23 February 2005
Internment works

I see internment/house arrest/detention without trial is getting a bum rap.  Can’t say I like it that much either, but I am always mindful of one killer fact:

When you are confronted with a terrorist organisation that is able to hide itself amongst a distinct and separate community, you cannot hope to win without internment. This has been proved time and time again, in campaigns against the IRA in the 1940s and 1950s, in the Malaya Emergency and in Kenya.  It’s not the full story - you need a few other things like good intelligence and robust defence of your borders - but it is an essential part of the story.

When you ditch it (as we did in Ulster after 1972) you lose.

The bizarre thing is that people are kicking up a fuss now.  It’s not as if it’s a new thing.  It had been on the statute books for yonks.  I am pretty sure that it was only repealed shortly before 9/11. I don’t seem to remember finding it particularly repressive.

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  1. A couple of questions:

    Did its previous incarnations allow internment on the say-so of a government minister, without oversight by the courts?

    Why hasn’t the Government been arguing that that’s the way we always used to do things?  Or did I just miss that bit?

    Posted by Andy Wood on 23 February 2005 at 03:01pm

  2. Internment in NI was stopped because it wasn’t working, and for every one bona-fide terrorist imprisoned, at least two more were created by the anger it caused.

    It’s a good way to piss people off, but nothing works better than killing the terrorists or preventing them from being created in the first place.

    NI is not a place one should be putting forward as an example of historically good Government Policy.

    Posted by James on 26 February 2005 at 07:12am

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