#OTD in 1971 – Internment is introduced in Northern Ireland.

As violence continued to flare in the North, Unionist Prime Minister Brian Faulkner was under increasing pressure to halt Republican violence and bombings against the institutions of Northern Ireland. A conflict that had simmered, sometimes boiled since the introduction of the Northern Ireland state in 1922 was by now reaping terrible toil. The introduction of internment gave the authorities the power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists without trial. In a series of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested and taken to makeshift camps. There was an immediate upsurge of violence and 17 people were killed during the next 48 hours. Of these 10 were Catholic civilians who were shot dead by the British Army, Faulkner claimed that Northern Ireland was “quite simply at war with the terrorist.” (In the 1940s, Éamon de Valera in the South, had also introduced internment against Republicans, many of whom would have fought with Dev and his colleagues during the War of Independence.) Internment provoked even greater violence in the North. Arrests were often made based on outdated information. Internment was to continue until 5 December 1975. During that time 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic/Republican, while 107 were Protestant/Loyalist. Internment had been proposed by Unionist politicians as the solution to the security situation in Northern Ireland but was to lead to a very high level of violence over the next few years and increased support for the IRA. Even members of the security forces remarked on the drawbacks of internment.

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