Why were British troops sent to Northern Ireland in August 1969?
As the troubles progressed in Northern Ireland and Civil war was imminent, the British Government in London as a result ordered British soldiers to help restore law and order in Northern Ireland.
The British government on the other hand had been contemplating whether to send in the troops for a number of consecutive years. At hand already they had large numbers of soldiers in nearby barracks at the ready since April 1969. Following the two years of uncontrollable conflict, and the persistent calls of the Catholic residents the army entered Londonderry and then Belfast. The precise reasons why the army was sent in is unclear, however there still are important reasons which have to addressed.
At first the Catholics were relieved as they believed that the British Army will help protect them from Protestant attacks consequently why they received a warm welcome from the Catholic minority this included famously making them tea, sandwiches and even attending their discos. They received a hostile welcome from the Protestants however.
The official reason why British troops were sent into Northern Ireland on the 14th and 15th of August was to protect the Catholic population against loyalist attacks. However behind closed doors, speculation had arisen and more reasons were kept ‘secret’.
Privately the British government was aware that the number of disturbances across Northern Ireland was so great that in fact the 3000 strong RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) could no longer cope. Secret intelligence in which the British government received implied that the IRA were about to launch a major uprising in Belfast and Londonderry. As we know this was false information as in fact the IRA lacked arms, membership and popular support as this particular moment in time.
Although whatever the intention behind the army’s deployment whether it was to defend the RUC or to protect Catholics it did not however...
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