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Provisional IRA: War, ceasefire, endgame?
Intro
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
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Residents flee burning homes, Belfast
Deaths by status of victim
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profiles
Profiles:
John Hume

SDLP leader (retired)

Derry-born, John Hume emerged as a leader of the civil rights movement and unequivocally rejected the violence he witnessed in the 1970s. For 30 years, the Nobel Peace Prize winner remained a tireless campaigner for peace and his secret talks with republicans, beginning in 1987, were instrumental in bolstering the movementís shift towards politics.

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1969 Provisionals emerge

Northern Ireland slid into violence in the late 1960s as the unionist-dominated state resisted demands from Catholics for civil rights and equality.

Apart from some sporadic campaigns, the IRA had long been dormant and as the violence worsened, some of its traditional supporters accused it of failing to defend the Catholic community: Graffiti reading "IRA - I Ran Away" appeared in many areas.

Such was the near anarchy, the Irish government even suggested that it would be forced to intervene.

Amid the violence and rows over how to react, what remained of the IRA was already heading for a split over the place of constitutional politics in its movement.

The more Marxist "Official" IRA wanted at least a token recognition of parliamentary politics and the Dublin government.

Hardliners not only demanded action on the streets but regarded political abstention as an article of faith. They said that recognition of the Dail, Dublin's parliament, would entrench partition. They split to form the "Provisional" IRA.

It was the Provisional IRA, later to be just the IRA, which became the main republican paramilitary organisation resisting British rule in Northern Ireland.

Audio
Irish Prime Minister Jack Lynch:  The Irish government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse 
Martin McGuinness and Daithi O' Conaill hold a Provisional IRA press conference (1972)

Open Quotes
Once large-scale communal disturbances occur ... either they must be suppressed by overwhelming force which, save in the last resort, is not acceptable in our society ... or a political solution must be devised
Scarman Tribunal inquiry into the violence of 1969-70
Close Quotes

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