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WHY TERRORISM? TWO CLOSE-UP VIEWS. AN IRISH PROTESTANT

By SeriesRushworth M. Kidder / May 15, 1986



Dundonald, Northern Ireland

``Andy kills by proxy,'' says a former British Cabinet minister who oversaw Northern Ireland. Andy Tyrie agrees. ``When we do get an occasion, we attack known IRA [Irish Republican Army] people. I am comfortable, provided that our people shoot or assassinate [only] known Irish Republicans.''

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Sprawled on the sofa in a nicely kept living room, Mr. Tyrie looks right at home: He is baby-sitting for his infant granddaughter while his wife and daughter are at a Friday-night church meeting.

He's also right at home as head of the largest Protestant (loyalist) group in the country, the 10,000-strong paramilitary organization known as the Ulster Defense Association (UDA). His goal: to rid his country of IRA terrorism.

He feels that neither the police nor the British Army is doing the job. So although he does not actively take part in paramilitary activity, he feels no qualms about loyalists taking up arms. ``The only thing [IRA terrorists] understand is a greater form of terror.''

He insists, however, that anti-Catholic feelings are not the issue here. ``I'm not a bigot, it's not a religious problem, it's not a social problem, it's a problem of territory. Anybody who shoots people for religious belief is a psychopath.''

Tyrie, who says he is ``not a practicing Christian,'' notes that the use of terrorism is ``not squared with my conscience. I know deep down it's wrong.'' But he says that he, like many others in the UDA, feel driven to action by the circumstances.

``Most people in [the UDA] are ordinary guys who want to get on with their lives . . . [but] the only way to solve the problem here is to start fighting back.''