From Bloody Sunday to Good Friday: The evolution and adaptation of the Irish Republican Insurgency, 1969-2005

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University of New Brunswick


During an insurgency, there are three synergistic, interrelated centers of gravity which exist at all levels of the operational hierarchy. The strategic center of gravity of an insurgency is its cause, while the insurgent organization forms the operational center of gravity and the populace forms the tactical center of gravity. During the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland ( 1969-2005) the Provisional Irish republican insurgency conformed to this paradigm. During this time the Provisionals evolved from an original commitment to armed struggle, to an acceptance of violence and politics working hand in hand, to a final disavowal of violence and a commitment to solely constitutional efforts to achieve the cause. It was the ability to adapt their means in order to maintain popular support that allowed the Provisionals to evolve and remain the de facto face of republican nationalism.