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Critically interpreting the past

Northern Ireland has entered what is arguably the key phase in its troubled political history—truth recovery and dealing with the legacy of the past—yet the void in knowledge and the lack of academic literature with regard to victims' rights is particularly striking. This book analyses truth recovery as a fundamental aspect of the transition from political violence to peace, democracy and stability in post-conflict Northern Ireland. It argues that it is essential for any process of truth recovery in Northern Ireland to provide the victims of political violence with the opportunity to express and articulate their narratives of suffering within the context of public dialogic processes. The book outlines an original model: that victims of political violence should be enabled to engage in meaningful truth recovery through a Habermasian process of public democratic deliberation and communication involving direct dialogue with the perpetrators of such violence. This process of ‘communicative justice’ is framed within Habermas' theory of communicative action, and can help to ensure that legitimate truth recovery publicly acknowledges the trauma of victims' and subjects' perpetrator narratives of political violence to critical scrutiny and rational deconstruction. Crucially, the book aims to contribute to the empowerment of victims in Northern Ireland by stimulating constructive discussion and awareness of hitherto silenced narratives of the conflict. This difficult and unsettling interrogation and interpretation of the conflict from a comparatively ‘unknown perspective’ is central to the prospects for critically examining and mastering the past in Northern Ireland.

A society in transition

In the last generation, Northern Ireland has undergone a tortuous yet remarkable process of social and political change. This book explores what Northern Ireland was like during violent conflict, and whether the situation is any different 'after the troubles'. It examines the political developments and divisions essential to a critical understanding of the nature of Northern Irish society. The book focuses a number of elements of popular cultural practice that are often overlooked when social scientists address Northern Ireland. Sport plays an important though often dispiriting role that in Northern Irish society. It looks at some of the problems and ways forward for transitional justice and memory work in Northern Ireland. The book reviews the history of strategic spatial policy in post-partition Northern Ireland. It draws on feminist scholarship to expose how explanations of the ethnic conflict that ignore gender are always partial. The book illustrates how feminist and gender politics are part of the political culture of Northern Ireland and offers conceptual resources to academics engaged in investigating the conflict. It further provides a brief outline of critical race theory (CRT) and the critique of whiteness therein before using it as a basis from which to examine the research literature on racism in Northern Ireland. The course that popular music has taken in Northern Ireland during 1990s of the peace process, is also considered and the most crucial issues of the peace process, police reform, are examined.

The dynamics of a changing relationship

This unique book breaks new ground in engaging the study of Northern Ireland politics directly with broader debates about European integration and European governance. The text offers the most comprehensive coverage to date of the institutional development of Northern Ireland following the UK government’s devolution programme and Northern Ireland’s development as an autonomous policy actor in Europe. This study marshals evidence from Northern Ireland’s relationship with the European Union (EU) during the contemporary era of devolved power. Uniquely, it does not treat Northern Ireland as a sui generis case-study, but as a region facing the same challenges as many other parts of Europe. This distinctive approach is a key strength of the book. It is a fresh and novel means of studying the EU and produces new and compelling conclusions with broad appeal and application. The text argues that in Northern Ireland, a series of national and regional constraints, complexities and divisions limit the application of the multi-level governance (MLG) model. The distinction between state and civil society in Northern Ireland has become less, rather than more blurred, and has shifted in the direction of the former. The author questions the synergy between devolution and the EU and queries the existence of new forms of ‘governance’. This is a contribution of both immense substance and considerable importance and will appeal to scholars from a diverse range of social science disciplines. It is essential reading for students and scholars of contemporary Northern Ireland politics, EU governance, European regions and conflict studies.

The peace process in Northern Ireland is associated with the signing of the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement, the arduous and lengthy implementation of this Agreement, and the continuing sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Despite the numerous and various studies about this case, no collection of scholarly analysis to date has attempted to assess a wide variety of theories prominent in International Relations (IR) that relate directly to the conflict in Northern Ireland, the peace process, and the challenges to consolidating peace after an agreement. IR scholars have recently written about and debated issues related to paradigms, border settlement and peace, the need to provide security and disarm combatants, the role of agents and ideas, gender and security, transnational movements and actors, the role of religions and religious institutions, the role of regional international organizations, private sector promotion of peace processes, economic aid and peacebuilding, the emergence of complex cooperation even in the world of egoists, and the need for reconciliation in conflict torn societies. How do the theories associated with these issues apply in the context of Northern Ireland’s peace process? Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland explores primarily middle-range theories of International Relations and examines these theories in the context of the important case of Northern Ireland.

Impacts, engagements, legacies and memories

For the three decades of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ (1968–98), the United Kingdom experienced within its borders a profound and polarizing conflict. Yet relatively little research has addressed the complex effects, legacies and memories of this conflict in Britain. It occupies a marginal position in British social, cultural and political history, and the experiences and understandings of those in or from Britain who fought in it, were injured or harmed by it, or campaigned against it, have been neglected both in wider scholarship and in public policy. In the peace process since 1994, British initiatives towards ‘post-conflict’ remembering have been limited and fragmented.

This ground-breaking book provides the first comprehensive investigation of the history and memory of the Troubles in Britain. It examines the impacts of the conflict upon individual lives, political and social relationships, communities and culture in Britain; and explores how the people of Britain (including its Irish communities) have responded to, and engaged with the conflict, in the context of contested political narratives produced by the State and its opponents. Setting an agenda for further research and public debate, the book demonstrates that ‘unfinished business’ from the conflicted past persists unaddressed in Britain; and advocates the importance of acknowledging legacies, understanding histories, and engaging with memories in the context of peace-building and reconciliation. Contributors include scholars from a wide range of disciplines (social, political and cultural history; politics; media, film and cultural studies; law; literature; performing arts; sociology; peace studies); activists, artists, writers and peace-builders; and people with direct personal experience of the conflict.

Democratic socialism and sectarianism

This is a definitive history of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP), a unique political force that drew its support from Protestants and Catholics and became electorally viable despite deep-seated ethnic, religious and national divisions. Formed in 1924 and disbanded in 1987, it succeeded in returning several of its members to the locally based Northern Ireland parliament in 1925–29 and 1958–72, and polled some 100,000 votes in the 1964 and 1970 British general elections. Despite its political successes, the NILP's significance has been downplayed by historians, partly because of the lack of empirical evidence and partly to reinforce the simplistic view of Northern Ireland as the site of the most protracted sectarian conflict in modern Europe. The book brings together archival sources and the oral testimonies of the NILP's former members to explain the enigma of an extraordinary political party operating in extraordinary circumstances. It situates the NILP's successes and failures in a broad historical framework, providing the reader with a balanced account of twentieth-century Northern Irish political history.

The Other side

Conducting an analysis of some of the most candid interview materials ever gathered from former Irish Republican Army (IRA) members and loyalists in Northern Ireland, this book demonstrates through a psychoanalysis of slips of the tongue, jokes, rationalisations and contradictions that it is the unconscious dynamics of the conflict — that is, the pleasure to be found in suffering, failure, domination, submission and ignorance, and in rivalry over jouissance — that lead to the reproduction of polarisation between the Catholic and Protestant communities. As a result, it contends that traditional approaches to conflict resolution which overlook the unconscious are doomed and argues that a Lacanian psychoanalytic understanding of socio-ideological fantasy has great potential for informing the way we understand and study all inter-religious and ethnic conflicts and, as such, deserves to be further developed in conflict-management processes. Whether readers find themselves agreeing with the arguments in the book or not, they are sure to find it a change from both traditional approaches to conflict resolution and the existing mainly conservative analyses of the Northern Ireland conflict.

A model for export?

Northern Ireland is no longer the relentless headline-maker in the global media it once was, when multiple killings and bombings provided a daily diet of depressing news and images. This book commences with a review of the literature on essentialism and then in the three domains: what has come to be known as 'identity politics'; the nature of nationalism; and power-sharing models for divided societies. It draws out implications for key aspects of the Northern Ireland problem. The book is based on secondary sources on Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H). A key resource is the independent journalistic network in the Balkans responsible for the production of Balkan Insight, successor to the Balkan Crisis Report, a regular e-mail newsletter. The book explores how policy-makers in London and Dublin, unenlightened by the benefit of hindsight, grappled with the unfamiliar crisis that exploded in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s. It shows that a taken-for-granted communalism has had very negative effects on societies recently driven by ethnic conflict. The book argues that conflicts such as that in Northern Ireland can only be adequately understood within a broader and more complex philosophical frame, freed of the appealing simplifications of essentialism. More than a decade on from the Belfast agreement, the sectarian 'force field' of antagonism in Northern Ireland remained as strong as ever. Unionism and nationalism may be antagonistic but as individual affiliations 'Britishness' and 'Irishness', still less Protestantism and Catholicism, need not be antagonistic.

This is a comprehensive study of direct rule as the system of governance that operated in Northern Ireland for most of the period between 1972 and 2007. The major institutions of governance are described and examined in detail, including the often-neglected sectors of the role of the Westminster parliament, the civil service, local government, quangos, ombudsmen offices, cross-border structures and the public expenditure process. The book explains how the complex system covering transferred, reserved and excepted functions worked and provided viable governance despite political violence, constitutional conflict and political party disagreements. In addition, a comparison is drawn between direct rule and devolution, analysing both the positive and negative impacts of direct rule, as well as identifying where there has been minimal divergence in processes and outcomes.

A contextual and thematic analysis

Simpson 01 19/1/09 10:35 Page 8 1 The conflict in Northern Ireland A contextual and thematic analysis Introduction Searching for a ‘centre ground’ in Northern Irish politics has never been easy, least of all in terms of truth recovery and dealing with the past. The most problematic question often becomes: ‘Whose centre?’ Yet more often than not, this is a question posed by moral and cultural relativists, or political partisans who use tendentious rhetoric to argue that consensual agreement in which all past wrongdoing is acknowledged and documented is

in Truth recovery in Northern Ireland