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30-03-2019, 03:15   #16
BalcombeSt4
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Originally Posted by pedroeibar1 View Post
The WoI and later CW were fought using smallarms because only that type was available, mainly through capture (RIC Lee Enfields) or robbery (shotguns & stalking rifles). Most of the small volume imports came by courier from Glasgow, etc. Even then ammunition supply was an issue, both in quantity, quality and because of mixed calibre. ‘Republican’ imports matter little, in 1913/14 they imported about 1500 rifles and 30k rounds of ammunition, all obsolete Mausers from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1. FWIW in the same era the ‘Loyalists’ imported about 40,000 rifles and 3 million rounds.
Most of the ‘Republicans’ had no idea of firearms beyond a cursory knowledge of shotguns; very few would have been able to strip, clean and reassemble the action of a rifle or pistol.
Anyone with even a superficial knowledge of the BMH statements would realise that drawing comparisons between that era and post-1970 events in NI is stupid and worthless. It also shows a complete lack of understanding of the very obvious differences in the arms procurement and training processes available in the two periods. Also, the Old IRA people I knew had zero tolerance for the Provo's etc and their antics in NI.
Well the Old IRA people you knew were hypocrites. The Old IRA killed off-duty police & soldiers in front of family members, they bombed people, 6 civilians died the day truce came into effect from a landmine, Protestants were chased out of the South, Dunmanway etc... there was a lot of good, decent, open minded people in the Old IRA who were fighting for Democratic values, but there was also a share of bigoted sectarians.

These are just the sad facts of war, every war, even the Franco-Prussian war you mention, civilians are killed by both sides. I can't think of a war/conflict in the 20th & 21st century which at least 500 people died that both sides didn't kill civilians in. Spanish civil war, Russian civil war, WW1 & 2, all the Latin American conflicts, The Irish civil War, the Syrian civil war, The Troubles, the Basque conflict, the Lebanon civil war, the Israel - Palestine wars, Aden, Suez, Malaya crisis and I could be here all day, but you get the point each side in those conflicts killed civilians, some killed dozens, some killed millions, this is just the sad fact of modern day capitalist imperialism, hopefully one day we will live in a world were nation states will become democratic, but at the moment that seems very unlikely.

Also that attitude of
Old IRA = Good
Provo IRA = Bad
Is just stupid & arrogant at best and triumphalist & supremacist at worst.

Last edited by BalcombeSt4; 30-03-2019 at 03:28.
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31-03-2019, 11:38   #17
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Well the Old IRA people you knew were hypocrites. The Old IRA killed off-duty police & soldiers in front of family members, they bombed people, 6 civilians died the day truce came into effect from a landmine, Protestants were chased out of the South, Dunmanway etc... there was a lot of good, decent, open minded people in the Old IRA who were fighting for Democratic values, but there was also a share of bigoted sectarians.

These are just the sad facts of war, every war, even the Franco-Prussian war you mention, civilians are killed by both sides. I can't think of a war/conflict in the 20th & 21st century which at least 500 people died that both sides didn't kill civilians in. Spanish civil war, Russian civil war, WW1 & 2, all the Latin American conflicts, The Irish civil War, the Syrian civil war, The Troubles, the Basque conflict, the Lebanon civil war, the Israel - Palestine wars, Aden, Suez, Malaya crisis and I could be here all day, but you get the point each side in those conflicts killed civilians, some killed dozens, some killed millions, this is just the sad fact of modern day capitalist imperialism, hopefully one day we will live in a world were nation states will become democratic, but at the moment that seems very unlikely.

Also that attitude of
Old IRA = Good
Provo IRA = Bad
Is just stupid & arrogant at best and triumphalist & supremacist at worst.

More trite, vapid, clichéd comment, ignoring the pertinent content of my post and singling out one small sentence.

Your comment on the landmine event (probably Kilgobinet, Waterford) is factually incorrect – it was not civilians but members of the Colligan Company of the I.R.A who were killed. They came to reopen a trench, and accidentally detonated a mine. It was a military encounter.

Why do you bother? Your platitudes are boring and your bias prevents you from seeing the correct picture. The Old IRA did not put bombs in shopping centres or deliberately target civilians, unlike the thugs of recent years. Nor is this a thread to debate the decline of the Protestant population in Ireland, which you clearly do not understand. I suggest you inform yourself by reading some history, not propaganda.
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31-03-2019, 18:40   #18
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More trite, vapid, clichéd comment, ignoring the pertinent content of my post and singling out one small sentence.

Your comment on the landmine event (probably Kilgobinet, Waterford) is factually incorrect – it was not civilians but members of the Colligan Company of the I.R.A who were killed. They came to reopen a trench, and accidentally detonated a mine. It was a military encounter.

Why do you bother? Your platitudes are boring and your bias prevents you from seeing the correct picture. The Old IRA did not put bombs in shopping centres or deliberately target civilians, unlike the thugs of recent years. Nor is this a thread to debate the decline of the Protestant population in Ireland, which you clearly do not understand. I suggest you inform yourself by reading some history, not propaganda.
I believe the Old IRA fought with more honour than the more modern reincarnation and were generally decent men. I am glad they fought and won independence and they deserve to be remembered positively.

In saying that, they did a number of indefensible things. That's war I'm afraid, there has never been an army in history that didn't break its code of honour in wartime.
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12-04-2019, 17:10   #19
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16-04-2019, 17:36   #20
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Were they used all that often, though? I'm not an expert on the later/more recent period, but it sounds like heavy guns were the exception, not the rule.

Certainly, most of the ambushes in the Tan War were hit and run, so anything heavier than what one man could escape with would have been a burden.



True, but then, to what extent were either gun types used? The Truce happened before the imported Thompsons could be used, and they didn't seem to make much of an appearance during the CW.

Likewise for the Lewis - you hear of them used occasionally in the CW, particularly during urban combat like in Dublin or Limerick at the start, but the only notable thing the Free Stater Lewis gun at Beal na blath was jam.



The police barracks taken were at the start of the war would not have been particularly well-equipped save for standard rifles and pistols - British sources were scathing in their estimation of the RIC as having gone to seed as a military force.

And, with one exception (in Cork, I think), no BA bases were captured - indeed, Mulcahy made that fact into a point during the Treaty debates.

BA gear would have been captured in fights like Kilmchael and Clonfin but, then, again, what use would a flying column really have in anything less agile than a rifle?

For the most part, IRA units avoided head-on confrontation with Crown forces unless it couldn't be helped, as the British - and later the Free State - had the numbers, training and armour to overwhelm most units. An extra Thompson or Lewis would not have made a real difference to a force designed to be a guerilla one.
I'd just like to add to this that in the 60's the Viet Cong had no motarized transport were able to carry around M1919's, Soviet RP-46's, German MG 34's & MG 42's (nicknamed as buzz saws because of the rapid firing noise), the very heavey ones the Soviet Maxim, SG 43 & DShK and a Chinese MG 08, all these were transported on foot or push bike along the Ho Chi Minh trail, and the Vietnamese are much smaller people generally than Irish, they also had a wide range of different mortars they used.

So I don't think it would be a huge problem for say the Cork IRA to transport them. Lewis guns were pretty heavey themselves anyway & there was no problem with them.

Yes, all the IRA's attacks were hit & run attacks, with some exceptions like Kilmichael or the Customs House. But if they had access to a Browning M1917 or a M1919 or a even older GPMG and some mortars they could engage the British forces in a actual battle not a just a 5 minute hit & run attack, which really put little pressure on the British Government, and if Crossbarry is anything to go buy the IRA would have a good chance of beating British forces in a sustained battle.
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16-04-2019, 21:51   #21
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I'd just like to add to this that in the 60's the Viet Cong had no motarized transport were able to carry around M1919's, Soviet RP-46's, German MG 34's & MG 42's (nicknamed as buzz saws because of the rapid firing noise), the very heavey ones the Soviet Maxim, SG 43 & DShK and a Chinese MG 08, all these were transported on foot or push bike along the Ho Chi Minh trail, and the Vietnamese are much smaller people generally than Irish, they also had a wide range of different mortars they used.

So I don't think it would be a huge problem for say the Cork IRA to transport them. Lewis guns were pretty heavey themselves anyway & there was no problem with them.

Yes, all the IRA's attacks were hit & run attacks, with some exceptions like Kilmichael or the Customs House. But if they had access to a Browning M1917 or a M1919 or a even older GPMG and some mortars they could engage the British forces in a actual battle not a just a 5 minute hit & run attack, which really put little pressure on the British Government, and if Crossbarry is anything to go buy the IRA would have a good chance of beating British forces in a sustained battle.

The Viet Cong did have the advantages of the jungle as coverage, and a friendly neighbour in the form of North Vietnam to provide supplies and bases, not to mention the aid of another superpower, the USSR. The IRA during either the WoI or CW had no such advantages.

Having said that, the anti-Treaty IRA had built up a respectable-sized fleet of pilfered cars, allowing them to quite mobile - Ernie O'Malley was able to lead a group of Dublin-Tipperary men, riding on such vehicles, against a series of successful engagements against the FS in the opening few weeks of the CW. He only stopped when Liam Lynch ordered him back to Dublin to take charge there.

Would have been interesting to consider the result if the ATs had continued using such mobile tactics. As it was, Lynch was a firm believer in guerilla tactics, which put the ATs on the defensive (much to O'Malley's frustration, if his letters to LL are anything to go by).
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16-04-2019, 23:44   #22
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I'd just like to add to this that in the 60's the Viet Cong had no motarized transport were able to carry around M1919's, Soviet RP-46's, German MG 34's & MG 42's (nicknamed as buzz saws because of the rapid firing noise), the very heavey ones the Soviet Maxim, SG 43 & DShK and a Chinese MG 08, all these were transported on foot or push bike along the Ho Chi Minh trail, and the Vietnamese are much smaller people generally than Irish, they also had a wide range of different mortars they used.

So I don't think it would be a huge problem for say the Cork IRA to transport them. Lewis guns were pretty heavey themselves anyway & there was no problem with them.

Yes, all the IRA's attacks were hit & run attacks, with some exceptions like Kilmichael or the Customs House. But if they had access to a Browning M1917 or a M1919 or a even older GPMG and some mortars they could engage the British forces in a actual battle not a just a 5 minute hit & run attack, which really put little pressure on the British Government, and if Crossbarry is anything to go buy the IRA would have a good chance of beating British forces in a sustained battle.
Dreamland stuff. There is absolutely zero comparison. The Viet Nam jungle war cannot be compared to 1920’s Ireland. Terrain, equipment, supply routes, leadership, use of manpower, etc., all are hugely different.
The only machine guns possibly available to the IRA during the War of Independence would have been ex British Army or at a (hard) push American, so it’s the Vickers or the Browning M1917. Obtaining ammunition for both in sufficient quantities was impossible, and for the latter its calibre (30-06) would have been an additional problem. That is just one reason why they were not used by guerrilla fighters.

Each needed an 8 man crew to serve it, (trigger, feeder, porters). Both (gun, tripod, base plate) weighed over 8 stone (the weight of a trim woman). Try carrying that up the side of a mountain or on a raid, along with sufficient water to cool it, ammo to feed it, etc. Ammunition came in belts of 250 rounds, and with a rate of fire of 500 rounds per minute (both are about the same) each belt would last 30 seconds. Each belt in its box weighed about 10kgs. That is why porters were needed.

Effective use of any automatic weapon required firing discipline, training and lots of practice. The IRA had none of these for machine guns.

Why don’t you read some of the BMH statements and inform yourself on weapons, training, supply, etc., before making these assertions?
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17-04-2019, 03:25   #23
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The Viet Cong did have the advantages of the jungle as coverage, and a friendly neighbour in the form of North Vietnam to provide supplies and bases, not to mention the aid of another superpower, the USSR. The IRA during either the WoI or CW had no such advantages.

Having said that, the anti-Treaty IRA had built up a respectable-sized fleet of pilfered cars, allowing them to quite mobile - Ernie O'Malley was able to lead a group of Dublin-Tipperary men, riding on such vehicles, against a series of successful engagements against the FS in the opening few weeks of the CW. He only stopped when Liam Lynch ordered him back to Dublin to take charge there.

Would have been interesting to consider the result if the ATs had continued using such mobile tactics. As it was, Lynch was a firm believer in guerilla tactics, which put the ATs on the defensive (much to O'Malley's frustration, if his letters to LL are anything to go by).
No of course I'm not comparing the Viet Cong to the IRA, like you pointed out all the advantages the VC had, but I'm saying they both had the similar logistical problems of how to move weapons around the country without the Imperial power in each country finding out.

The IRA were able to move around 3,000 rifles (mostly Lee Enfields) with some Lewis guns & some explosives, with about 650 SMG's towards the end. If they could move them around I don't see why they couldn't move a GPMG or HMG's , there were 18 pounder guns & mortars in Ireland during both the WOI & CW.

Yes, the IRA was in a great place at the start of the CW to take the inititave, but like you said Lynch was a classic case of a general fighting the last war, in that the lessons he learned during the WOI applied only in part to the CW, guerrilla tactics should be a stepping stone until your force is ready to fight in a more convential manner with larger numbers, like any successful guerrilla force of the 20th century that's what happened, VC being a case in point. The CW IRA could have kept using the same guerrilla tactics for 50 years and they would have got nowhere, the point in the WOI & the Northern conflict was to bring the British to talks & then try to get the best deal, the CW IRA could talk to the Free State at the very start.
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17-04-2019, 22:56   #24
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The CW IRA could have kept using the same guerrilla tactics for 50 years and they would have got nowhere, the point in the WOI & the Northern conflict was to bring the British to talks & then try to get the best deal, the CW IRA could talk to the Free State at the very start.
The IRA was also stymied by the lack of a game plan. Get rid of the Treaty, sure, but how? Threaten the Free State into giving up? Destroy the Free State outright? Wait for, as you said, some sort of negotiation? Liam Lynch tried that even before the CW began, and was locked out of the Four Courts by Mellows and co for his troubles.

The IRA Executive proceeded to do...nothing, to the point that the Free Staters were able to march right up to the Four Courts - much to their own surprise, who had been expecting some sort of resistance in the streets - and shell away.

Even after, Lynch had a golden opportunity to beat the outnumbered, out-gunned FSers in Limerick, but preferred to talk it out with their leaders, who strung him along until they had the reinforcements from Dublin to drive him out.

Considering the lack of consensus and certainty from the start on the part of the IRA, I'd say it never stood a chance, even if it had enjoyed more machine-guns and the like.
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18-04-2019, 02:33   #25
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The IRA was also stymied by the lack of a game plan. Get rid of the Treaty, sure, but how? Threaten the Free State into giving up? Destroy the Free State outright? Wait for, as you said, some sort of negotiation? Liam Lynch tried that even before the CW began, and was locked out of the Four Courts by Mellows and co for his troubles.

The IRA Executive proceeded to do...nothing, to the point that the Free Staters were able to march right up to the Four Courts - much to their own surprise, who had been expecting some sort of resistance in the streets - and shell away.

Even after, Lynch had a golden opportunity to beat the outnumbered, out-gunned FSers in Limerick, but preferred to talk it out with their leaders, who strung him along until they had the reinforcements from Dublin to drive him out.

Considering the lack of consensus and certainty from the start on the part of the IRA, I'd say it never stood a chance, even if it had enjoyed more machine-guns and the like.
Yes,I agree 100%

The |CW IRA was the begining of the end of the IRA & they would not be back to fight a sustained camapign with good generals & local commanders until 50 years later in 1972.
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21-04-2019, 15:16   #26
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Yes,I agree 100%

The |CW IRA was the begining of the end of the IRA & they would not be back to fight a sustained camapign with good generals & local commanders until 50 years later in 1972.
It would beg the question to who could have led the AT IRA better in the CW and possibly won it.

O'Malley was one of the more aggressive leaders who wanted a fight early on, and spent the first few weeks of the war attacking - and generally succeeding against - FS forces.
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22-04-2019, 16:57   #27
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Well the Old IRA people you knew were hypocrites. The Old IRA killed off-duty police & soldiers in front of family members, they bombed people, 6 civilians died the day truce came into effect from a landmine, Protestants were chased out of the South, Dunmanway etc... there was a lot of good, decent, open minded people in the Old IRA who were fighting for Democratic values, but there was also a share of bigoted sectarians.

Also that attitude of
Old IRA = Good
Provo IRA = Bad
Is just stupid & arrogant at best and triumphalist & supremacist at worst.
You are not entirely off the mark there. The Soloheadbeg atrocity comes immediately to mind. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but in neither 1916-1922 nor in 1969-1995 can I think of a single instance where Sunday worshippers were attacked by Loyalists or Crown Forces (yes, I'm aware of Stone.)
In all these discussions of right and wrong I never see any reference to Just War Theory, which has its origins in ancient times in Egypt, India and China, and has been embraced in the West, particularly in Christian circles.

I will keep the headings as simple as possible:

1. Just Cause ( to correct a grave evil.)
2. Proportionality (benefits must outweigh harm done.) - I would like to hear the views of alot of bereaved and maimed people on that one.
3. Probability of Success - 1916 loses hands down. (So do the irregulars of 1922-23, but in fairness perhaps they were not aware that the IRA was spent. Collins knew it but dared not let his right hand tell it to his left hand.)
4. Good Intention, e.g. no unjust material gain for the participants. (OK, forget holiday homes in Donegal, but one or two very wealthy people straddling the border would have difficulty escaping censure.)
5. Last Resort - all peaceful alternatives have been exhausted. (ask John Hume or Seamus Mallon.)
6. War must be waged by a proper authority. That is generally taken as a lawfully elected government, but if the government is the problem there should at least be an attempt to test the mood of the oppressed people. William Smith O'Brien traversed the country to determine this before the 1848 Rebellion. In 1916 the voice of the Irish people was the Irish Parliamentary Party. The rebels were a minority of a minority. In the 1970s the voice of the Nationalist people of NI was the SDLP. In the line-up for just war endorsement I'm afraid the Balcombe Street murderers of innocent civilians would be at the very back of the queue.

To conclude, you are correct in maintaining that there was scum at work in 1916-23 as there was in 1969-95.
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27-05-2019, 19:39   #28
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You are not entirely off the mark there. The Soloheadbeg atrocity comes immediately to mind. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but in neither 1916-1922 nor in 1969-1995 can I think of a single instance where Sunday worshippers were attacked by Loyalists or Crown Forces (yes, I'm aware of Stone.)
In all these discussions of right and wrong I never see any reference to Just War Theory, which has its origins in ancient times in Egypt, India and China, and has been embraced in the West, particularly in Christian circles.

I will keep the headings as simple as possible:

1. Just Cause ( to correct a grave evil.)
2. Proportionality (benefits must outweigh harm done.) - I would like to hear the views of alot of bereaved and maimed people on that one.
3. Probability of Success - 1916 loses hands down. (So do the irregulars of 1922-23, but in fairness perhaps they were not aware that the IRA was spent. Collins knew it but dared not let his right hand tell it to his left hand.)
4. Good Intention, e.g. no unjust material gain for the participants. (OK, forget holiday homes in Donegal, but one or two very wealthy people straddling the border would have difficulty escaping censure.)
5. Last Resort - all peaceful alternatives have been exhausted. (ask John Hume or Seamus Mallon.)
6. War must be waged by a proper authority. That is generally taken as a lawfully elected government, but if the government is the problem there should at least be an attempt to test the mood of the oppressed people. William Smith O'Brien traversed the country to determine this before the 1848 Rebellion. In 1916 the voice of the Irish people was the Irish Parliamentary Party. The rebels were a minority of a minority. In the 1970s the voice of the Nationalist people of NI was the SDLP. In the line-up for just war endorsement I'm afraid the Balcombe Street murderers of innocent civilians would be at the very back of the queue.

To conclude, you are correct in maintaining that there was scum at work in 1916-23 as there was in 1969-95.
I agree with that, but all wars for good decent people who truely want to make the world a better place. You have scum in regular armies just as in guerrilla ones, there were certainly scum soldiers in the US army in Vietnam who massacred thousands of civilians, bombed that country back country back to the stone age & 10 years earlier destroyed the infastructure of Korea & killed a million people, to me that's a lot more scummy, than say the Bayardo bar attack, Tullyvallen or Darkley, although all three of them are the work of scumbags, I would rather 12,13 people dying than a million.

Or even take the British Army, I doubt anyone here doubts that the Ballymurphy massacre, Falls Road massacre and Bloody Sunday were the acts of complete scumbags but in comparsing they were nothing compared to the US Army;s Laconia massacre, No Gun Ri massacre or Mi Lai massacre and a study by Robert J. Lilly estimates that a total of 14,000 civilian women in England, France and Germany were raped by American GIs during World War II.

On your point 3. Yes, the Easter Rising in the way it played out with barely 1,000 Volunteers of the IRA taking part in the first day, but if the original plan with 16,000 Volunteers taking part & if the extra 20,000 weapons from Casmeant arrived there would have been a good chance of catching the British Army in a pinzer movment with Volunteer regiments & battalions moving from Cork, Limerick Kerry, Wexford, Galway, & companies & units from Tyrone, Armagh, Belfast & Donegal etc... would have stretched the several thousand or so British troops in Ireland on Easter Monday.

And certainly number 4, the Provisional IRA Volunteers & probably the Old IRA Vols there was no material gain what so ever, it destroyed Vols lives, they didn't get paid, (I think some regular Vols in the Old IRA were given money to live on), but the Provisionals got nothing, had to live house to house and rely on the kindness of people they didn't know very well, to fed them, to clothe them & give them a place to sleep.

Why I don't agree with is how long the Provisional's war went on for, mainly thanks to them there they achieved one of their main objectives, the end of the old, rotten Stormont in March 1972, that was huge. They should have taken Sunningdale as it offered more than the GFA in 1998.
I believe the the re-organization of the IRA in 1978 by Gerry & Martrin was either a military blunder or a calculated plan to further their own political careers.
The Adams leadership points to the Warrenpoint & Dunnganon ambushes in 1979 & the Bessbrook ambush in 1981 as a sign of their plan working, except South Armagh & East Tyrone Brigades (who carried out them ambushes &later ones during the decade) never went under this transformation, S. Armagh still & E. Tyrone still brough 10 - 12 Volunteers with them on operations while the Belfast, Derry & other urban areas brought 2-5.

I'm a Republican, not a Sinn Fein or a Dissident, I agree/agreed (agreed as in people who are now dead) with the likes of Paddy Rice, Brendan Hughes, Anto McIntyre, Gerard Hodgkins, Tommy McKearney, people like that, and people of the left like Eamon McCann, Seamus Costello & Bernadette Devlin.

And just on the moral difference between the Old IRA & PIRA, the PIRA made I think it was 11 or 12 people vanish, the OLD IRA made dozens more disappear. At least the PIRA had the balls to take on the British Army in gun battles, killing about 750 of them as well as 320 of the most well armed police force in western Europe, with Sten,Sterling SMGs, Bren LMGs, etc... the Old IRA killed mainly RIC & USC men that they probably knew about just over 750 of them and about 260 British soldiers.
Now I have great respect for people like Mellows, Lynch, Barry, Traynor, and even tho he was Free Stater Sean Mac Eoin for his great defence of the village of Ballinalee, in which up to 20 British forces were killed, it was probably the greatest military move by the IRA in the war after Crossbarry, as well as his leadership for the Clonfin ambush.
Just like in the Provisional IRA I respect people like Brendan Hughes & for his leadership during the Falls Curfew, Battle of Lenadoon & his Battalions attack on the British undercover unit the Military Reaction Force. Also people like Paddy Kelly, Jim Lynagh & Padraig Mckearney for their attacks on the Ballygawlley, Castlederg, Carrickmore, Tynan & The Birches RUC stations.

Last edited by BalcombeSt4; 27-05-2019 at 21:02.
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