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Why internment failed

Dean Godson claims that historical ignorance has undermined British policies in Northern Ireland over the last half-century. But a more convincing answer can be found in the history of the IRA itself.

By Sean Swan   January 2008

In Prospect’s November issue, Dean Godson claimed that he has “yet to meet a single politician, mandarin, policeman, soldier or spook who has examined in any depth why internment failed once on the island of Ireland in the 20th century, in 1971” having succeeded in the 1956-62 IRA campaign. This is perhaps because the answer lies in the realm not of security but of politics. The IRA’s 1956 to 1962 campaign (“Operation Harvest”) was an exotic import into Northern Ireland originating from a small group of idealists in the south. The extent to which it was a southern venture is…

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