included Father Hugh Mullan who had gone to the aid of a wounded parishioner. In 1972, the British Government announced that control of security and policing would be handled by Westminister and not Faulkner’s government. Later, Stormont would be suspended and direct rule implemented.
Excellent page at Museum of Free Derry
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