A Call to the Unionists

Garret FitzGerald responds to Tom Wilson’s review of his memoirs in the last issue

Tom Wilson’s insight as a moderate Unionist into the Northern Ireland tragedy and his critique of my involvement with these events offers useful balance to my – inevitably – somewhat different position on these matters. There are, however, some points in his review upon which I should like to comment. First, as to Sunningdale. Professor Wilson says that I do not discuss what he describes as an ‘intensification’ of the IRA’s campaign arising from that Agreement. I made no mention of this because it did not happen. The number of killings in Northern Ireland declined from 467 in 1972 to 250 in 1973 – the year of the negotiation and signature of the Agreement – and fell to 216 in the following year. The total number of shooting incidents and explosions also declined during these years in broadly similar proportions. And in each six-month period from mid-1973 to mid-1975 the number of killings remained around the one hundred level – lower than in any other half-year during the 1972-6 quinquennium. Moreover the drop in IRA killings between 1973 and 1974 was significantly greater than the decline in the total number of deaths by violence, and this reduction in IRA violence persisted into 1975, when killings by other groups rose quite sharply.

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