In an opinion piece Liam Hourican who has reported on Northern Ireland for RTÉ offers his thoughts on the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland.
On 20 March 1973 the British Government published a long awaited White Paper on the future of Northern Ireland. Over the course of a week, RTÉ provided wide ranging coverage on radio and television dealing with the proposals and assessing reaction to them in the North, in the Republic, in Britain and on the continent.
On the eve of the White Paper’s publication, RTÉ's Northern Correspondent Liam Hourican presented a personal essay of the complexities of the situation in Northern Ireland. During his, he considers the presence of the British Army in the North. While it could be argued the British Army is necessary to counteract the presence of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA). This is
No consolation to the people who must endure it and least of all of the thousands who have experienced the violence, the harassment and sometimes the death which soldiers inflict in an apparently arbitrary way, and who afterwards had to listen to the lies and libels disseminated by the Army in its own defence.
Military misdeeds constitute the deepest stain on the British record in the North.
To illustrate British Army misdeeds he using an incident that occurred in the New Lodge Road in Belfast, involving The Royal Highland Fusiliers, two days before the end of their tour of duty in the North. Shortly before this incident occurred, three Fusiliers brothers Joseph and John McCaig and their friend Dougald McCaughey were killed in in Ligoniel, in the north of Belfast. Fusiliers believed, although it was never proved conclusively, that their killers were in the Provisional IRA.
All of which was little comfort for the people of the New Lodge Road who are now being made to pay in some measure for their crime.
Footage of this incident and of events such as Bloody Sunday make Hourican feel that
If this is the best Army in the world we are fortunate not to be visited by the worst.
According to Hourican a further consequence to the killing of British soldiers is that Catholics are likely to be killed in retaliation by Protestant extremists.
There is a definite coloration between the IRA campaign against the Army and the incidence of sectarian murder.
'An Irish Dimension: A Personal Essay by Liam Hourican' was first broadcast on 19 March 1973.