Abstract of Important Events - Internment
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This is one of a number of files which provide a very brief abstract of important events during the Northern Ireland conflict. Some of the events are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere (check, for example, Key Events and the corresponding entry in the chronology).
"While internment in itself provided limited, if any, security benefits the social and political reaction which internment created far outweighed this. As a result violence increase for the rest of the year and the SDLP, the only major Catholic political party in Northern Ireland, refused to become involved in political talks while internment continued. It is clear, however, that the main winners from the introduction of internment were the Provisional IRA, ..."
The Unionist controlled Stormont
Government convinced the British Government of the need, and the
advantages, of introducing internment as a means of countering
rising levels of paramilitary violence. The policy proved however
to be a disastrous mistake. The measure was only used against
the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Catholic community. Although
Loyalist paramilitaries had been responsible for some of the violence
no Protestants were arrested (the first Protestant internees were
detained on 2 February 1973). The crucial intelligence on which
the success of the operation depended was flawed and many of those
arrested had to be subsequently released because they were not
involved in any paramilitary activity.
In response to internment the Northern
Ireland Civil Rights Association began a campaign of civil disobedience
which culminated in a 'rent and rates strike' by those in public
sector houses. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
was forced to end co-operation with the Northern Ireland government.
In addition many commentators are of the opinion that internment
resulted in increased support, active and tacit, among the Catholic
community for the IRA. The level of civil unrest and the level
of IRA violence surged.
While unionists would have initially
welcomed the stronger security measures represented by internment
they would perhaps have been less enthusiastic for the policy
if they had foreseen the consequences for the Northern Ireland
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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