'an Agony Continued' : The British Army in Northern Ireland 1980-83 by Ken Whart
This book is called ‘An Agony Continued' because it was simply that: an agony. It was an agony which commenced at the end of the 1960s and as the new decade of the 80s arrived, so the pain, the grief, the loss and the economic destruction of Northern Ireland continued. Little did any of us know at the time, but it was to do so for almost a further two decades.
Between January 1980 and December 1989, around 1,000 people died; many were soldiers and policemen; some were Prison Officers; some were paramilitaries; and some were innocent civilians. The Provisional IRA (PIRA) and their slightly more psychopathic cousins in the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) would continue to kill innocent civilians by the score during this decade. Across the sectarian divide the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) and the equally vicious Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) would continue to slaughter Catholics in streets, in pubs and in restaurants.
This book will look at the period which encompassed the 48 months of 1980 and 1983. It was a near half-decade which saw the Hyde Park and Regent's Park massacre of soldiers and horses from the Blues and Royals and the cowardly bombing of the Royal Green Jackets' band. It further witnessed the murder of 18 people by the INLA at a disco held in the Droppin' Well in Ballykelly and also the death of the leader of the Shankill Butchers: Lenny Murphy. The years under study include the 1981 deaths of ten Republican paramilitaries who starved themselves to death in protest against the loss of their status as ‘political prisoners'. As ever, this book pulls no punches in its absolute detestation of both Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries.
This book continues Ken Wharton's epic journey through the Troubles in Northern Ireland, viewed primarily through the eyes of the British Army squaddies on the ground.