Removing root causes.
Patrick Mercer's article ('Holding the Ring', February 2011) struck a number of chords with me, not least because I too was taught 'duties in aid of the civil power' in the 1950s and likewise found the lessons inappropriate when faced with a real situation, in my case rioters in West Africa.
Mercer's comment about '20 year pulses' of violence indicating that solutions have never been found makes much sense. He is, I believe, correct in thinking that these pulses will continue because the root cause of the problem has not been removed, that is British ownership of the Six Counties. I surmise that the tinting of these pulses correlates with the maturing of succeeding generations of core Irish Nationalists. Over the years Britain has been influenced too readily by their Unionist opponents, the descendants of settlers.
I find similarities with Ian Smith's Rhodesia where independence was resisted for so long. The fact is that Ireland was the first of England's colonies and should have been treated in the same way as her other possessions and handed back to its rightful owners with a programme for compensating those who did not wish to take their chances with the rightful rulers. It would have been a far cheaper solution than keeping up to 16 battalions and support troops in Ulster for nearly 30 years and would have saved the lives not only of the young men of both sides but also the victims of terrorism on the mainland.