Northern Ireland honours 25 years after the Good Friday peace treaty, during which time "the animosity festered in our family."

April 7, 2023



(cnn)

On February 27, 1976, Kenneth Lenaghan, a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), was shot dead outside Victor’s Bar in Belfast by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Anthony McIntyre, the man who pulled the trigger, says he doesn’t have personal regrets, but he doesn’t think it had to happen. Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after a 30-year period of sectarian conflict known as the Troubles. Decades after the Irish War of Independence led to the island’s partition, the conflict escalated in the late 1960s, due to swelling anger at discrimination towards the province’s Irish Catholics. The IRA, mainly comprising Irish Catholics, sought to liberate the north from British rule and reunite it with the Republic of Ireland.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland were fought by the British Army and loyalist paramilitary groups such as the UDA and UVF, mainly comprising Protestants, who sought to keep Northern Ireland a part of the United Kingdom. More than 3,500 people were killed during the Troubles, while 50,000 were injured. Momentary acts of terror were inflicted with long-lasting consequences, spreading fear and trauma through generations. When Northern Ireland voted for peace in a referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, it seemed that the accord was a solution to the constitutional question that had divided the two communities for a century. However, 25 years later, Northern Ireland is without a functioning power-sharing government and sporadic incidents of violence continue, leading the UK government to raise the terrorism threat level in the region to severe.

Billy McCurrie and McIntyre, two ex-IRA men, reflect on the armed struggle and how their minds became colonized by sectarianism, before they spent decades behind bars for murder. Both men have since disavowed violence, but are critical of Northern Ireland’s path to peace.

Uvf Ira Northern-ireland

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