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Occasional Paper

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On September 1, 1994, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) declared a ceasefire.

The declaration was potentially one of the most significant developments in Irish history since Ireland was partitioned in 1920. It represented, or at the time it seemed to represent, an acknowledgement by the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein, that Ireland cannot be united by physical force, that the armed struggle of the last twenty five years to drive the British out of Northern Ireland has not worked, that the strategy of "the Long War," based on the premise that if the IRA persisted in its campaign of violence long enough, Britain would eventually become war-weary and throw in the towel, has failed; in short, that the central dogma of Republican theology - that only physical force would bring the British to their negotiating knees, which dates back to 1798 has been abandoned.

However, whether the announcement will lead to a peaceful settlement of Europe's most enduring civil conflict is another matter.


This is a revised and updated version of a NORTHERN IRELAND BRIEFING PAPER, prepared for the National Democratic Institute in September 1994:



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