The Labour government and police primacy in Northern Ireland, 1974–79
in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
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This chapter examines security policy in Northern Ireland under the Labour government of 1974 to 1979. It utilises government archival material and the private papers of key protagonists to explore a substantial shift in strategy that primarily reflected the changing dynamics of the conflict, but which also revealed certain important distinctions between Labour and the Conservatives. It reconstructs discussions and disagreements between ministers, civil servants and senior members of the British security forces during the formulation and implementation of these changes as senior army figures in particular viewed the new policy to be too restrictive. The new strategy prompted criticism from the Conservative party, who regarded it as not tough enough, and from backbenchers of the Labour party, who considered it too aggressive. Ultimately, the chapter considers the inherent weaknesses of Labour’s security policies during these years and the Provisional IRA’s ability to adapt to the new conditions of the conflict.

The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland

The cause of Ireland, the cause of Labour

Editor: Laurence Marley

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