Your coverage of the ascendancy of Sinn Féin in Ireland’s General Election contains a statement that is incomplete and therefore misleading.

Associated Press reporters Jill Lawless and Nicolae Dumitrache point out past links between Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army, and state: “The IRA was responsible for murders, bombings and other violence for decades during the ‘Troubles’ in the U.K. region of Northern Ireland. More than 3,500 people were killed during decades of conflict between forces that sought to reunify Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland and those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the U.K. ”

An uninformed reader could thus presume that the IRA was solely responsible for the death toll in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Reliable data from Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland, however, show that Loyalist (pro-British) paramilitaries were responsible for 30 percent of those deaths, and British security forces for another 10 percent. With continuing revelations about the role of the British military – direct and covert – during those years, the latter figure may well increase.

Saturday’s vote shows the enduring power of the Good Friday Agreement, of which Sen. George Mitchell was the architect. A generation of young people has grown up knowing only peace in Northern Ireland, and now assesses Sinn Féin for its 21st-century focus on housing, health care and the cost of living. As the Irish commentator Fintan O’Toole writes, these voters “have redrawn the map of Irish politics to include territory previously marked ‘here be dragons.’ ”

Ellen D. Murphy


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