IRA v ?
Strange, I'm been a puzzled onlooker to this thread since it started. I'm a Police Officer and also a very enthusiastic photographer; as indeed are a number of friends and colleagues.
I've yet to come across any circumstances where its even crossed my mind to stop and search someone for taking photos let alone act upon it. I've recently made a point of asking as many colleagues as possible for their views and, without exception, their views were the same as mine.
Indeed, most of them looked utterly baffled and made such comments as "Why? What would be the point?". That said, many of us work in and around tourist destinations so being photographed is such a constant that its barely even noticed.
Incidentally my primary role is that of Protection and Counter Terrorism and I have being so engaged since the IRA were in full swing. We played a constant cat and mouse game with them and we would frequently cross paths - they would sometime let us know that we were under close quarters observation and, on occasions we foiled their intended attacks .... not all of which ever reached the media.
The IRA genuinely thought of themselves as soldiers fighting an honourable war with stated political objectives and as such they were, to a great extent, a known quantity. I happily survived one bombing by immense good fortune .... that particular event being instrumental in setting up the unit I am now on.
I have been kept at least equally busy with the 'new threat' but its not at all the same. These people are far less professional or rational than the Republicans and that has made a huge difference in our response. There is no over-arching organisation, as such, and all those involved (that I have met) have been utterly unpredictable and in possession of a world view that few 'infidels' seem to truly comprehend. Their ultimate objective is unattainable but they don't recognise that and, unlike the IRA, their 'Means' have become more important than the 'Ends".
The conflict has been centuries in the making only catalysed by recent events. An inevitable religio-cultural clash that cannot be won by any side and is likely to be with us now for years if not indefinitely ..... adversaries that cannot be negotiated, bought, politically coerced or beaten presents difficulties well beyond that anything the IRA had to offer. ,,,, And ultimately I believe it is this that is spooking western Governments so.
Finally, the other major difference that has hit me personally, is that, this time, I have found explosives, lots of them, together with the INTENTION to kill more people in one go than they IRA did in their entire history. I have been involved in a number of such operations so far, several highly effective and, just as before (and for exactly the same reasons), not all of which have been made public.
And I know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there are a significant number of people still alive today who would otherwise be dead by now .... maybe even one or two of you, if that doesn't sound over melodramatic? (and it probably does).
You can take from this what you will, your views, like mine, are of no real consequence; I'm just relating what I've experienced. You are quite free to believe the world is flat - as ironically - did one of our above mentioed home grown nasties!.