IN an extraordinary historical reversal, British soldiers last week were deployed for the purpose of keeping Irishmen from each other's throats. Some 6,500 strong, they were assigned their pacific role in Northern Ireland, whose two largest cities, Belfast and Londonderry, were still smoking after four nights of sectarian rioting between Protestants and Catholics.

In the latest manifestation of a bitter heritage of hatred that dates back nearly three centuries, eight Ulstermen lay dead and nearly 800 (including 226 policemen) were injured. Side streets along Falls Road, the principal thoroughfare in Belfast's Catholic section, were blocked by barricades of double-decker buses....

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