Sir: Tim Willcocks (letter, 30 September), in his assertion that IRA members had to "be prepared for the consequences" of fighting a war with Britain, is either being extremely naive or wilful.
Never in the 25 years of the conflict did the British army or successive governments ever make clear to the broader public that they were fighting a "terrible and unnecessary war". Rather, they claimed to be neutral arbiters in an age-old conflict between Northern Irish nationalists and loyalists. Any other claim would have undermined Britain's argument for keeping troops in the province; and, since 1994, would have undermined its status as guarantor of the peace process.
It is only in this context that the British government's hostility to the European ruling becomes clear. If the SAS did unlawfully kill three "unfortunate" members of the IRA, how does this square with Britain's supposed role?
To imply, as Mr Willcocks does, that the Gibraltar Three were casualties of war is to imply that the army and the IRA were equal belligerents. This also suggests that the IRA was not a terrorist organisation, but an army with legitimate goals. It would be most surprising if any member of the Government or the British army were to come out publicly and agree with him.
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