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No SolutionThe Labour Government and the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1974-79$
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S.C. Aveyard

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096402

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096402.001.0001

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The evolution of the long war

The evolution of the long war

(p.220) 10 The evolution of the long war
No Solution

S.C. Aveyard

Manchester University Press

After the ceasefire the Provisional IRA was in disarray and it struggled because of increased attrition by British security forces. In response, just as the Labour government adapted to the long haul ahead by formulating the policies of police primacy and criminalisation, republicans fashioned a ‘long war’ strategy which formed the basis of their armed struggle for the rest of the conflict. Sections of the Northern Ireland Office began to appreciate that the conflict would persist over a number of years because of the PIRA’s ability to adapt to the new conditions. Pressures from the British army to revert to a more aggressive stance persisted and there was growing evidence that senior officers were only paying lip service to the Labour government’s strategy. There were also a number of controversies over SAS operations, the growing protest in the prisons and interrogation techniques used by the RUC. Each of these illustrates the limitations on attempts to drive a wedge between the Provisional IRA and the nationalist community.

Keywords:   Provisional IRA, British army, Royal Ulster Constabulary, Long war, Criminalisation, Prison protests, Interrogation

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