Ireland was Britain's oldest colony and, for hundreds of years, ideas of Irish Nationalism simmered under the surface of the Empire's calm. After the Easter Rising and the establishment of Home Rule for the Republic of Eire, discontent continued in the northern provinces, where the Catholics were in a minority and discriminated against both politically and in ordinary life. In the mid-1960s, discontent erupted into violence and the Irish Republican Army began a terror campaign which finally resulted in the British Army being called out onto the streets of Belfast. The 'Troubles', as they became known, gave rise to a savage form of urban warfare, typified by indiscriminate car bombings, tit-for-tat sectarian shootings and spectacular bomb outrages on the British mainland.
In the dead of night on 12 October 1984, a massive bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel, Brighton, where Britain's ruling Conservative Party was holding their annual conference. The bomb killed five people and injured many more, but the IRA had missed their main target, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In their determination to get the British out of Northern Ireland and unite with the Republic in the South, the IRA waged a war of terror which cost more than 3,000 lives before a peace settlement was finally achieved, brought about by equally extreme measures and a tortuous political process which eventually saw the IRA decommissioning its weapons and its political wing, Sinn Fein, sharing power with its sworn enemy, the Unionists.
This BBC documentary looks at the current affairs and politics behind The IRA as part of a series exploring International Terrorism since 1945.
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