With a significant number of anti-agreement politicians and journalists in the United Kingdom continuing to dismiss the risk of a “no-deal” Brexit upsetting the precariously balanced peace in the UK’s disputed outpost in Ireland, here are two more reminders of what the region looked like before the softening of the hard border which surrounded it. The first is a television clip from April 1974 and a news feature by the ITV network in Britain, presented by the now well-known correspondent and documentary-maker Peter Taylor. Despite the somewhat lopsided reporting, the twelve minute film gives a fair idea of life in the war-torn “frontier” town of Strabane, County Tyrone, during the earliest years of the so-called Troubles of 1966-2005.
The second film, presented by Peter Gill, comes from another ITV broadcast in December 1980, this time focused on the technological struggle between the Irish Republican Army and the British Army. However, while far more partisan in nature, it does highlight the failed campaign by the UK Forces to impose a heavily militarised border around the Occupied Six Counties in the 1970s and ’80s. And indeed, right up to the formal end of the conflict in 2005. A lesson that far too many people in Britain are choosing to ignore as they play party political and career games with two decades of relative peace in Ireland.