For a summary of the methodology used in the Killing by Numbers series please see Killing by Numbers: Part 1.
We will begin our re-analysis of The Troubles with a study of the republican armed groups, since they were responsible for most conflict related deaths.
In Part 3 we will deal with the smaller republican groupings but we will begin with the Provisional IRA, since they were by far the largest of such groupings and because they were also the organisation involved for the longest period of time, 1970-1998, whilst the Official IRA had all but abandoned violence by about 1975, the INLA only came into being in 1975 and the IPLO was formed only in 1985/86.
First we must ascertain who exactly the Provisional IRA regarded as “legitimate targets”. Something which is not as straightforward as one would assume.
Of course the Provisional movement regarded the Army, RUC and UDR as so-called “legitimate targets” but that particular list does not end there.
For as well as all serving soldiers and police, the Provos also regarded all former members of the Armed Forces (resident in Northern Ireland) and former police officers as legitimate targets too.
Add to that list all members of the judiciary, all serving and former members of the Prison Service, all members of the Ulster Unionist Party, the Ulster Democratic Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Conservative Party (at least after 1975), members of the Royal household and so-called “collaborators”, ie civilians employed in a clerical role, or as “searchers”, by the RUC and Army, those employed as cooks or cleaners in Army barracks and police stations, those who supplied foodstuffs and other goods/services to the Security Forces and those who built, maintained and repaired police stations, Army barracks and UDR bases.
In fact, the list of so-called “collaborators” was extended in the late 1980s to such a degree that even those who supplied building materials or sub-contracted to those involved in “Security work” were regarded as “legitimate targets” by PIRA/Sinn Fein.
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