In reply to "paddymac's" note above. If memory serves me correctly Northern Ireland got their own Parliament shortly after the end of WW II. The British Government in Westminster however retained control of national defence.
His reference to the evolution of an apartheid system by the Orangemen in government cannot be disputed. Their excesses led to the creation of the Civil Rights Movement in the North for which there was tremedous support throughout the British Isles. The marches and the rallies were perceived by the Stormont Government as being potential flash points. The RUC did not have the manpower to cope and a reserve force, the 'B' Specials (predominantly protestant/orangemen), was called up by that government to police the events organised by the Civil Rights Movement. This was something akin to bringing the wolves in to look after the sheep.
The make-up of that force and their one sided policing of the situation caused the Westminster Government to order an extremely reluctant Stormont Government, that the 'B' Specials be disbanded. The situation by this time was running out of control in high gear and the Stormont Government pleaded the case that the 'B' Specials were essential to the maintenance of law and order in the province. The fact that the activities of the 'B' Specials were one of the main threats to law and order escaped them completely. To counter this the British Government offered to send in the Army - this was accepted. To state that this deployment was made to prop up the corrupt regime is not accurate. Our first order of business was to disarm and disband the 'B' Specials as quickly as possible, then, if required, to assist the RUC to maintain law and order. The "if required" part of it became a definite role when, after having been disbanded, large numbers of ex-'B' Specials took to the streets to terrorise the Catholic populations of Belfast and Derry.
Our job then became to keep these two factions apart. We used to patrol Catholic areas and in general we were welcomed - things went to ratshit after the fiasco that was 'Bloody Sunday'and the catholic minority lost faith and confidence in the ability and impartiality of the Army to protect them. During my first trip to Northern Ireland the rocks we were ducking were being thrown at us by Loyalists, while the Republican side were giving us cups of tea and bacon sandwiches.
Like you "paddymac" I believe that the majority of people are looking to the future and want it to be peaceful more than anything else in the world. To that end all involved must forgive the past and get on with bridge building to secure a peaceful future, and as you so rightly say keep a wary eye on the past to ensure that you don't repeat it.