‘RA Fought The Law And The Law Won

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Veteran BBC filmmaker Peter Taylor has said in a programme to be shown on Monday night that the ‘war’ was ultimately won by the British Government and unionists.

The English-born journalist, who has made almost 100 films in Northern Ireland over four decades returned to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA and Loyalist ceasefires. He met high-profile figures again to ask whether they still agreed with past interviews, questioning Martin McGuinness [above] about claims that it would only be the “cutting edge of the IRA” that would bring about freedom.

Who Won the War? is on BBC One on Monday at 9pm.


British and unionists won ‘war’ says Troubles journalist Peter Taylor (Marie Louise McConville, Irish News)
[behind paywall]

27 thoughts on “‘RA Fought The Law And The Law Won

  1. singing detective

    If you take the main goal of the British Government and the Unionists as keeping Northern Ireland in Britain and the Republicans wanted it back in Ireland, then they did definitely won. Except for the fact that everyone else just wanted them to stop killing each other over some land. So, in the end, all non-murdering bastards won the day.

  2. Drogg

    Nobody won the war because it wasn’t a war. A senior BBC journalist should know that it was a guerrilla campaign against an oppressive government and sectarian violence between provisional groups. It sounds like this moron is trying to get violence going again, by telling the IRA that they lost.

    1. cormacjones

      That’s nonsense. Peter Taylor is an outstanding journalist who has done a lot of excellent, thoughtful reporting of the troubles. All the protagonists called it a war at one stage or another.

      1. Drogg

        That doesn’t matter the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t a war and he must be missing his old filming days because on british national television telling a former IRA commander that they lost the war is a sure fire way to spark the fire in some morons head that they should start killing again.

        1. cormacjones

          You keep saying it wasn’t a war but don’t back it up with an explanation. Why was it not considered a war? You must have a very narrow definition of the word.

          1. Drogg

            See my answer below to medium sized c, but even if it was a war or if you call it a conflict there was still no winners, there are no winners in conflicts like this only losers.

    2. Medium Sized C

      I disagree with your saying it wasn’t a war.
      I mean what criteria makes it a war that the troubles didn’t satisfy?

      Even the language you used to negate its theoretical status as a war does more to support it.
      Guerilla from “Guerra” which is the word for war for an enormous amount of the people in the world.

      1. Drogg

        All documentation calls it a conflict and part of the reason for the Hunger strikes was the fact that the Brits wouldn’t recognise the IRA members as POW’s because they where not a legitimate army.

        1. Medium Sized C

          Semantics.
          Wars are conflicts.

          One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.
          One mans prisoner of war is another mans civil prisoner.

          You haven’t addressed any criteria that havent been satisfied, only pointed out that the British didn’t consider it a war. Probably for convenience or traditions sake.

        2. Clampers Outside!

          “The Troubles in Northern Ireland”. What a bloody stupid phrase. What do they think two thousand people have died from? Stress?
          — Henry, Drop the Dead Donkey

          And what Medium Sized C said too!

          1. trobuff

            Over 3,000 actually.

            From throughout the ’60s and ’70s both republican and unionist paramilitary groups called it a war. The UVF declared war on the IRA in the late ’60s, and the IRA never stopped calling it “the long war”. Ian Paisley, talking to David Frost in 2008, called it a war (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_Yr6i0_9Hs), despite the DUP campaigning against it being reclassified as a war the same year, preferring to call it a “seedy, grubby, sectarian terrorist campaign” (with no criticism of the UVF’s similarly dirty tactics).

            The only people who did not call it a war were the British, who were, in theory, meant to be impartial, but even they referred to it as such only a few years back, in paperwork I’m irritated I can’t locate (though it was definitely well reported on).

            It is, as Medium Sized C says, semantics.

      2. Spaghetti Hoop

        Agree.
        Since the Cold War there has been this tendency to use words like ‘conflict’, ‘troubles’, ‘dispute’. Bosnia is another good example, initially referred to as a ‘conflict’. The word ‘Troubles’ trivialised the events in the North somewhat, as if it were just a series of grievances. Of course it suited the British governments to refer to it as such and not pander to the IRA calls for war status.

        It’s interesting to get these hindsight accounts from journalists though. UTV documented the accounts of reporters, photographers, TV crews etc. called The Troubles I’ve Seen. Worth a watch. Those guys saw it all from within the crossfire and were integral to testifying at the various Inquiries over the years. A bit foolish to be calling out ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ though.

  3. Jam

    it depends on what you consider the war to be about. if you frame it as being about civil rights and equality you would reach a different conclusion. Either way, its unhelpful and inflammatory to air a documentary claiming victory for one side.

    1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      +1969

      The unionists feel like they have lost power – having to share it with taigs, having to treat them like equal citizens.

      Nobody getting 100% of what they want, is possibly the right outcome. I am not sure the balance is right, currently. I would like to see a 32 county entity but at least the killing has stopped. I feel that unity is more likely to succeed after a period of peace, rather than after a period of violence.

    2. Medium Sized C

      Bollox to that.

      If he spent as much time as is suggested studying and covering the conflict, he has a right to a respected opinion. People clearly aren’t as easily inflammed as you seem to thing they are.
      And I’m not sure what you think journalism and documentarism is supposed to help.

      1. Jam

        Of course he has a right to an opinion. As do I. In my opinion, the airing of this particular opinion is inflammatory and unhelpful. If you were from the area, as I am, you would know just how easily people are inflamed by things like this. I think there is a journalistic duty to be balanced when reporting on or documenting conflict. See Fox news for the alternative. To claim victory for one side is, in my opinion, simplistic and one sided.

  4. PhilJo

    Seeing as the demands of the civil rights movement in 69 were met, would it not be fair to say that the civil rights movement won the war?

    Even if Sinn Fein appear to have won the peace.

    1. bisted

      …nail on the head….Sinn Fein have won the peace. This is a typical Irish News headline that demonstrates the bitterness still felt by a shade of catholic nationalism at an ungrateful public who have voted for Sinn Fein instead of SDLP.

  5. William H Smyth

    So glad that that question has finally been answered, such a good use of the BBC license fee.

    I wonder if they will pay any attention to the losers in Ulster/Northern Ireland/ Da North (delete as appropriate)
    who happen to be the people who live there governed by the incompetent

    Most of us have surrendered the will to live

  6. Dubloony

    But they all seem to be stuck – killing mainly stopped but there’s more walls up between areas in Belfast now than was 20 years ago.

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