The IRA and Northern Ireland


Sir, – Bravo to Stephen Collins for pointing out how false is the narrative that the Provisional IRA’s terrorist campaign was essential to the struggle for justice in Northern Ireland (“Nothing necessary about the Provisional IRA campaign”, Opinion & Analysis, December 28th). The two books he reviewed about John Hume’s work refute Sinn Féin’s doctrine that it was simply the IRA’s campaign that changed things in the North.

On the other hand it would not be accurate to claim that IRA violence changed nothing. It set back by 50 years Mr Hume’s objective of creating harmony between all the people of Ireland, while even to explore the possibility of consent to territorial unification is out of question for perhaps a century. This is what IRA-Sinn Féin has achieved. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Stephen Collins worries about the wide acceptance of a narrative that the IRA campaign during the recent conflict “was a necessary part of the struggle for justice and equality in Northern Ireland”.

Among visible expressions of that claim of historical justification, he says, is the proliferation of memorials to IRA volunteers killed during the conflict.

I totally sympathise with his predicament. I felt the same four months ago when he spoke at a memorial to a famous gunman and member of a proscribed organisation in Glasnevin Cemetery (“Michael Collins commemoration is told that Irish politics is ‘the outraged versus those who want to govern’”, August 20th). – Yours, etc,