A FORMER head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has described the IRA’s campaign in some border areas as “ethnic cleansing”.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield was speaking last night at the launch of Professor Henry Patterson’s new book Ireland’s Violent Frontier at No Alibis bookshop in Belfast.
Introducing the book which explores the IRA’s border campaign and the attitude of the Irish government, Sir Kenneth said he had personally known many of the top politicians, police and military personnel during the Troubles through his work.
“More often than not relations [between Garda] with the RUC were reasonably good; there were much greater hang-ups in terms of cooperation with the Army,” he said.
“The civil guard generally recognised in the RUC man across the border another Irish police man, albeit in a different jurisdiction, whereas the Army was seen more as a foreign force.
“I welcome recognition of the IRA’s campaign against border Protestants/unionists, which was ethnic cleansing.”
He added that the Disappeared illustrates the IRA’s strength in south Armagh as many of the Disappeared were from that area.
However, he said the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains has been a good example of cross-border cooperation, adding that some things do change for the better.
Concluding his remarks, he pointed out that he has attended two funerals recently in south Armagh, even finishing off at Crossmaglen GAA club.
Professor Patterson said one of the aspects that struck him most was the relentlessness of the violence.
“During parts of the 1970s and 80s there was an incident every day; bombings and shootings and how people were able to live through it, essentially, and survive tragedy without retaliation.”
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and Fermanagh victims’ campaigner Kenny Donaldson were among the crowd at the launch and both commented on whether the Irish government should make a statement regarding their attitude to wards the IRA during the Troubles.
Mr Nesbitt described the book as “incredible timely when the focus is now on the role of the Irish State and whether they need to make some sort of apology for the actions of the IRA”.
Mr Donaldson said he felt the Irish government should issue an apology.
However, Sir Kenneth told the News Letter following his speech that he believed this would be “a bit fruitless”.
“It is almost as if you are going to invite the current German government to apologise for the Holocaust,” he said.