Explanations of the Northern Ireland conflict
in Socio-ideological fantasy and the Northern Ireland conflict
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Three substantial works see the Protestant and Catholic communities as being central to the conflict in Northern Ireland: John McGarry and Brendan O'Leary's Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images (1995), Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd's The Dynamics of Conflict in Northern Ireland: Power, Conflict and Emancipation (1996), and Fionnuala O'Connor's In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland (1993). In keeping with Jacques Lacan's emphasis on the centrality of aggression in the construction of identity, this chapter examines the literature that explains the Northern Ireland conflict in terms of communal identity and, in this process, notes the republican self-interpretation. It argues that the explanations offered are either inadequate or insufficient to effect significant change in the dynamics of the conflict and that Lacanian psychoanalysis is required to explain the conflict. McGarry and O'Leary cite the conflict between Protestants and Catholics, rather than religion and culture, as the cause of political violence, political stalemate, and political antagonism in Northern Ireland. Ruane and Todd maintain that the conflict is essentially a matter of historic communal division.


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