Containing the Provisional Irish Republican Army:

  • 2012

Containing the Provisional Irish Republican Army:

Operation Banner and the British Army in Northern Ireland 1970-1981
Albert Thompson

In 1969, the Provisional Irish Republican Army was a faction past its prime. After violence erupted in Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA needed to become a credible force and Sinn Fein needed to become a respectable political movement. Northern Ireland’s activist leaders in the Catholic population decided to emulate the US Civil Rights movement and pursue equality rather than separatism.

By 1974, the Provisional IRA failed to achieve a breakthrough against British forces through insurgency. Accordingly, the Provision IRA leadership decided to embark on an alternative campaign of terrorism to achieve a favorable political settlement.

The mission of the British military was containment of the Provisional IRA and its terror campaign. This paper addresses the means with which the British attempted to contain both factions and how the Provisional IRA’s survival allowed the 1981 hunger strikes to achieve international attention for their movement and permanent mainstream status for Sinn Fein.