The death toll of British soldiers killed during nearly three years of terror and violence in Northern Ireland crept to 100 this week as the province moved cautiously towards peace following a cease fire announcement by Provisional leaders of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for midnight, on Monday, June 26.
GV Troops with shields stoned by crowd, crowd dispersed as troops fire tear gas & rubber bullets (7 shouts)
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Background: The death toll of British soldiers killed during nearly three years of terror and violence in Northern Ireland crept to 100 this week as the province moved cautiously towards peace following a cease fire announcement by Provisional leaders of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for midnight, on Monday, June 26.
In those years, more than 300 people have died. Many were women and children killed by bombs, snipers or cross fire, Others were soldiers ... sometimes murdered when they were off-duty, or, like Major Bernard Carradine, a bomb disposal expert, blown up as they tried to defuse IRA bombs.
Life for the British troops has not been easy. Their numbers increased with the violence from about 7,000 in 1969 to some 15,000 at the end of 1971. Often they have been confined to barracks because of the danger. And they almost never go out alone.
Towns like Belfast and Londonderry bristle with guns, armoured cars and sandbagged army posts. For during 1971 alone, there were some 1,00 bomb outrages and more than 1,700 terrorist shooting incidents.
There have been moments of bravery -- as with the soldier who was fatally injured as the tried to shield a civilian family from a bomb explosion at Belfast police station. But there have been times of criticism, too.
In November, 1971, allegation of brutality and cruelty were rejected by the Compton Committee report. But the committed did find that action taken by the troops to force men under interrogation to talk, constituted physical ill-treatment.
Whatever the arguments for and against the pressure of British troops in Northern Ireland, a government White Paper in December 1971, made clear that they would remain there "for as along, and in such strength, as they are needed."
For those who died, the cease fire came too late. It's by no means certain that a lasting peace can emerge from it, since hard-line Protestants have warned that they will accept no agreement between Britain and the I.R.A.
So far, the cease fire announcement has given rise to some optimism. Within house of the deal becoming known, the British administrator for Northern Ireland, Mr William Whitelaw, promised that the British troops would also lay down their arms.