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The Troubles

'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland began in the 1960's with civil rights marches in favour of 'one man one vote' and arguments over slum clearance and occupancy in Londonderry (now just 'Derry').  These brawls escalated as loyalist Protestant groups opposed the Catholic protesters. In August 1969 sectarian contests developed into open warfare in the Bogside area and English troops were moved in to restore order.  As yet inexperienced and poorly trained they fired on and killed protestors.

In 1973 both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community.  This provided the customs and freedom of movement conditions necessary for the effective removal of borders between the two countries, facilitating the free movement goods, services and workers.  The island of Ireland would soon be a single commonwealth - like states or provinces in Australia, Canada or the USA.  I remind readers again that Ireland is a country not much bigger than Tasmania with a population not much bigger than Sydney.

Yet those who thought a single commonwealth was the issue were to be disappointed. The provisional IRA did not accept this economic unity as sufficient. Instead it stepped-up its bombing campaign, taking it to London and Britain in general. When I lived in New York in the late 70's, in the Irish Pubs, IRA supporters were like the Salvation Army, with boxes on a stick soliciting donations. Except, instead of supporting the US homeless down the street, these donations went to Heckler & Koch or DuPont, to buy arms and explosives.

Then in August 1979 the IRA murdered the Queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten, when they blew up his fishing boat, killing him and three others, including his 14 year old grandson. The same day they murdered a number of British peacekeepers. Mountbatten had been the Viceroy who mismanaged the Partition of India and thus, by incompetence, a man with millions of deaths on his hands, yet to Britain murdering an inner member of the royal family was an outrageously provocative escalation.  After that 'The Troubles' went into overdrive and became a full-on war in Northern Ireland, involving British troops in both public and covert operations against the IRA.  Both sides rose to the challenge.

'The Troubles' would continue for two more decades, by which time thousands more had died and the survivors among the leaders were getting old and tired.  At last they agreed to talk, then to lay down their arms, as a condition of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.


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The Troubles ended in 1998 - or did they
Belfast Town Hall has a 'Reflection Space' white walls covered in text of different sizes,
in which people representing both sides in the Troubles and the victims of 'collateral damage' are quoted. It makes one weep.




# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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More Silk Road Adventures - The Caucasus




Having, in several trips, followed the Silk Road from Xian and Urumqi in China across Tajikistan and Uzbekistan our next visit had to be to the Caucuses.  So in May 2019 we purchased an organised tour to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia from ExPat Explore.  If this is all that interests you you might want to skip straight to Azerbaijan. Click here...

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Outcomes for girls and boys



A Radio National discussion (May 29 2015) stated that statistically girls outperform boys academically and referenced research suggesting that this has something to do with working parents:

Provocative new research suggests that the outcomes for girls and boys can be different when parents go back to work, in particular mothers.

The big question is WHY?


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Opinions and Philosophy

Bertrand Russell




Bertrand Russell (Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970)) has been a major influence on my life.  I asked for and was given a copy of his collected Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell for my 21st birthday and although I never agreed entirely with every one of his opinions I have always respected them.

In 1950 Russell won the Nobel Prize in literature but remained a controversial figure.  He was responsible for the Russell–Einstein Manifesto in 1955. The signatories included Albert Einstein, just before his death, and ten other eminent intellectuals and scientists. They warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons and called on governments to find alternative ways of resolving conflict.   Russell went on to become the first president of the campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) and subsequently organised opposition to the Vietnam War. He could be seen in 50's news-reels at the head of CND demonstrations with his long divorced second wife Dora, for which he was jailed again at the age of 89.  

In 1958 Gerald Holtom, created a logo for the movement by stylising, superimposing and circling the semaphore letters ND.

Some four years earlier I'd gained my semaphore badge in the Cubs, so like many children of my vintage, I already knew that:  = N(uclear)   = D(isarmament)

The logo soon became ubiquitous, graphitied onto walls and pavements, and widely used as a peace symbol in the 60s and 70s, particularly in hippie communes and crudely painted on VW camper-vans.


 (otherwise known as the phallic Mercedes).


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