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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.

 

See album See album

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.

 

 

Comments  

# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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Travel

Berlin

 

 

 

I'm a bit daunted writing about Berlin.  

Somehow I'm happy to put down a couple of paragraphs about many other cities and towns I've visited but there are some that seem too complicated for a quick 'off the cuff' summary.  Sydney of course, my present home town, and past home towns like New York and London.  I know just too much about them for a glib first impression.

Although I've never lived there I've visited Berlin on several occasions for periods of up to a couple of weeks.  I also have family there and have been introduced to their circle of friends.

So I decided that I can't really sum Berlin up, any more that I can sum up London or New York, so instead I should pick some aspects of uniqueness to highlight. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Love in the time of Coronavirus

 

 

 

 

Gabriel García Márquez's novel Love in the Time of Cholera lies abandoned on my bookshelf.  I lost patience with his mysticism - or maybe it was One Hundred Years of Solitude that drove me bananas?  Yet like Albert Camus' The Plague it's a title that seems fit for the times.  In some ways writing anything just now feels like a similar undertaking.

My next travel diary on this website was to have been about the wonders of Cruising - expanding on my photo diary of our recent trip to Papua New Guinea.

 


Cruising to PNG - click on the image to see more

 

Somehow that project now seems a little like advocating passing time with that entertaining game: Russian Roulette. A trip on Corona Cruise Lines perhaps?

In the meantime I've been drawn into several Facebook discussions about the 1918-20 Spanish Influenza pandemic.

After a little consideration I've concluded that it's a bad time to be a National or State leader as they will soon be forced to make the unenviable choice between the Scylla and Charybdis that I end this essay with.

On a brighter note, I've discovered that the economy can be expected to bounce back invigorated. We have all heard of the Roaring Twenties

So the cruise industry, can take heart, because the most remarkable thing about Spanish Influenza pandemic was just how quickly people got over it after it passed.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Science, Magic and Religion

 

(UCLA History 2D Lectures 1 & 2)

 

Professor Courtenay Raia lectures on science and religion as historical phenomena that have evolved over time; starting in pre-history. She goes on to examine the pre-1700 mind-set when science encompassed elements of magic; how Western cosmologies became 'disenchanted'; and how magical traditions have been transformed into modern mysticisms.

The lectures raise a lot of interesting issues.  For example in Lecture 1, dealing with pre-history, it is convincingly argued that 'The Secret', promoted by Oprah, is not a secret at all, but is the natural primitive human belief position: that it is fundamentally an appeal to magic; the primitive 'default' position. 

But magic is suppressed by both religion and science.  So in our modern secular culture traditional magic has itself been transmogrified, magically transformed, into mysticism.

Read more ...

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