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Assess the impact of the period from 1969-1982 on the IRA/Sinn Fein and their development into a significant political force in Northern Ireland

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Introduction

Preliminary Modern History Assessment Task 4 Historical Investigation "Assess the impact of the period from 1969 - 1982 on the IRA/Sinn Fein and their development into a significant political force in Northern Ireland" "Assess the impact of the period from 1969 - 1982 on the IRA/Sinn Fein and their development into a significant political force in Northern Ireland" During the period from 1969-1982 both the IRA and Sinn Fein underwent significant change. Sinn Fein moved from a fringe role, in the nationalist movement of Northern Ireland, to a dominant political position. During a time of intense violence in the region an internal discussion was taking place, deliberating on the value of armed resistance versus political engagement. The ideals that rose out of this transformed the movement and laid the basis for the central role it would play in the eventual Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The re-emergence of the nationalist movement led to the rise and resurrection of groups such as the IRA. Naturally this caused much tension, and incidences of violence began to rise. Acts of exceptional protest showed the incomparable power of politics over violence and led to international recognition of the issue. Ultimately Sinn Fein developed into one of the most powerful political forces in Northern Ireland. After years in the dark the nationalist movement began to rapidly gain momentum when the Belfast Troubles began in 1969. The IRA had been deeply divided since 1921 when Dail Eireann chose to ratify the Anglo- Irish treaty. The treaty established the autonomous Irish Free State whilst the province of Ulster remained under the direct control of the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that IRA member Michael Collins had played a role in writing the treaty there was still a major difference of opinion between members of the IRA.1 They were divided between those who were for the establishment of the Free State and those who believed it was illegitimate and illegal. ...read more.

Middle

After a build up of tensions and a series of sectarian killings the ceasefire broke down in January 1976.16 It was clear that the original aims of the IRA leadership for a quick military victory were receding. It was acts of violence by British authorities that justified the military side of the movement and ensured tensions would continue for years to come. As Sinn Fein began to move into the political process so did many former revolutionaries and IRA members. One such person was Gerry Adams; after being in prison for alleged IRA membership17 he turned himself in a new direction a moved towards the political process. In 1978 he was elected as the vice president of Sinn Fein. This most likely came as a result of the realisation by many senior figures that it was becoming more and more unlikely that a military victory could be achieved. Whilst significant events such as Bloody Sunday lead to anti-British sentiment to sky rocket many turned away from violence and embraced the political system. Protests by a number of imprisoned IRA members in Long Kesh gaol showed the power of political tactics, leading to the dominance of Sinn Fein as a political force. The 1981 hunger strike was the climax of a five year protest by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The protest originally began in 197618 when the British Government removed its special category status for convicted paramilitary prisoners. This status had provided them with Prisoner of War privileges as specified in the Geneva Convention.19 Prisoners did not have to wear prison uniforms, do prison work and were allowed to be housed within their own paramilitary factions. They were also entitled to receive extra food parcels and have extra visits. When these rights were removed by the British Government, as recommended by the Gardiner Committee20, the prisoners began a protest to gain them back. It started with a blanket protest in which prisoners refused to wear uniforms but instead wrapped themselves in prison blankets; they stated that they were not criminals but political prisoners. ...read more.

Conclusion

7 Mullan, Don, Eyewitness Bloody Sunday - The Truth, Wolfhound Press 8 Geraghty, Tony, The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence, unknown p. 65 9 Mullan, Don, Eyewitness Bloody Sunday - The Truth 10 Moloney, Ed, A Secret History of the IRA. p. 432 11 University College Cork, Multitext project in Irish History - Movements for Political and Social Reform, 1870 - 1914, 2009, < http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/Ireland_politics__administration_1870-1914#12TheFirstSinnFeacuteinParty> (25 July 2009) 12 Prime Ministers Office, Briefing from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman on: Anti Terror Law, President Bush/EU, Foreign Doctors in NHS, Hunting and Northern Ireland, 21 February 2005, < http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page7148> 13 BBC, On this day - 9 Decmeber1973, 2009, < http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/december/9/newsid_2536000/2536767.stm> (26 July 2009) 14 Moloney, Ed, A Secret History of the IRA 15 Moloney, Ed, A Secret History of the IRA 16 English, Richard, Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA, p. 136 17 Moloney, Ed, A Secret History of the IRA p. 140. 18 McClean, Raymond, The Road to Bloody Sunday - Extracts 19 McEvoy, Kieran, Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern Ireland: Resistance, Management, and Release, Oxford University Press 20 Lord Gardiner, Report of a Committee to consider, in the context of civil liberties and human rights, measures to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland - Extract, 1975, < http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/hmso/gardiner.htm#1> (July 28 2009) 21 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict, 2009, < http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch76.htm> (27 July 2009) 22 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 23 English, Richard, Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA p. 196 24 Moloney, Ed, A Secret History of the IRA p. 211 25 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 26 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 27 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 28 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 29 CAIN Web Service, A chronology of the conflict 30 BBC, Profile: Martin McGuinness, 2009, < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/1303355.stm> (29 July 2009) 31 Sinn Fein Online, History made - Sinn Fein is now the largest party in the six counties, 2009, < http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/16580> (29 July 2009) ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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