“The Troubles” is the name given to the nearly 3-decade long conflict in Northern Ireland, from the late 1960s to 1998, ending with the Good Friday agreement of April 1998, its 25th anniversary coinciding with this month's Annals of Vascular Surgery. It is said to have begun during a campaign by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to stop discrimination of the Catholic minority by Protestant authorities. The conflict became more intense in 1969 when Great Britain sent troops to Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom). The Catholic populace was initially receptive to the presence of troops, however the ‘participation’ of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) escalated the conflict, culminating in Bloody Sunday (also referred to as the Bogside Massacre); January marked the fifty-first anniversary of that atrocity. In response to growing violence in Northern Ireland, the government began a policy of internment without trial in the summer of 1971. Its implementation was followed by growing disorder and protest; 21 people were killed over 3 days in the summer of 1971, including the deaths of 11 civilians by soldiers of the British Parachute Regimen during the Ballymurphy Massacre. In January 1972 the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland banned all parades and protest marches. In response, 10-15,000 citizens marched in protest on January 30, an event that was ‘monitored’ by the Parachute Regimen. As tensions escalated, soldiers fired more than 100 rounds into the crowd, without warning, ultimately killing 26. An initial inquiry into the massacre (The Widgery Inquiry) supported the British Army's version of events, namely that their soldiers had returned fire from gunmen and bomb-throwers in the crowd. The report was widely panned as a ‘whitewash’. A subsequent inquiry, the Saville Report (published in 2010), concluded that the soldiers lost control, firing on civilians who were unarmed; no guns or bombs were ever discovered. Then British Prime Minister David Cameron, commenting on the Saville Report to Parliament, stated that “what happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable.”
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