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Provisional IRA: War, ceasefire, endgame?
Intro
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
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Derry and Belfast: Engulfed in violence
Responsibility for deaths
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Profiles:
Martin McGuinness

Leading republican

At the age of 21, Martin McGuinness became one of the leaders of the Provisional IRA in 1971. Long regarded by unionists as an “IRA godfather”, few doubt that his influence over the militarists, along with Gerry Adams, has been instrumental in developing the political strategy. He became education minister in the new executive in 1999.

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1971 Internment

On 9 August 1971, the Northern Ireland government introduced internment without trial in a desperate attempt to stop the escalating violence, blame for which they placed firmly at the door of the republicans.

The security forces attempted to arrest more than 400 republicans in a dawn raid. But the intelligence was so poor that more than 100 of those arrested had to be released within days. Many of the new Provisional IRA leadership, including a young Martin McGuinness, escaped.

Three days of serious violence led to 23 deaths but internment stayed in place. As the numbers of those interned increased (reaching more than 900 by 1972), so did the anger among Catholics who believed that many of their own were being needlessly criminalised.

Internment provided the IRA with an opportunity to win support and recruit from within the Catholic community for violent resistance of the security forces - an opportunity it did not pass up.

Audio
NI Prime Minister Brian Faulkner: "I took this serious decision to secure life and property"
The aftermath: Violence and destruction in Northern Ireland.

Open Quotes
I swear that for the remainder of my life, I will not join or assist any illegal organisation or engage in any volence or counsel or encourage others to do so
Oath required of internees on release
Close Quotes

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