Sunday, October 8, 2023

No More Troubles


  • The violence seemed like it would never end; bombings, shootings, and kidnappings became so commonplace that they were almost expected, a grim part of the daily news cycle.
  • Even simple tasks, like going to the shop or sending the kids to school, were fraught with uncertainty.
  • The politicians seemed unable or unwilling to bring about meaningful change, trapped in their own ideologies and the weight of history, if not poorly incentivized.


This was Northern Ireland during the three decades of the Troubles, itself preceded by 300 years of conflict between Ireland and Britain.  During the Troubles, about 1/500 (cumulative) residents of Northern Ireland were killed by shootings, bombings, civil unrest, and the like.


I have been reading Leon Uris’ Ireland: A Terrible Beauty published in 1978.  Although Uris is known for his fiction, this is a non-fiction travel book.  It has lots of bitterness and anger and would not be easy for a British reader to stomach.  It is difficult to understand from today’s perspective.


A peace agreement was reached that has lasted 25 years now, even through Brexit.  Today “No more troubles” is a slight exaggeration, but there has been a reduction of almost two orders of magnitude according to the Global Terrorism Database.

Something worked well in Northern Ireland.  U.S. President Clinton and U.S. Senator Mitchell get a lot of credit for brokering the 1998 Good Friday agreement.  Interestingly, nobody seems to remember exactly which part of Ireland Mitchell’s father was from; perhaps that ambiguity helped the negotiations.

Note: per GTD coding, Israel (country code 97) does not include the West Bank or Gaza.

Image Credit: Generated with AI (Bing Image Creator) ∙ October 8, 2023 at 6:48 AM