‘Talking to Terrorists’: British Government Contacts with the IRA 1972–74
On 24 March 1972, Prime Minister Edward Heath announced the suspension of the Northern Ireland Parliament, ending 50 years of Unionist rule. For many the demise of Stormont was a victory for the Provisional IRA (PIRA) insurgency to drive the British out of the North of Ireland. Among the senior leadership of the Provos were Sean MacStiofain (the Chief of Staff), Ruairi O Bradaigh (also referred to as Rory O’Brady) and Daithi O Conaill (also referred to as David O’Connell), who had seemingly brought the British Government to this point. Victory appeared close. To accommodate the Northern Protestant majority in the united Ireland the Provisionals hoped would eventually emerge from the termination of British rule, Republicans developed their Dáil Uladh policy, which would see the establishment of a nine-county Ulster Parliament in a federal Ireland. Dáil Uladh, it was argued, was the solution to the partition problem and an answer to the Unionist fear of being swamped in a Catholic dominated Republic. In the PIRA analysis, ‘Unionist intransigence lies in the fear of the loss of power … and without the power to administer their own destiny, the Northern Unionists would never be content within a United Ireland’.
KeywordsWhite Paper Security Force Political Prisoner Republican Movement British Troop
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