Could Republican and Loyalist terrorism be contained, if Sinn Fein pushed for unification?

The suprise success of SF in the Irish General Election (and no one was more surprised than SF, it seems) has raised the possibility of an active political campaign to reunite Ireland. The Loyalists are unlikely to remain passive and this would be a golden opportunity for various Republican groups to seize territory.

My DS question is could UK security forces (PSNI, UK Armed Forces, security and intelligence services) contain a modern campaign?

Clearly, the army no longer has the same manpower to 'occupy' Ulster, but more importantly is a loss of corporate knowledge of urban operations. What could mitigate this is the ability to flood the area with ISR with an intensity unheard of 25 years ago. When mobile phones were the size of a brick and few people had them.

I think it's important to realise that terrorist groups are also likely to change their tactics; they would benefit from studying modern insurgencies and terrorism rather than the gun and bomb of old.

I didn't serve in NI (although visited twice in the early 1990s in support of RAF helicopters) but I fear the loss of institutional expertise. I'd welcome a sensible and open source discussion about this (oh, and for the old and bold, the L1A1 will not make an appearance on the streets, ever). Would there be the political will to do so?
 
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Chalkythedog

Old-Salt
The suprise success of SF in the Irish General Election (and no one was more surprised than SF, it seems) has raised the possibility of an active political campaign to reunite Ireland. The Loyalists are unlikely to remain passive and this would be a golden opportunity for various Republican groups to seize territory.

My DS question is could UK security forces (PSNI, UK Armed Forces, security and intelligence services) contain a modern campaign?

Clearly, the army no longer has the same manpower to 'occupy' Ulster, but more importantly is a loss of corporate knowledge of urban operations. What could mitigate this is the ability to flood the area with ISR with an intensity unheard of 25 years ago. When mobile phones were the size of a brick and few people had them.

I think it's important to realise that terrorist groups are also likely to change their tactics; they would benefit from studying modern insurgencies and terrorism rather than the gun and bomb of old.

I didn't serve in NI (although visited twice in the early 1990s in support of RAF helicopters) but I fear the loss of institutional expertise. I'd welcome a sensible and open source discussion about this (oh, and for the old and bold, the L1A1 will not make an appearance on the streets, ever). Would there be the political will to do so?
I remember Thatcher parroting endlessly, 'the terrorists will never win.' And thinking at the time, 'the terrorists always win.' They always win because because they're in it for the long game, not just the next election. Triste mais vrais.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
The suprise success of SF in the Irish General Election (and no one was more surprised than SF, it seems) has raised the possibility of an active political campaign to reunite Ireland. The Loyalists are unlikely to remain passive and this would be a golden opportunity for various Republican groups to seize territory.

My DS question is could UK security forces (PSNI, UK Armed Forces, security and intelligence services) contain a modern campaign?

Clearly, the army no longer has the same manpower to 'occupy' Ulster, but more importantly is a loss of corporate knowledge of urban operations. What could mitigate this is the ability to flood the area with ISR with an intensity unheard of 25 years ago. When mobile phones were the size of a brick and few people had them.

I think it's important to realise that terrorist groups are also likely to change their tactics; they would benefit from studying modern insurgencies and terrorism rather than the gun and bomb of old.

I didn't serve in NI (although visited twice in the early 1990s in support of RAF helicopters) but I fear the loss of institutional expertise. I'd welcome a sensible and open source discussion about this (oh, and for the old and bold, the L1A1 will not make an appearance on the streets, ever). Would there be the political will to do so?
You have to first deal with the political conceit that the GFA brought an end to terrorist activities.
 

Canuck_Jock

Old-Salt
I found it odd how, during the everlasting Brexit debate, the spectre of Republican terrorism was constantly bandied about should a hard border come about. But, in all the talk of a possible border poll or re-unification, there has been no discussion of a latent Loyalist backlash. Short sighted.



It is not beyond the realm of the possible a referendum may be held, but the last survey polling figures I saw in 2018, a functioning devolved assembly appeared to have the support of a clear majority in NI, Unionist and Nationalist.



There may or may not be great support for it south of the border. Chatting to a friend (from Cork) about this last year he remarked that very often lip service is paid to the issue. However, the thought of a block of the Dáil Éireann (parliament) containing several dozen Unionist or Loyalist members would mightily upset the apple cart. If they became the king makers in the parliament, Sinn Fein would almost certainly never get near to forming a government. Ever. Although financial calculation may not be foremost, the current UK subsidy to NI provides a certain standard of living that the Republic could not match.



Lastly, there could be terrorism, I certainly hope not. Intelligence led ops would be first and foremost the most important line of operation. On the other hand, yes, contemporary terrorism methods could likely be employed. If the aim of Loyalist terror would be to affect any referendum results, where would it target? If the centre of gravity of terror is public opinion, what sort of things on either side of the border would be targeted? It may even be by non-kinetic means. Further down the theoretical timeline, how competent, or otherwise, would the Irish security forces be in dealing with this threat? Would the UN be called in? EU peacekeepers? The counter-factual possibilities are many.



Thinking outside the box, if Sinn Fein are proposing thinking the unthinkable about Irish unity, maybe these words might herald a re-united Ireland:

“I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God…”



The Irish Parliament envisaged in 1914?
 
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My DS question is could UK security forces (PSNI, UK Armed Forces, security and intelligence services) contain a modern campaign?
Lets call it the previous campaign ( Op Banner )

It could have been ended in weeks. There was various reasons that it did not end quickly, both from a Political point of view and a Military point of view.

Politically - The will was not there to stomach what would have been necessary to end it.

Militarily - Why would you get rid of your best live training area ?

Terrorist numbers are very small - It would not take long to end it.

Of course, the alternative is a full on civil war, which would be a different kettle of fish.
 
Loyalists?
What are they going to do?
Beat their Lambeg drums more furiously?
 
Lets give Brexit a chance to kick in, there may well be recalculations going on North and South in the future if we prosper.
 
It could have been ended in weeks.
Bollocks.

You can't solve a political problem with a military solution. Anyone who thinks that it is possible should be taken around the corner and have their Sergeant-Major slap some sense into them, possibly beaten with a history book or three that explain the complexity of the situation.

Consider: the first RUC officer to die was PC Victor Arbuckle, shot by unionist rioters, who were protesting the outcome of a report that suggested the RUC not be routinely armed...
 
If a future SF government has access to the collected knowledge of the Republic’s security services I foresee several sphincters suddenly tightening...
 
Bollocks.

You can't solve a political problem with a military solution. Anyone who thinks that it is possible should be taken around the corner and have their Sergeant-Major slap some sense into them, possibly beaten with a history book or three that explain the complexity of the situation.

Consider: the first RUC officer to die was PC Victor Arbuckle, shot by unionist rioters, who were protesting the outcome of a report that suggested the RUC not be routinely armed...
History has shown that almost all insurgencies end in a political solution, or in fundamental changes to the environment makes one or other sides largely redundant, but require continued pressure from the security forces. Arguably, the Troubles in its early years was a competition in governments. The Catholic/Republican community had been institutionally discriminated for decades and the Unionist government offered them little support. The IRA ended up, at least in some areas, the de facto government.
 

Tuffty

War Hero
My last tour in the province was back in 01, at the time i did wonder if the republicans ever did get into power would the boot be on the other foot so to speak and the Loyalists ramp up their campaign and do unto the provo's that the provo's did unto others. I think it would be a v difficult decision to make by the UK government to send in the Troops to protect the provos after all they did and still do to the British Military and 1000's of innocent civilians. My son is serving in NI at present and tells me that "they" have deff not gone away no matter what people think and no lack of reporting by the BBC ect
 
Bollocks.

You can't solve a political problem with a military solution. Anyone who thinks that it is possible should be taken around the corner and have their Sergeant-Major slap some sense into them, possibly beaten with a history book or three that explain the complexity of the situation.

Consider: the first RUC officer to die was PC Victor Arbuckle, shot by unionist rioters, who were protesting the outcome of a report that suggested the RUC not be routinely armed...
Someone should've told PIRA that before they embarked on their 'armed struggle'.
 

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