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IRA Provo Terrorism

Between 1969 and 1981, at least 1525 civilians were killed in the "troubles" in Northern Ireland or Ulster.1 This is by far the highest death toll inflicted by political violence in recent years in Western Europe, or indeed anywhere outside of the Third World. Most of this civilian death toll has been inflicted by several terrorist groups representing both the "Catholic" and the "Protestant" sides in Northern Ireland's civil conflict. Of these, the most violent and the best known is the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army, commonly known as the IRA Provos or simply the Provos.

In this study, the conduct and motivation of the Provos will be used as a case study of terrorism in general: who commits it, why it is committed, and what  if anything  is gained by it. The thesis of this study is that political terrorism is morally, ethically, legally, and politically indefensible. It is morally and ethically indefensible because its purpose, indeed its definition, is the maiming or slaughter of innocent people in pursuit of a political end. It is legally indefensible because the terrorist, even if successful, has by his conduct planted the seeds of violent opposition, even terrorism, against himself. And it is politically indefensible because for all the blood it sheds it fails to achieve the ends for which it is supposedly justified by its perpetrators.

Before we can discuss IRA Provo terrorism, or any terrorism, we must deal with a question of political and ideological overtones. A violent political movement may be defined as "terrorists", "guerillas," or "freedom fighters," depending on the political objectives of the movement and the political attitudes of the definer. Among conservatives and rightists, it is sometimes used to brand revolutionary movements, thus one work on fighting terrorism sports an introduction by convicted IranContra figure Robert C. McFarlane.2 On the other side of the p...

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IRA Provo Terrorism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:55, June 15, 2019, from