Letter: 'War' in Ulster

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The Independent Online
Sir: Thomas Sutcliffe's column of 8 October gave the impression that the "war" between the SAS and IRA was a failure.

Just before this offensive started the non-aligned and Unionist population were having to get used to increased violence. They saw the security forces as impotent. When the security forces hit back against the IRA's "active service units" IRA attacks, while not stopped, were certainly scaled down.

There were much-regretted innocents killed in these operations but they were far fewer than there would have been if the IRA had been allowed to have the run of the province, as they had up until then. In a history of bungling the Thatcher government came up with a scheme that, to a large extent, worked. In a world in which all killing is bad, it was a necessary evil.

Thomas Sutcliffe's SAS/IRA "war" was a far better "recruiting sergeant" for the security forces of Northern Ireland than the IRA. I speak from experience.