Battle for Ulster
A Study of Internal Security
Tom F. Baldy
Attention to the conflict in Northern Ireland is often pre-empted in North America by such other international problems as worldwide terrorism, eruptions in the Middle East, and insurgencies in Latin America. The Irish “troubles” seem to catch our attention primarily as headline events, such as the 1981 hunger strikes or the 1983 Christmas bombing of Harrod’s department store. Yet the protracted violence in Northern Ireland doesn’t cease between spectacular and heavily reported incidents—the violence continues daily. Indeed, since 1969, terrorist violence has killed more than 2,500 people and injured another 29,000.
As Tom F, Baldy points out in this study, the British government’s internal security operation has sought for years to control the violence in Northern Ireland. To explain the existing situation, Mr. Baldy reviews the historical roots of the conflict, identifies its major factions, and outlines various options for its resolution. Baldy contends the British have managed, with their internal security operation, to limit open violence, but have failed to attain the ultimate objective: a workable, mutually acceptable political solution. Keeping that British goal in mind, Baldy speculates on Northern Ireland’s future.
The “troubles” in Northern Ireland pose a continuing challenge to one of the United States’ most reliable and closest allies. The unique local issues aside, Britain’s effort to resolve the conflict within the United Kingdom nevertheless provides insights for people and governments confronting terrorism and guerrilla warfare in many other areas of the world, and reminds all of the dangers of factionalism for free governments.