Between 1969 (more or less following the Battle of the Bogside) and 2001, 3,526 people were killed. Twenty-two years of violence left the same number dead as died in Chile, more or less, during the Pinochet dictatorship. The Republican paramilitary groups (IRA, INLA) killed about 60% of all those who died during the conflict. The Loyalists paramilitaries (UDA and UVF) killed 1,019 and the British security forces another 363. While the Loyalists and the British security forces were not one and the same, I've heard several stories of kill lists being passed from the Brits to the paramilitaries and weapons leaving British military bases in the middle of the night only to be cleaned and returned after some Catholic had been killed.
The violence is described more along the lines of mafia violence. There were numerous assassinations of men. Many of these murders were done in the homes of the victims. Gunmen came through the front door and killed their targets. From what I understand, they did not go out of their way to kill the children in the house or the women even if they were in the same room. I asked if any norms had developed whereby women and children were declared off limits. No one said that that was the case. Part of the reason was that bombs were often left in public places that sometimes killed children (about 75 children under the age of 15 died as a direct result of the conflict).The explanation for why the children or the women weren't killed? Well, we were told that it was so that the survivors would have to live with the memory of what they had seen. I can't say that it was the most convincing of arguments.
What else? During the conflict, something known as kneecapping began to occur. No one remembers it having existed prior to the Troubles but during the conflict both sides ended up adopting the tool.
Kneecapping is a form of malicious wounding, often as criminal punishment or torture, in which the victim is injured in the knee, often using a firearm or power drill to damage the knee joint and kneecap.According to this story, people were rarely shot in the knee. They were shot in the back of the leg. You really had to earn having your knee cap blown out. As a result, word has it that Belfast has some of the finest knee surgeons around.
I'm still getting my head around the level of violence here during the last forty years. 3,500 deaths doesn't sound like an extraordinary number, especially over 30 to 40 years. However, it took place in a country with a population of only about 1.5 million at the time. According to one of the speakers, that would have amounted to 500,000 US deaths given the size of our population.