"If They Want It They Can Have It": Ulster's Tragedy.

The most Lynch would do is blankets and tents etc.
Standard Irish policy on these matters is to refer the matter to the UN.
 
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Thinking about what the British army could do as a civilian who has never served in any army.
I think the British army would try to establish defensive premiers around safe havens for nationalists.
Economic pressure/reality after that could lead to the collapse of UDI.
 
Thinking about what the British army could do as a civilian who has never served in any army.
I think the British army would try to establish defensive premiers around safe havens for nationalists.
Economic pressure/reality after that could lead to the collapse of UDI.
Yes but the question is how many lives will be lost.
1) before safe areas can be establish and
2) how many Nationalists are left outside them.

Can the UK (Great Britain now) cope with the international fall out?
 
You are quite right in saying that. If that had happened in real life and if it had been discovered then the ROI would have been in deep trouble across the world. As has already been established both here and on the video I linked to earlier the Irish Army at the time were minnows compared to their British counterparts. Again it links back to my earlier comments on Lynch's decency.
Minnows doesn't even really give an idea of the gulf between the forces, it's at best highly doubtful that the DF would have forces trained enough and equipped enough for what you are suggesting, or put it another way if British Army forces in NI have lost control, there's no amount of forces that the DF could field that would make the difference. And yeah as @David Flin is suggesting "inflaming" the situation is putting it mildly. If the Unionists have gone UDI can you imagine the fallout to finding DF units operational and lets face it, this is Ireland it would leak like a sieve within hours at most that forces were deployed. In a UDI situation, I would have imagined that the DF would be fully committed to the border and fearing incursions.
 
Yes but the question is how many lives will be lost.
1) before safe areas can be establish and
2) how many Nationalists are left outside them.

Can the UK (Great Britain now) cope with the international fall out?
A lot of people will die.
Defensive positions might be better than going on the offensive against the UDI.
I think it will only be a question of time before UN peacekeeping troops are sent in.
In the meantime, they need to hold the line.
This is going to look a lot like the war in Bosnia.
 

CalBear

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As @BELFAST has shown, the British army troops actually in Northern Ireland are probably outnumbered by the armed police force, the TA units recruited from the Six Counties and the reservists who could return to the colours of the TA. Let alone the paramilitaries and ex-B Specials.

So what could the British forces under General Tuzo achieve? Stop "Loyalist" gangs invading Catholic communities in Belfast (and other strongly Unionist cities) to round up the inhabitants for deportation or worse? Maybe, depending on their ROE and willingness to engage the Police and any TA forces that obey Stormont. I don't see them being able to arrest the rebel government or stop strikers bringing the statelet to a halt - power, transport etc. However, in the rural areas with largely Catholic population it may be able to wrest control from "Loyalist" forces. Would it have to cooperate with the Irish Defence Force and local IRA then? Derry/Londonderry?

Then again, what does Faulknor want to achieve with independence? Ethnic cleansing to reduce the Catholic/Nationalist population seems one answer - but what does he expect to happen after several hundred thousand people have been forced out of their homes and across the border? The territory doesn't have a central bank or currency, any IOUs it issues will not even be "worth a continental damn" but at least could serve as toilet paper. (Which may be in short supply unless there's a functioning paper mill.) The place would fall apart within days or weeks at most once the money taps are turned off and shipments of key goods stopped for lack of payment - even leading aside sanctions! But that still leaves a lot of time for atrocities and major loss of life.

Tuzo will have to be reinforced quickly and strike hard to restore order and take control of Belfast and key installations. Curfews, shooting of rioters and looters and some way of getting recalcitrant "loyalist" workers back to key servicers. IF he can't do that, how ;long before Heath has to call for help from the UN and US in particular?
Okay.

There is armed and then there is ARMED. police are armed. Revolvers, maybe automatic pistols, shotguns. All you need to deal with any criminal situation. Armies are ARMED. Select fire weapons, crew served/belt fed weapons, grenades, mortars, etc. No real comparison. American police figured this out in the 1970s and created "Emergency Services" and SWAT with true paramilitary training and weapons to match, nevertheless an Army brigade would take 4x its own number of paramilitary police or local bully boys and only stop firing long enough to clear enough of the bodies from the pile so they could keep shooting. That would be before the first tank arrived.

Once the first tank arrives with combat ROE everyone without armored support is advised to leave, very quickly.

It is very much like the old saw about a dog and a wolf in a fight - "the dog fights, the wolf eats".
 

CalBear

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A lot of people will die.
Defensive positions might be better than going on the offensive against the UDI.
I think it will only be a question of time before UN peacekeeping troops are sent in.
In the meantime, they need to hold the line.
This is going to look a lot like the war in Bosnia.
More likely NATO assistance or perhaps just Canadian/American.

UN requires UNSC approval. The Soviets and Chinese would almost certainly be delighted to watch the UK tear itself apart.
 
Okay.

There is armed and then there is ARMED. police are armed. Revolvers, maybe automatic pistols, shotguns. All you need to deal with any criminal situation. Armies are ARMED. Select fire weapons, crew served/belt fed weapons, grenades, mortars, etc. No real comparison. American police figured this out in the 1970s and created "Emergency Services" and SWAT with true paramilitary training and weapons to match, nevertheless an Army brigade would take 4x its own number of paramilitary police or local bully boys and only stop firing long enough to clear enough of the bodies from the pile so they could keep shooting. That would be before the first tank arrived.

Once the first tank arrives with combat ROE everyone without armored support is advised to leave, very quickly.

It is very much like the old saw about a dog and a wolf in a fight - "the dog fights, the wolf eats".
Yes in most cases. In Northern Ireland the British forces did have light armour (APCs and Armoured cars) but not as far as I can recall MBTs. David Flin might know better of course. But they are not facing just armed police and mobs.

Depending on what preparations have been made the "Loyalists" can mobilise the TA units, which also have mortars and other heavy weapons. Probably an artillery regiment and ditto an Armoured car one. Plus reservists that would bulk them out.

The combat efficiency of the "Loyalists" will be lower than the Regulars. But not as much below as you might think. And "Quantity has a Quality all of its own".

Think of Little Rock IF the state National Guard along with state police was willing to confront the Airborne Troops. ( ASB improbability of course.) Or maybe Bosnia with NATO forces trying to suppress not just militias but also Serbian army units. Without artillery and airport.

To suppress the UDI quickly Westminster would need to give a great deal of latitude in the ROE to the GIC Northern Ireland. Plus reinforcements with tanks and artillery and air support. I'm not sure that the Tory party as a whole could do that* and while Labour would support intervention it probably would want a UN force brought in quickly

The author seems to be writing that the British army will be able to at least suppress the worst of the violence against Catholics. Whether it regains sufficient control to restore British rule and a normal economy is another matter, we will have to wait and see.

We know that UDI would be an economic and financial disaster within weeks at most. (Unless Britain would somehow decide maintain the financial support and run its banks. Perhaps Faulknor really just want Direct Rule rescinded?) But a lot of deaths could occur before the "Loyalists" would peacefully submit to Direct Rule or agree to power sharing with Nationalists.

It is plausible that the UK needs to send not just the Spearhead battalion and supports Plus follow on units meant for out if area operations. ( Some will already be on tours to Northern Ireland. ) Also the Expeditionary Force planned to go to Denmark under NATO plans and withdraw heavy units from BAOR. Which will all take time.

Might be quicker to beg for the US to send Marine and Airborne units. With a CVBG fir air support. One advantage being that both communities might be more trusting of them.

In the situationoutlined, how long would Nixon take to offer this support? And how soon coukf boots be on the ground?

* It's always had elements tempted to support the Unionists unconditionally for partisan purposes. The many backbenchers who supported White Rhodesia would also support "firm action" against Nationalists and Stormont being aided not suppressed.

Britain in the early 1970s was a very strange place beneath the surface.
 
"Good Evening, I speak to you tonight following one of the most tumultuous weeks in our history. The scenes that we have witnessed have been horrific and a blight on all of us. As you will have seen on the news ordinary Irish men and women have taken it upon themselves to aid and care for thousands of scared people from the North and for that I say on behalf of the Irish nation Thank You so much.

Whatever your feelings are about Northern Ireland, Ulster, the North or however you describe it one thing is clear. We are now at the most dangerous point in our history since the civil war some 50 years ago. People, men, women and children who are loyal to the republic have been forced to flee from the barbarism and cruelty of those who seek to create their own totalitarian state.

We cannot allow this. I cannot allow this. With that in mind I have made two decisions. The first is to have contacted President Nixon and ask for support. The second is that tomorrow morning at 9AM Dublin Time our permanent representative to the UN will make a direct appeal to the security council.

The situation is intolerable. Our resources are stretched to breaking point. We cannot take much more of this. Now is the time for all of us as one nation as one Ireland to say simply. Enough is Enough

Thank You, Good Night and God Bless"

(Jack Lynch TD, 6th April 1972)
 
Yes in most cases. In Northern Ireland the British forces did have light armour (APCs and Armoured cars) but not as far as I can recall MBTs. David Flin might know better of course. But they are not facing just armed police and mobs.

No MBTs, although a few AVRE were deployed for Op Motorman in the early 1970s to clear the no-go areas in Derry.

There would be a squadron left of the Royal Irish Horse with Land Rovers and Spartan APCs (the rest of the regiment had been disbanded in the 1960s with one squadron transferring to the Royal Signals). There is also an artillery battery based in Newtownards and Coleraine but I'm not sure if they were air defence or 105mm Light Gun at that time. If the British deployed tanks to the province (something I'm not sure would happen, even in these circumstances) then neither are going to worry a Chieftain.
 
"Good Evening, I speak to you tonight following one of the most tumultuous weeks in our history. The scenes that we have witnessed have been horrific and a blight on all of us. As you will have seen on the news ordinary Irish men and women have taken it upon themselves to aid and care for thousands of scared people from the North and for that I say on behalf of the Irish nation Thank You so much.

I think you're labouring under the misapprehension that Operation Lifeline, as described, has been something of a success.

With the situation you described:
"Lynch's plan was know as Operation Lifeline and entailed sending small clandestine squads into the North who would effectively set up no-go zones by rigging mines on roads leading into major catholic nationalist areas while transferring those needing medical attention to major hospitals in the South . These squads were dressed in civilian clothing and were recruited for their specialities. By day they acted as ordinary people while by night they engaged in guerilla tactics.

the best description for it would be a complete and utter fuck-up.

It would be discovered that elements of the Irish Army were engaged in planting mines in Northern Ireland. Given that, as yet, Britain hasn't accepted NI's declaration of UDI it is, under international law, British territory. That means that Irish soldiers will have been found to be engaging in an Act of War. This is not a Good Thing. Everyone would go ape-shit over the concept. It would be portrayed - not unreasonably - as an invasion.

It would be discovered that elements of the Irish Army were engaged in sabotage and terrorism while in civilian clothes. Under the Geneva Convention, that is a Big No-No. Some of them will be caught. Some of them will be caught by Loyalist forces. These will have an unfortunate fate.

They are laying mines. These mines can only have come from Government supplies. That directly implicates the Irish Government in these actions, which would be portrayed as acts of terrorism. Laying mines on roads can be described as nothing else.

They are laying mines on roads. Civilians use those roads. There will be civilian casualties. If you think the response to Bloody Sunday was bad (and deservedly so), this would make that look like a minor blip. Bloody Sunday was an action taken during a civil disturbance, a riot. One can, if so inclined, point to extenuating circumstances (not that it was OK, but that one can make a case that it was understandable and heat of the moment stuff). Here, you have a cold and calculated action for which no such mitigating circumstances exist.

Since the plan is to set up no-go areas, then one is setting up areas excluded from fire and ambulance services. Since the bulk of the fire service was Protestant, that's going to have implications. Remember, this was a period when one IRA tactic was to board up exits from the houses of firemen, block the approaches to the house, and firebomb the house while the fireman was working. The idea was to hit the firemen where it hurt - through their families - and terrorise them into giving up their job. Operation Lifeline is giving a freehand to the IRA to expand such tactics.

Guerrilla tactics by troops not in uniform in a foreign country - that's not likely to lead to a good PR outcome.

Oh, and the IRA are not going to take kindly to the incursion of the Irish Army. You can expect casualties in the Irish Army from the IRA.

Let's talk numbers available to Operation Lifeline. At this period, the Irish Army could scrape up around 2500 troops for border activity. Of those troops, 95% won't be suitable for such work. Operating undercover is very specialised work, and there has been damn all training for operating undercover in an urban environment. Every so often, the British Army tried it, picking a few people who got rapid training. It never went well. I see no reason why this would go any better. Anyway, you've got a pool of 125 troops with the skills to do this (and that's being astonishingly generous). Of those, around half are going to want nothing to do with this. Even the densest private can see that undertaking such activities while in civilian clothes is a Bad Idea. It will get them shot (and that's if they're lucky). That leaves us with around 60 soldiers willing and trained for such work. Of those, around one third will not be available (injury, engaged in more vital work, too close to demob, etc). That gives us 40 soldiers ready, willing, and able to do the job. Since there will be multiple locations, and assuming that even Irish troops can only be in one place at a time, that's giving us 10 soldiers to turn Derry into a no-go zone, 20 for Belfast, and 10 for Armagh.

Good luck with that.

Operation Lifeline, as described, will be a mess, it will have inflamed the situation, it will be known to be the work of the Irish Government, and it will have demonstrably killed civilians trying not to be involved. It is a recipe for a bigger disaster than the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Lynch's political career, at this point, is dead in the water.
 
No MBTs, although a few AVRE were deployed for Op Motorman in the early 1970s to clear the no-go areas in Derry.

There would be a squadron left of the Royal Irish Horse with Land Rovers and Spartan APCs (the rest of the regiment had been disbanded in the 1960s with one squadron transferring to the Royal Signals). There is also an artillery battery based in Newtownards and Coleraine but I'm not sure if they were air defence or 105mm Light Gun at that time. If the British deployed tanks to the province (something I'm not sure would happen, even in these circumstances) then neither are going to worry a Chieftain.
Thanks for the information. I'd forgotten-t about the AVREs.

Did the TAVR infantry battalions in Northern Ireland have a full heavy weapons company? With mortars and anti-tank weapons. The latter presumably being Wombats or Mobats rather than ATGM. Would they also gave Carl Gustavs for close quarters?

The fundamental immediate problem for the regular units in Northern Ireland is that they on a peacekeeping establishment. Not "loaded for bear" as in BAOR or even UK bases. So expecting them to brush aside any organised opposition quickly might be optimistic.
 
Thanks for the information. I'd forgotten-t about the AVREs.

Did the TAVR infantry battalions in Northern Ireland have a full heavy weapons company? With mortars and anti-tank weapons. The latter presumably being Wombats or Mobats rather than ATGM. Would they also gave Carl Gustavs for close quarters?

The fundamental immediate problem for the regular units in Northern Ireland is that they on a peacekeeping establishment. Not "loaded for bear" as in BAOR or even UK bases. So expecting them to brush aside any organised opposition quickly might be optimistic.

No idea to be honest, this is all about thirty years before my time (and I was Signals rather than infantry so the only TA I worked with when I was in NI was 40 Signal Regiment).

The regular units (from what I've read) had most of their full compliment of weapons even if they weren't used - I've read at least one account of a Charlie G ND in the late 70s/early 80s.
 

Nick P

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My brief look into British Army infiltration by Loyalist (or whatever they would be ITTL) terrorists and/or British Army collusion seems to point mainly at the Ulster Defence Regiment (duh) and have happened in the '80s. But I think a concern in this scenario, as worries by British Army planners and in events unfolding on the ground:

What about Loyalist agents who rather than defecting, stay in their British Army units and somehow provide intelligence to the Unionists, or worse?

Declassified documents from the period:

If you are going to use the PFC website, be careful to use only the original documents and double check everything.

The PFC site hints at being impartial but the language and style of writing is not professional, e.g. using Literally hundreds to start a sentence is emotive and can be misleading, whereas a museum source would be stating exact numbers.
I looked at every link from their front page and the reporting is biased in that it barely mentions the IRA but focuses on accusations and crimes committed by British forces, the UDR and the UVF.
Another example: the list of terror attacks on the In Their Footsteps page were all blamed on the UVF and British support. If they were halfway impartial then I'd expect to see more mentions of IRA attacks.
 
Okay.

There is armed and then there is ARMED. police are armed. Revolvers, maybe automatic pistols, shotguns. All you need to deal with any criminal situation.
The RUC did not use shotguns. But they had rifles and .357 revolvers, Machine guns, submachine guns and were armed to deal with IRA rebels.
september-1961-members-of-the-royal-ulster-constabulary-on-rifle-in-picture-id3172674

September 1961: Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) on rifle drill in Northern Ireland.
9e8ffaa2668ee568d273246f1867381e.jpg

1978
RUC_Man_on_patrol.JPG

1984
List of weapons below
RUC were more of a paramilitary police force and the only ones in the Uk to be armed.
RUC like the RIC before them main job was to control and stop rebellions against the crown.
British police in Ireland always have been heavily armed with the exception of the DMP in Dublin.
 
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Honest question, I’m not even sure the Irish Army even had mines in stores at the time? I know that doesn’t stop IED type usage but actual mines?
Good question
In ww2 the Irish army were using wooden boxes of gelignite as anti-tank mines and had a bad accident in the glen of imaal with one
 

CalBear

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Yes in most cases. In Northern Ireland the British forces did have light armour (APCs and Armoured cars) but not as far as I can recall MBTs. David Flin might know better of course. But they are not facing just armed police and mobs.

Depending on what preparations have been made the "Loyalists" can mobilise the TA units, which also have mortars and other heavy weapons. Probably an artillery regiment and ditto an Armoured car one. Plus reservists that would bulk them out.

The combat efficiency of the "Loyalists" will be lower than the Regulars. But not as much below as you might think. And "Quantity has a Quality all of its own".

Think of Little Rock IF the state National Guard along with state police was willing to confront the Airborne Troops. ( ASB improbability of course.) Or maybe Bosnia with NATO forces trying to suppress not just militias but also Serbian army units. Without artillery and airport.

To suppress the UDI quickly Westminster would need to give a great deal of latitude in the ROE to the GIC Northern Ireland. Plus reinforcements with tanks and artillery and air support. I'm not sure that the Tory party as a whole could do that* and while Labour would support intervention it probably would want a UN force brought in quickly

The author seems to be writing that the British army will be able to at least suppress the worst of the violence against Catholics. Whether it regains sufficient control to restore British rule and a normal economy is another matter, we will have to wait and see.

We know that UDI would be an economic and financial disaster within weeks at most. (Unless Britain would somehow decide maintain the financial support and run its banks. Perhaps Faulknor really just want Direct Rule rescinded?) But a lot of deaths could occur before the "Loyalists" would peacefully submit to Direct Rule or agree to power sharing with Nationalists.

It is plausible that the UK needs to send not just the Spearhead battalion and supports Plus follow on units meant for out if area operations. ( Some will already be on tours to Northern Ireland. ) Also the Expeditionary Force planned to go to Denmark under NATO plans and withdraw heavy units from BAOR. Which will all take time.

Might be quicker to beg for the US to send Marine and Airborne units. With a CVBG fir air support. One advantage being that both communities might be more trusting of them.

In the situationoutlined, how long would Nixon take to offer this support? And how soon coukf boots be on the ground?

* It's always had elements tempted to support the Unionists unconditionally for partisan purposes. The many backbenchers who supported White Rhodesia would also support "firm action" against Nationalists and Stormont being aided not suppressed.

Britain in the early 1970s was a very strange place beneath the surface.
What you are describing here isn't an insurrection or even political coup. If the TA (Territorial Army?) and perhaps even Regular Army units with mainly Northern Irish cadre are with the leaders of the insurrection, that describes a straight up Civil War. That makes a robust response out of London all the more critical (robust = RAF strikes on hostile bases and camps, with a fairly rapid, as in under a week, movement of heavy units from bases in England and Scotland via amphibious transport, the works).
 

Geon

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I'm surprised we haven't heard yet from the very vocal "Rev." Ian Paisley, the rabidly anti-Catholic "minister" who - speaking as an evangelical Christian - was a disgrace to his profession!
 
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