No solution

The Labour government and the Northern Ireland conflict, 1974–79

Author:
S.C. Aveyard
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No Solution uncovers the transition from a point in the Northern Ireland conflict where British governments’ sought a quick-fix solution to one where key ministers and civil servants had accepted that attrition would continue for many years.

A number of other accounts have tended to assume that the British state, enjoying more resources than other parties to the conflict, had the capacity to impose a solution in Northern Ireland but lacked the insight to do so. This book reveals that such resources could not overcome political conditions in Northern Ireland during these key years. Those who have argued that the Good Friday Agreement could have been achieved twenty years earlier are shown to have failed to appreciate the context of the 1970s.

Utilising a wide range of archival correspondence and diaries, this monograph covers the collapse of power-sharing in May 1974, the secret dialogue with the Provisional IRA during the 1975 ceasefire, the acquiescence of Labour ministers in continuing indefinite direct rule from Westminster, efforts to mitigate conflict through industrial investment, a major shift in security policy emphasizing the police over the army, the adaptation of republicans to the threat of these new measures and their own adoption of a ‘Long War’ strategy. It sheds light on the challenges faced by British ministers, civil servants, soldiers and policemen and the reasons why the conflict lasted so long. It will be a key text for researchers and students of both British and Northern Irish politics.

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