Originally Posted by redhen
What exactly IS the IRA fighting for anyways..?
They aren't fighting now because there is a good chance of a political solution.
Their aims are political - they want a reunited Ireland. Religion has become involved because NI has a Protestant majority and the Republic a Catholic majority. The stupid partition of Ireland was decided mainly on that one fact. The Protestant majority in the north took advantage of their strength in numbers and the Catholics, as a result, had a hard time getting good housing, schools and jobs. In the late '60's, things came to a head when the Protestant government, using a police force called the B Specials, brutally put down Catholic demonstrations. The British Army also made a terrible mistake by firing live rounds into a demonstrating crowd.
This gave the IRA its excuse to rearm and retaliate. Later, the commanders lost heart in fighting and splinter groups such as the Provisional IRA and Real IRA continued. The Protestants had their own terror force. Both terrorist groups were supported by some Catholic and Protestant clergy. It's thought that Gaddafi supplied arms and training to the IRA. The British government was in a cleft stick because of the violence from both sides and tried to control matters with the British Army. Government Ministers were killed and a Conservative Party conference in Thatcher's time was bombed. I was in the North twice during those times and life for the locals was not good at all.
There had to be a solution, of course, but the determined violence made it impossible for many years. If the British Army pulled out, the government would have been blamed for the resulting blood bath. Many citizens on both sides seemed to want the violence to continue too.
Before long, the IRA bombings spread to Britain. They didn't seem to care that many British people supported their demand for a reunited Ireland, if not their methods. Their atrocities on the mainland of Britain remain fresh in the minds of many people there.