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And to a degree they were right. Britain only changed its tune when it realised it had a conflict they couldn't win by purely military means. And it wasn't for the lack of a Gandhi. John Hume, Ivan Cooper, the Peace People, and many others championed non-violence and civil disobedience in the face of ridicule and intimidation often from their own side.
My problem with violence is not just the direct suffering it causes, but that it tends to favour the most ruthless and the most powerful - and the often unseen damage it does to those in whose name it is carried out. Northern Ireland, and by extension, Ireland and the UK lost nearly 30 years to a pointless ever diminishing cycle of violence, suffering, and ever more violence.
Socially there is still huge deprivation, demagoguery, bigotry, fear and racism. People don't change for the better through violence: it brings out and reinforces the worst in them. It becomes a self justifying and self-perpetuating cycle.
Thankfully some people managed to break it - and here I would have to give credit, too, to Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinnness, Ian Paisley and to a few less prominent leaders on the Loyalist side. But mostly it was a lot of very hard work by community leaders on both sides on the ground.
Index of Frank's Diaries
One of the great sadnesses of my life was not being able to visit Donegal in 1979, even though a train went by every day through the town of Balbriggan. Why? The only answer I was given at the time was to blame it on William of Orange, who lived in 1650? Never made sense to me, why all these handsome young Irish lads would want to kill one another. But that's just the way war is. It's never made sense to me. Thankfully, due to the good efforts of many (yourself included), things have finally changed for the better, calmer minds prevail and violence is no longer the order of the day.
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