British Army Launches Base Cutbacks

British Army Launches Base Cutbacks (AP)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland – The British army began closing or demolishing military installations in the Irish Republican Army’s rural heartland Friday in a rapid response to the IRA’s declaration to renounce violence and disarm.

Soldiers started to dismantle or withdraw from three positions in South Armagh, a rebellious borderland nicknamed “bandit country,” where soldiers still travel by helicopter because of the risk of IRA dissidents’ roadside bombs.

The move came a day after IRA commanders promised to disarm fully, and directed to their units to dump their weapons and use “exclusively peaceful means” from now on.

This is exactly what is needed in this situation. The IRA moved first, as it should have, and for the British Army to do this is an incredible act of goodwill and trust.

Not everyone agrees:

… Protestant politicians condemned the British authorities’ rapid reward for the IRA words, noting that the police still aren’t able to operate without military backup in South Armagh.

“It’s criminally irresponsible of the government to do this, given what has gone on in those border areas,” said Arlene Foster, a negotiator for the Democratic Unionist Party, which represents most of the province’s British Protestant majority. “The government seems quite happy to act on words alone.”

But words have meaning, and the politically-savvy IRA must know that their day is over. Plus, they have always shown a certain “honor among thieves.” For the DUP to play the cynic here doesn’t help, but little more can be expected from a party led by the man who thought it appropriate to heckle the Pope when he addressed the European Parliament.

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Leopold Stotch
About Leopold Stotch
“Dr. Leopold Stotch” was the pseudonym of political science professor then at a major research university inside the beltway. He has a PhD in International Relations. He contributed 165 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and February 2006.