This is an article from The Atlantic in 2006 but I thought it a great read on the History of the IRA from the British perspective.-SF
I first met the man now called Kevin Fulton in London, on Platform 13 at Victoria Station. We almost missed each other in the crowd; he didn’t look at all like a terrorist.
He stood with his feet together, a short and round man with a kind face, fair hair, and blue eyes. He might have been an Irish grammar-school teacher, not an IRA bomber or a British spy in hiding. Both of which he was.Fulton had agreed to meet only after an exchange of messages through an intermediary. Now, as we talked on the platform, he paced back and forth, scanning the faces of passersby. He checked the time, then checked it again. He spoke in an almost impenetrable brogue, and each time I leaned in to understand him, he leaned back, suspicious. He fidgeted with several mobile phones, one devoted to each of his lives. “I’m just cautious,” he said.
He lives in London now, but his wife remains in Northern Ireland. He rarely goes out, for fear of bumping into the wrong person, and so leads a life of utter isolation, a forty-five-year-old man with a lot on his mind.During the next few months, Fulton and I met several times on Platform 13. Over time his jitters settled, his speech loosened, and his past tumbled out: his rise and fall in the Irish Republican Army, his deeds and misdeeds, his loyalties and betrayals. He had served as a covert foot soldier in what has come to be called the Dirty War: a cutthroat and secret British effort to infiltrate and undermine the IRA, carried out in the shadows of the infamous Troubles. “It was a lot grayer and darker,” Fulton said of the clandestine war. “Darker even than people can imagine.”But there’s this: it worked. British spies subverted the IRA from within, leaving it in military ruin, and Irish Republicans—who want to end British rule in Northern Ireland and reunite the island—have largely shifted their weight to Sinn Féin and its peaceable, political efforts. And so the Dirty War provides a model for how to dismantle a terrorist organization. The trick is to not mind killing, and to expect dying.This came clear to Kevin Fulton on the day his cover as an IRA man collapsed. It happened inside an IRA safe house in north Belfast, in 1994. Fulton sat facing a wall, blindfolded. Curtains shut out the pale light of winter. Bottles lay scattered on the floor, and the place stank of stale beer. An interrogator paced the room, his boots scuffing against the floor. He said, “I know what yer done, boyo.”
He pressed a thick index finger against Fulton’s temple, hard, then leaned in close to Fulton’s ear and murmured a series of threats: The IRA hunts down all snitches and executes them. Two quick bullets in the brain. Remember the boy from County Armagh who left behind the pregnant wife. Remember the boy from County Louth who left seven children mewling for a father. Remember them all.
Read the Remainder at The Atlantic
For Further Reading on the IRA Check out the Conflicts Archive on the Internet, CAIN.
A Belfast man on patrol for the Irish Republican Army, 1987. Pacemaker Press International/Belfast Telegraph Archive
From 1968 to 1998, Northern Ireland was the battleground of a guerrilla war known as The Troubles. On one side was the Protestant majority called the Unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom. On the other side were the Nationalists, a Catholic minority who sought to become part of the Republic of Ireland.
For 30 years, Northern Island ripped itself apart trying to decide whether to merge with Ireland or stay subject to the British crown. Over the course of the conflict, approximately 3,600 people died, with thousands more injured.
A British soldier drags a Catholic protester during the “Bloody Sunday” killings. THOPSON/AFP/Getty Images
In one of the conflict’s most infamous massacres, Bloody Sunday, British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians taking part in a civil rights march protesting the internment without trial of any person suspected of being involved in with the Nationalist Irish Republican Army (IRA). Thirteen died on the spot.
The IRA’s main goal was to unify Ireland under Irish rule, but it was often considered a terrorist group because of its repeated bombings of mainland Britain.
The deadliest attack of The Troubles, however — deadlier than any of those mainland bombings or even Bloody Sunday — occurred on May 17, 1974.
Read the Remainder at All That Is Interesting