The outlawed Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army wants nothing better than to escalate the violence in Ulster and further polarize the sectarian communities there. The murder of five British soldiers in an ambush is designed to do just that. We trust the people of Northern Ireland and of Britain as a whole will respond with heightened determination to seek peace through nonviolent means. That is the best way to defeat the IRA's misbegotten purposes.
It is abundantly clear why Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refuses to bend to the demans of the IRA hunger strikers in Maze prison in Belfast. The IRA seeks the status of a legitimate political force even when its aims and its methods are disavowed by the majority of people of the Irish Republic and of Ulster itself. In fact it is probably out of frustration -- because public reaction in Ulster to the recent deaths of two hunger strikers has been so muted , and because Mrs. Thatcher has refused to yield -- that the IRA feels it necessary to fuel another cycle of violence. Why should such criminality be dignified by giving IRA prisoners special privileges?
Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ulster are tiring of the bloodshed. Their restraint now will contribute to the modest but hopeful efforts being made by Britain and Ireland to find a political solution to the conflict. Meantime the world press belies its own fairness if it does not give as much publicity to the IRA's murderousness as it has to Bobby Sands and other Maze hunger strikers who so wrongly seek the epi thet of heroes.