Free Too Long a Sacrifice Essay Sample


The book, Too Long a Sacrifice: Life and Death in Northern Ireland since 1969 by Jack Holland addresses the 1970s phase of political struggle in Northern Ireland and the consequential deaths and unbearable sacrifices as well. According to Jack, establishing a political framework for self-governance within Northern Ireland was for a long time a modern day attempt to do the impossible. The problem within 1970s was how this was to be done and this is what brought so much suffering to the people of Northern Ireland.

There was an unambiguous anxiety regarding developing Sinn Fein, as this was perceived as threatening to expose the movement's restricted support and cast the IRA as a 'party political' and not a 'national' movement. But the option of establishing counter state institutions within catholic ghettos, for instance attempts to establish cooperative enterprises, pursued dynamically during the Truce was difficult to put into practice and was prone to change into troublesome extortion rackets that isolated the community. According to me, this is what resulted into immense suffering in the Northern Ireland just as jack puts in his book.

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The conflict that has been in Northern Ireland is hard to grasp until one realises that the problem is more complicated than the stereotyped war regarding religion and up to this point I concur with Jack Holland. For example, the 1973 attempt was the first to try to reconstruct some form of self-governance within Northern Ireland after its parliament at Stormont was put an end and direct rule imposed from the British parliament at Westminster.  The aims of this attempt were personified within the Sunning dale Agreement of 1973. Even though the 1973 attempt failed, it is important since it has two elements that all serious attempts have included: a power-sharing government with responsibilities delegated from Westminster, and the inclusion of the Republic of Ireland in the future of the North.

Jack Holland elaborates what took place between 1969 and 1976 in Northern Ireland. There was abolition of Stormont as well as the Northern Ireland executive. Northern Ireland having been ignored by London for about fifty years, unionist domination of the political and social life within Northern Ireland developed the seeds of its won destruction. Lack of agreement from its citizens made the Northern Ireland system special within western democracies but by late 1960s, even Ulster was being swept up within the global tide of civil rights activists as well as youthful protesters. When both catholic and protestant violence could not be managed and controlled, the province administration was turned over to "direct rule". On New on New Year's Day 1974 the initial attempt was made to fill the gap within self-governance in addition to establishing political peace. The power sharing Northern Ireland executive and all-Ireland Council were ground breaking experiments, joining Protestants and Catholics on an equal footing within the hallowed halls of government. Even though the 1973 attempt failed, it is the foundation of all serious attempts at peace from 1974. just like the Northern Ireland assembly, executive as well as the Council tried to progress and improve the Stormont system, so too have the numerous successive attempts at peace from 1974 been better versions of this.

This book also provides the break down order of the civil rights movements as well as the British army. The veneer of Northern Irish society that covered nearly fifty years of Protestant domination cracked within 1960s when Catholic dissatisfaction with their lack of being involved within the government found a voice within civil rights organisations and marches. The civil rights movement started in 1968 was not triggered off by notions of united Ireland but protesters wanted to change and reform the political, economical as well as social discrimination in the existing system, not tear it down. Paradoxically, right-wing loyalists as well as unionists maintained that each and every challenge to discriminatory practices was an attack on the whole system of the state. The civil rights movement borrowed liberally from the American civil rights campaigns in addition to the theories of non-violence. Sadly, the peaceful demonstrations were met by hostile and unreceptive Protestants opponents and very fast the peaceful demonstrations became violent and this led to numerous deaths of the citizens during the violence. Britain hesitated in getting involved until the crisis became deep and there was much violence and this threatened complete collapse of the Northern Ireland system.

The Irish republican army was reborn as a result of political and social violence. Before 1969, old guard leader of the IRA started incorporating a Marxist political philosophy into the organisation. The violent crackdown of the Derry protest converted some members that owing to the new left-wing influence, the IRA could not offer Catholics with either physical protections or civil rights reforms. The IRA's humiliating absence during Derry riots provoked graffiti in Catholic ghettos that read "IRA-I Ran Away", but the event completely indicated a complete breakdown of Catholic confidence within the state as well as its forces of law and order. Made up of mainly youthful and newer members, internal rebels broke away from the official IRA and established the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Even if the aim of uniting Ireland remained the same for both the Provisional and official wings of the organisation, the Provos, reminiscent of the United Irishmen, called for violence to accomplish republican objectives. The fissure between the Provos and the Officials was an irreversible one over the spirit of the revolution and this resulted into more violence.

Just as Jack explains, there was one last try to stop the suffering, violence as well as the deaths. There would be one more trial at a negotiated peace in 1974 with what was to be named Feakle peace initiative. Feakle was a try by Protestant clergymen to understand the IRA instead of attacking them. On 20th December 1974, representative from provisional leadership reached a non-descript hotel within Feakle to meet with the representatives of the Protestant religious society. A cease-fire was announced and the British government erected several "incident centres" around Ulster as bases for local political and community involvement as well as to monitor the cease-fire. The cease-fire lasted for a while and eventually ended since both sides wanted different things: The IRA demanded an official British declaration of their intention to withdraw from Ireland while the British wanted and got a break from provisional persecution and harassment of the security forces. Due to Sunningdale rejection, the British government had hopes of joining several factions within a new Constitutional Convention. Elections were held but Sunningdale won. . In reality, "...the British could not actually have expected a 'convention' held in the wake of Sunningdale's collapse to do what Sunningdale could not, but it provided at least a political fig-leaf to cover the actual lack of will and desperation, where Ireland was concerned...". The convention was later dissolved because both could not reach an agreement on a satisfactory government system.


In conclusion, I would like to assert that, in the early 1970s, the IRA was able to penetrate British body-armour without any difficulty and hence military casualties were extremely high. The urban 'No-Go' areas of Belfast and Derry were the epicentre of Provo activity and republican radicalism. The rural areas were the adjunct and this offered the republican movement the advantage of embeddedness both physically and psychologically within the 'modernity' of city society. The IRA was backed into the 'terrorist' military ghetto, at growing political cost. Nevertheless, that the republican movement also had positive reasons to take part in the peace process, and certainly has made a significant success of it in numerous ways.


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