With Ireland and the United Kingdom working together as European Union partners and to provide stability so that Northern Ireland continues to enjoy its longest period of comparative peace since 1945, it is easy to forget the problems produced by the troubled relationship between these two islands on the western edge of Europe. Those problems had persisted since the ‘systematic colonization’ of Ireland undertaken under the later Tudor and early Stuart monarchs by means of ‘plantation’ of colonists to provide stability to a land England had occupied in part much earlier.1 Unlike other colonies, however, Ireland became an integral part of the United Kingdom, losing its own Parliament in 1800 after an abortive rebellion in 1798. The territory now comprised by Ireland (initially the Irish Free State) only ceased to be so in 1922 after a War of Independence managed to separate part of the Irish national territory. It was successful where earlier attempts to gain independence by violent means or gain more autonomy by constitutional means (Home Rule) had failed. But that separation did not ‘solve’ the Irish question. The presence in the north-eastern corner of Ireland of a majority of Unionists – some descendants of the ‘planted’ and mainly of Protestant religion – saw the island partitioned with six of the nine counties of Ulster remaining, as now, an integral part of the United Kingdom, but with a sizeable ‘nationalist’ minority, almost exclusively Roman Catholic in religion. Until recently, the Irish Government maintained a constitutional claim to Northern Ireland, and a number of nationalist groups worked within constitutional politics for Irish unity. It also produced violent irredentist nationalism in various manifestations of the paramilitary Irish Republican Army (IRA), illegal in both countries, which waged armed campaigns to try to achieve Irish unity and in times of sectarian crisis to protect the nationalist minority in Northern Ireland. These armed campaigns were resisted by United Kingdom security forces (police and army) and a variety of ‘Loyalist’ paramilitary groups, prepared to use violence to preserve a Protestant hegemony and Northern Ireland’s place as part of the United Kingdom. The IRA and other violent nationalist groups operated invariably as ‘anti-State’ terrorists. For the most part, ‘Loyalist’ paramilitaries acted as ‘pro-State’ terrorists or even as ‘proxy’ terrorists for the State itself.2 But they were not averse to armed resistance to the Crown to

which they were supposedly loyal, or the deployment of industrial action paralysing the Province, if Government action was perceived to threaten the status of Ulster as part of the United Kingdom or involved the Irish Government too much in decision-making on the governance of Northern Ireland.3 The success to date of the Belfast ‘Good Friday’ Agreement of 1998 has seen the Provisional IRA (PIRA), the main nationalist paramilitary group, disarm and its political ‘wing’, Sinn Fein, take part in the government of Northern Ireland, leaving only fringe republican terrorist groups perpetrating a very low level of violence.4 ‘Loyalist’ paramilitaries have similarly withdrawn from political violence. The extent to which both sides engage in other criminality remains in dispute. Despite the electorate in the Province being polarized into sectarian camps represented mainly by Sinn Fein (nationalist) and the Democratic Unionist Party (unionist), May 2007 brought an historic establishment of a power-sharing devolved government with a DUP First Minister and a Sinn Fein Deputy. ‘Emergency’ anti-terrorist legislation (a permanent feature of Northern Ireland since 1922) remains fully to be dismantled. Moreover, while the focus in the United Kingdom’s anti-terrorist legislation has increasingly moved from ‘Irish’ to ‘international’ terrorism since the 1980s, the Terrorism Act 2000 built on earlier measures to deal with the extension (in most of the phases) of the IRA campaign to mainland Great Britain. And its post-9/11 response draws heavily on earlier measures to suppress political violence connected with Irish (and later Northern Irish) affairs since 1798 as well as on measures from the two World Wars examined in chapter 2. One can identify a number of recurrent but not invariable features of that political violence and those suppressive measures. ‘England’s difficulty’, when facing invasion from other States (France in the Revolutionary/Napoleonic wars, the Kaiser’s Germany in the First World War and Nazi Germany in the Second), has often been seen as violent Irish nationalism’s ‘opportunity’. Hence support from the would-be invader formed part of rebellions in 1798,5 in 1916 and again in 1939-45, although the degree of support other than in 1798 was marginal. Financial and material support in terms of arms from the Irish diaspora, particularly in North America, has been a prominent feature from the Fenian dynamite war of the nineteenth century onwards.6 More recently, the IRA received support from Libya.7