Provisional IRA formally ceases Violence
The 28th of July 2005 AD
When the Provisional IRA formally declared the end to its armed campaign it was the news that peace campaigners thought that they may never hear. It was a realisation of the Good Friday Agreement ’s principals to champion wholly peaceful measures; with so many political fudges, it came a full seven years after the ink dried at Belfast , a sure indicator of the fraught difficulties in securing a lasting peace.
Given the seemingly irreconcilable rivalries aligned across the political, religious, and social fault-lines of Northern Ireland’s society, decommissioning was always going to be difficult. A farewell to arms was the hardest measure to regulate, encourage, and enforce. The Good Friday Agreement proposed disarmament from all sides within two years. Yet paramilitary violence was still adding to an atmosphere of the most uneasy peace. Reprising its earlier role as ‘protector’ of the Catholic community, any Loyalist violence was seen by the IRA as a legitimate reason not to decommission first. Trusting the security services to provide adequate protection was still some way off.
Yet the world was changing. 9/11 had shifted the West’s attention from Northern Ireland’s troubles to the growing crisis of Islamic Fundamentalism. After years of Sinn Féin’s political advances, the IRA’s intentions to make the British leave Northern Ireland by force were long becoming an anachronism. Northern Ireland was changing; businesses were coming back, violence was on the wain, setbacks in dialogue between Unionists, Nationalists and Republicans no longer meant a return to violence.
Three weeks after the 7/7 bombings on London’s underground the IRA called an unequivocal and permanent ceasefire. The point scoring after the announcement were moot; there were no real victors in The Troubles. For 30 years, few of Northern Ireland’s protagonists could claim to hold the moral high ground when atrocities were routinely countered and escalated. Finally, it had come to an end.
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