I was born too late for anything other than the tail end of the Troubles to really enter myconsciousness directly. As would have been true for many people of my age, I had no particular interest in politics when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, andlived too far from any area likely to be attacked by the IRA for their increasingly infrequentand non-lethal acts of terrorism to make much of an impression on me. The Omagh bombing is the only Irish republican terrorist attack of note that I can remember being awareof at the time.My total ignorance of Irish history and the Troubles was something that I becameincreasingly aware of over time. This awareness heightened fairly rapidly after I somehowcommenced a second (and non-remunerative) career as an analyst of the possibility of violent conflict between Europeans and Muslims in Europe. Eventually I decided to addressthis intellectual deficit and embarked upon an open-ended and entirely self-directed research project into the Troubles. On doing so, I not only discovered much fascinating history, butalso a massive treasure trove of insights into the type of conflict likely to erupt eventually between British patriots keen on keeping Britain British and seditious Muslims keen onturning it into something rather different.However immodest it may sound, the utter lack of concern about or interest in the Troublesthat prevailed over the first three-and-a-bit decades of my life has given me one keyadvantage in trying to draw lessons from them. British though I am, they are nonetheless
to me, in that they do not possess any particular emotional heft one way or the other,and therefore allowed me to approach them in what I hope has been a largely dispassionatemanner.
I explain this not out of some sudden autobiographical urge, but out of a desire to havetaken seriously by readers the following claim: nothing I say about the Troubles or any actor within them, state or non-state, should be taken as implying any value judgement thereupon.As suggested above, I view the Troubles selfishly, as a huge body of data existing to bemined for an advance understanding of what we British are likely to fairly shortly findourselves involved in with our Muslim fifth column. Retrospective approval or condemnation of the various parties to the Troubles I will leave to others.