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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.

Aaron Edwards

21 ‘Truth recovery’ and the role of the security forces in the Northern Ireland Troubles Aaron Edwards1 If you stop and think about the dead, who is to build the new world? In three wars we have lost so many husbands, sons and lovers – yet to think of them repels us. They’re dead, buried under painted wooden posts – why should they interfere with our lives? For we will never die! (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, ‘We will never die’2) Following in the wake of Prime Minister David Cameron’s apology on behalf of the British government for the events on 30 January 1972

in The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain
Conflict, capital and culture

In this book, George Legg provides a new interpretation of the Northern Irish Troubles. From internment to urban planning, the hunger strikes to post-conflict tourism, Legg asserts that concepts of capitalism have been consistently deployed to alleviate and exacerbate violence in the North. Through a detailed analysis of the cultural texts, Legg traces the affective energies produced by capitalism’s persistent attempt to resolve Northern Ireland’s ethnic-national divisions: a process he calls the politics of boredom. Such an approach warrants a reconceptualisation of boredom as much as cultural production. In close readings of Derek Mahon’s poetry, the photography of Willie Doherty and the female experience of incarceration, Legg argues that cultural texts can delineate a more democratic – less philosophical – conception of ennui. Critics of the Northern Irish Peace Process have begun to apprehend some of these tensions. But an analysis of the post-conflict condition cannot account for capitalism’s protracted and enervating impact in Northern Ireland. Consequently, Legg returns to the origins of the Troubles and uses influential theories of capital accumulation to examine how a politicised sense of boredom persists throughout, and after, the years of conflict. Like Left critique, Legg’s attention to the politics of boredom interrogates the depleted sense of humanity capitalism can create. What Legg’s approach proposes is as unsettling as it is radically new. By attending to Northern Ireland’s long-standing experience of ennui, this book ultimately isolates boredom as a source of optimism as well as a means of oppression.

Boiling volcano?

Divisions between north and south Ireland were prevalent since the 1920s. Yet, until the 1970s, nobody in public life in the Republic of Ireland argued that partition was justified. This book examines in detail the impact of the Northern Irish Troubles on southern Irish society during the period 1968-79. It begins with the aftermath of the civil rights march in Derry in October 1968 and traces the reaction to the events until the autumn of 1972. The impact of August 1969, the aftermath of internment and the response to Bloody Sunday are examined. The book looks at violence south of the border, particularly bombings and shootings and their human cost, and examines state security, censorship and the popular protests associated with these issues. A general outlook at the changing attitudes to refugees and northern nationalists is provided before describing the impact of the conflict on southern Protestants. The controversies concerning the Irish Republican Army and their activities are highlighted. The book looks at the question of revisionism and how debates about history were played out in academia as well as at a popular level. A variety of social and cultural responses to the conflict are examined, including attitudes to Britain and northern Unionists. For many southerners, Ulster was practically a foreign country and Northern Ireland did not seem very Irish. By 1979, the prospect of an end to the conflict seemed dim.

Remembering the Ulster Special Constabulary at the National Memorial Arboretum
L. J. Armstrong

geographical functions as a site of memory to the Northern Irish Troubles. This chapter identifies the USCA memorial at the NMA, first established in 2006, as an effort to commemorate the bonds of union within British identity and as a point of interaction between the church, the State and the local community groups involved in its establishment. It aims to look more closely at how and where this particular memory of the Troubles intersects with broader national commemorative culture in Britain. It asks, what a study of this memorial and its service reveal about the role

in The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain
Oliver P. Rafferty

21 Northern Catholics and the early years of the Troubles Oliver P. Rafferty One of the most iconic images to emerge from the thirty-year history of the recent Northern Ireland Troubles is that of then Fr Edward Daly leading a group of people carrying the mortally wounded body of Jackie Duddy in Derry on Bloody Sunday, 31 January 1972. Daly waves a bloodied white handkerchief as a token of peace and as a plea for safety so that the dying Duddy might be given some comfort in the last minutes of his life. Here in brief is a summary of the Catholic Church

in Irish Catholic identities
Political violence in the fiction of William Trevor
Elmer Kennedy-Andrews

Lucy Gault); and Unfinished Business: The Northern Irish Troubles (‘Another Christmas’, ‘Attracta’, ‘Lost Ground’, ‘Against the Odds’). The colonial mindset The title of Trevor’s story, ‘Beyond the Pale’ from the collection Beyond the Pale and other stories (1981), alludes to the original English colony in Ireland, an area around Dublin which came under English jurisdiction in the fourteenth century and, by metaphorical extension, to the terrain of the uncivilised, the irrational, the unsafe, the unacceptable, the unsayable. The story tells of the annual visit of

in William Trevor
Daniel Finn

11 The British radical left and Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’ Daniel Finn From 1968 onwards, Northern Ireland was wracked by political violence: over 3,500 people would die in what was by far the bloodiest conflict in Western Europe since 1945. Adjusted for population size, the casualty figures bear comparison with combined American losses from Union and Confederacy alike during the Civil War. Most British politicians saw (or affected to see) the Northern IrishTroubles’ as an unfortunate and exasperating mess, fuelled entirely by sectarian hatred

in Waiting for the revolution
Combating terrorism in Northern Ireland
Aaron Edwards

, Professor Lawrence Freedman reminded MPs how the UK had ‘many years’ experience of dealing with terrorism’ insofar as ‘the Armed Forces have been deployed, in support of the civil power, to Northern Ireland’. In his opinion they should ‘not neglect that experience, particularly in the field of intelligence’.141 The role of intelligence in shaping the government’s security strategy has not been adequately covered in the academic literature on the Northern Irelandtroubles’, despite its importance in counter-terrorism operations, from the collation of intelligence at the

in Defending the realm?
Film, television drama and the Northern Irish conflict in Britain
John Hill

religious divisions that were a feature of it. If this was so, then it also became possible for the British State itself to come to be regarded as ‘outside of’ or ‘above’ the conflict, with no direct responsibility for its conduct or continuation. Such a benign view of British involvement in Northern Ireland might be said to have been implicit in a great number of the films and plays dealing with the Northern Ireland Troubles and may be seen, for example, in the genial six-part situation comedy, So You Think You’ve Got Troubles, broadcast by the BBC in 1991. Written by

in The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain