Update 11/9/2006: There used to be some other writeups in this node.

You could describe the French Resistance as terrorists, you could describe them as freedom fighters, or you could describe them as guerrillas. These terms are more or less synonymous, only separated by a value judgment.

In the 1920s, the original IRA (see my writeup for historical background) fought a guerrilla war against the British, and won independence for Ireland. Its leader Michael Collins has since been termed the inventor of modern terrorism. Most Irish people would look on Collins as a hero while abhorring the IRA's current incarnation.

What distinguishes the current incarnations of the IRA from the French Resistance and the "Old IRA" are the following:

I wouldn't, like Thomas Miconi, make a distinction purely on the basis of tactics. The Provisional IRA's actions are certainly a lot more abhorrent than those of the French Resistance, for example, but they are not unique to terrorist organisations.

<tuppence worth>

One of the big problems with the IRA has always been that idiot Americans who have absolutely no idea what's going on have blindly donated money to organisations like Noraid which have helped to keep a futile conflict simmering over. Just to clarify some things for those who weren't paying attention:

1. The Provisional IRA are not the IRA. The IRA were freedom fighters, struggling against a brutal English rule. They more or less disbanded after the formation of the Irish Free State. The Provisional IRA were formed in the late 60's, originally to fight Catholic oppression (the North was close to a state of apartheid then). It continued when it was realised that money could be made from it - if you want to run protection, drugs and pornography rackets, what better way than with your own private army? (For a more detailed history of the 'ra, see ryano's writeup at IRA)

2. Northern Ireland is under British rule because it wants to be. If their was an open referendum on the subject tomorrow, it would choose to remain under British rule. The majority of the electorate consider themselves British. To ask them to be anything else would be tyranny.

3. British troops are in Northern Ireland to keep the peace, not to enforce British rule. In practice they side with the Loyalists, but officially their mandate is a peace-keeping one. They entered the country when The Troubles began. They left when the Good Friday agreement was signed (or at least attempted to fade into the background)

4. The Republic of Ireland doesn't want Northern Ireland back. In a referendum three years ago, an overwhelming 96% voted to waive our constitutional claim to the North. Similarly, Britain doesn't want the North either. Mainland bombings? Army officers dying? Billions of pounds being spent on the infrastructure? Who the hell wants that? The North is the hottest of potatoes.

5. The entire situation in the North is a harrowing mix of tragedy and farce. The people there barely understand it. Please don't comment on it unless you've researched it properly

6. Your parentage is unimportant. If you don't know all the words of 'Fairytale Of New York' or you don't remember Ray Houghton scoring against Italy, you're not Irish. Sorry.

</tuppence worth>

Zach : Nope, blowing stuff up without attempting political discourse makes them terrorists.
b_o_leary is Irish to the point of inbreeding. He lives 100 miles from Belfast, but still feels too distant from the conflict to really comment on it

He also promises to never use the phrase "idiot americans" again

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