Paul Reilly
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Twitter, affective publics and public demonstrations
The 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes
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The decision by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission in July 2013 to re-route the return leg of an annual Orange Order parade away from the nationalist Ardoyne district in North Belfast sparked four consecutive nights of violent clashes between loyalist rioters and the PSNI. Fears of a repeat of this violence were not realised in July 2014, despite the failure of representatives from both sides to broker a solution to the impasse. July 2015 saw a return to violence as loyalist protesters attacked PSNI officers enforcing the Parades Commission’s determination to prevent the return leg from returning home via its traditional route. Chapter 6 explores what role, if any, tweeters played in escalating and de-escalating tensions surrounding the contentious parade in 2014 and 2015. The lifespan of misinformation and disinformation about the dispute shared on the microblogging site will be examined to assess the reach and potential impact of content that had the potential to generate violence between loyalists and the Ardoyne residents. It will also examine the ways in which tweeters framed the dispute from a rights perspective and whether there was any evidence of Mouffe’s ‘conflictual consensus’ emerging on the platform during this period. A critical thematic analysis of 7,388 #Ardoyne tweets, collected in July 2014 and July 2015, was conducted in order to investigate these issues. These will be contextualised through a content analysis of 44 articles published in Northern Irish and Irish newspapers during the Twelfth week across both years.

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Digital contention in a divided society

Social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland


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