Courage and the Northern Troubles
Deaglán de Bréadún
It is reported that some people who displayed “courage” in denouncing the IRA during the recent Troubles were miffed because they weren’t invited to any of the events surrounding the current British royal visit.
You wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The real courage in the Troubles was displayed by the likes of John Hume and Albert Reynolds (not to mention Bill Clinton) who braved hostile media and other opinion to make contact with the Provos and show them there was indeed another way.
It took very little courage to denounce the IRA from the mid-70s onward. The burning of the British Embassy in 1972 was the high water-mark of sympathy for militant republicanism: after that the tide ran out very rapidly for the Provisionals.
But Hume in particular was hounded and reviled for his (ultimately successful) attempt to get the peace process off the ground. The campaign against him will be forever etched in the memories of anyone who was around at the time.