From the December 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard
During recent rioting in Belfast rioters, on a number of occasions, threw nail-embedded sticks of gelegnite at the British Army's notorious “snatch” squads. A number of soldiers were injured about the legs.
Newspapers, politicians and clergymen — who see in the club-swinging, gas-throwing, house-breaking and machine-carbine totting activities of the Army a way to end violence — were quick to condemn the new weapon.
Various Army spokesmen described the weapon as "vicious”, “brutal”, "depraved", and the British Army's Military Governor of the Province described the men who used such a device as "cowards”.
An Army statement pointed out that the new riot weapon was probably an amateurish imitation of the British Army’s "Claymore" anti-personnel device and one newspaper. which was particularly loud in its condemnation of the "vicious cowards" who used the gelegnite-and-nail weapon on the Army, pointed out that while it was based on the Army’s own Claymore bomb it was not, of course, nearly so effective.
Obviously it is not the weapon, then, that makes the "thug" and the “coward” but the purpose for which it is used. If the slum-dwelling, unprivileged youth of Northern Ireland who have been spoon-fed bigotry and hatred all their lives by those politicians whose function, either deliberately or in ignorance, is to maintain the exploitative process of capitalism, if such youth, in sheer frustration at the apparent ineptitude of the politicians to solve their problems and without the necessary political understanding to pursue the solution of these problems themselves, resort to the use of imitation Claymores, then they are “thugs", “cowards" and "hooligans".
If these same youth, in a similar condition of political ignorance, joined "The Professionals” they could learn to use the most sophisticated weapons for dispensing death to their fellow-members of the working class in such areas as where the "peace" and “security" of their capitalist masters are deemed to be in jeopardy. As “Professionals” they could use their Claymores “with pride".
Violence has three sides in Northern Ireland; one side is labelled “Protestant", one “Catholic" and the third, the most proficient by far, is called the "Security Forces'. All are part of the sad tragedy of working class, ignorance.
NEXT MONTH: A survey of the post and present role of the IRA from the World Socialist Party in Belfast.