North American and British coverage of Northern Ireland is usually premised on the assumption that the Provisional Irish Republican Army is responsible for “the Troubles,” “the violence,” “sectarianism,” whatever. Such coverage also advances British foreign policy by considering the conflict there to be between two ‘native tribes who never get along.’ Finally, it presumes that the PIRA and the political party Sinn Fein are “wings” of the same organization, and that they maintain a single, common command structure.
However, in the last decade, more blood has been shed by Protestant terrorists than Catholic. The Ulster Defense Association, Ulster Freedom Fighters, Ulster Volunteer Force, Loyalist Volunteer Force, Red Hand Commandos, etc., kill and maim Catholics and fellow Protestants who don’t go along with their agendas. In addition, alleged Protestant residents in Belfast terrorized little pre-teen Catholic girls trying to walk to school for months recently, while the supposedly-impartial British Police and government watched and did nothing, before the eyes of the whole world.
In fact, such Protestant provocation is at the root of the current conflict in Northern Ireland, begun in the 1950s and ’60s by Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley, MLA, MP, MEP, the region’s fundamentalist Protestant political-religious leader. But instead the newsmedia focus on Catholic reaction to this!
Catholics/nationalists/republicans simply want OUT of the (so-called) United Kingdom, because they’ve had enough of this. They blame the British government and its colonial policy toward Ireland these last 9 centuries. They actually have less problem with their Protestant-settler neighbors than they do with the British government, British army, British police, British crown, British courts, British prisons, British law, British anti-Irish racism, and British media. They see it not as a conflict with Protestants, but as a conflict with BRITAIN!
Finally, the IRA and Sinn Fein are two of many organizations in Northern Ireland’s “republican” (ie, Catholic, democratic, pro-Irish) community. In America a man might belong to the Rotary AND the Chamber of Commerce AND the United Way board, but that doesn’t mean these 3 are in effect one organization. However, it is known that Protestant terrorists and politicians DO work organizationally hand-in-glove…with the tacit blessing of London and Washington.