Northern Ireland’s Bloody History: A New Frontier and Old Hostilities

Whether milk, wool or machine parts, none of them should come from the north anymore. The border was closed, and those who did not stick to it suffered sanctions, which often consisted of brutal acts of violence. If you want to understand the fear that the new EU external border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is causing on the Irish island today, you have to take a look at the circumstances under which this border was drawn 100 years ago. The “Government of Ireland Act” separated the south from the north of the island for the first time in May 1921. An independent republic was to emerge in the south, while the north remained part of Great Britain.

The IRA acts of violence

From the beginning, radical forces did not want to accept this division. The IRA, the Catholic terrorist group that half a century later was to terrorize the whole of Great Britain, implemented the so-called “Belfast Boycott” with its fighters and thugs. Deliveries of goods that came from separated Northern Ireland were confiscated and destroyed, and traders doing business with the north were threatened or even murdered. The Protestants and thus pro-British fellow citizens were declared mortal enemies.

Smuggling routes

A few months later the Civil War was over, Ireland a Free State and the border with Northern Ireland drawn. When the civil war in the British provinces escalated in the late 1960s, the border was also the scene again. The IRA’s supply routes for weapons and explosives ran over it. The British Army tried to cut the smuggling routes, bases near the border were set up – and were soon the preferred target of IRA attacks.


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