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Bomb Attack in N. Ireland

November 19, 1987

In evaluating whether to believe the IRA or the British Army as to who triggered the bomb at Enniskillen on Nov. 8, it is important to keep several things in mind. One is that the IRA is well aware that, as in this case, the British government will rush to exploit personal tragedy for political benefit. Aside from moral concerns, it is on that pragmatic basis that the IRA has a policy of avoiding civilian casualties.

Yet, knowing this record, the Royal Ulster Constabulary chief could say that he was certain the IRA had intended to kill civilians. This is not a surprising statement. However, British journalist Liz Curtis in "Ireland: The Propaganda War" showed that lying about Northern Ireland is a government tradition. The IRA always sticks with the facts even when self-damaging, to be credible.

The triggering by a British Army high-frequency scanning device was probably an accident but there is reason to believe not. Former members of British "dirty tricks" squads have told about many killings blamed on the IRA in an effort to blacken its image. Neutral parties have given evidence that British authorities withheld bomb warnings so that the public would become outraged against the IRA at the result.

Enniskillen occurred in the midst of the final days of an intense effort by Britain to get Dublin to agree to extradite alleged IRA members to the North, which the Republic is loathe to do because the Northern court system requires no concrete evidence to convict. Those familiar with the activities of British intelligence and covert services would not find it at all out of character that a few civilians would be sacrificed for such an enormous gain.

It is more likely the triggering was inadvertent by the British Army, absurd to believe the IRA would have done it and equally ludicrous to think the British government can be believed on anything relating to its actions in Ireland.

SCOTT S. SMITH

Thousand Oaks

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