Monday, July 09, 2007

Who killed who in the NI "Troubles"?

In the run-up to the election, I heard someone on radio extolling the virtues of a forum called so I started to engage there. However,the forum has a large number of contributors there who are unreconstructed republicans who don’t accept the Good Friday agreement and hijack almost any topic thread to vent their rabid anti-Brit feelings. These are dressed up as being anti-war, anti-imperialism etc., but you don’t have to scratch hard to find the Northern Ireland gorilla perched firmly on their backs.

Many of the anti-Brit contributors on routinely present the British as the army from hell, marching through civilian settlements, killing, raping, burning, looting etc.. We’re left with the impression that this is what happened in Northern Ireland during the “troubles”.

Am I alone in having difficulty reconciling this picture with some of the actual facts which emerge from that conflict? (without in any way seeking to excuse the British army for Bloody Sunday or other atrocities).

During the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, the British army presence peaked at 30k+ in the 1970’s, supplemented by c. 20k combined RUC & UDR. That’s a total of about 50k armed personnel on the government side of the conflict. In addition, the British army were equipped with armoured vehicles, helicopters and had ready access to a vast array of weaponry of all types.

Facing this large and well-armed force, republican paramilitaries had a much more limited arsenal of weaponry and their active service volunteers never numbered more than a small fraction of their “crown forces” adversaries.

So, logically, the ruthless, jack-booted British killing machine should have been responsible for the vast majority of deaths in the troubles. And that this number killed by the crown forces should greatly outnumber their own casualties.

Yet the tables below, from the CAIN website, , which analyses all troubles-related deaths from 1969 to 2001, shows that Republicans were actually responsible for the majority (58%) of such deaths.
In fact, British Security Force deaths outnumbered Republican deaths by a ratio of almost 3 to 1!

Even allowing that some portion of the Loyalist killings were proxy killings on behalf of British Forces, the Republicans still win the killing race hands down.
One conclusion that can clearly be drawn from these statistics is that republicans were far more ruthless killers than their British opponents.

The data below includes deaths caused by military vehicles and heart attacks caused by explosions etc.. 1581 (45%) deaths occurred in the 5-year period 1972-1976. It also covers all relevant jurisdictions , in NI (3268), Britain (125), RoI (113) & Europe (18),

Killed by
Republican Paramilitary = 2056 (58%)
Loyalist Paramilitary =1020 (29%)
British Security Forces*= 362 (10%)
Irish Security Forces = 5 (0.1%)
Not known = 81 (2%)
TOTAL = 3524

Victim Status
Civilian = 1857 (53%)
British Security =1112 (32%)
Republican Paramilitary = 394 (11%)
Loyalist Paramilitary = 151 (4%)
Irish Security = 10 (0.3%)
Total = 3524

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