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Against Ethnicity: Democracy, Equality, and the Northern Irish Conflict

  • Simon Prince
Abstract

The study of the Northern Irish Troubles is dominated by ethnic readings of conflict and violence. Drawing on new scholarship from a range of different disciplines and on fresh archival sources, this article questions these explanations. General theories that tie together ethnicity with conflict and violence are shown to be based on definitions that fail to distinguish ethnic identities from other ones. Their claims cannot be taken as being uniquely or even disproportionately associated with ethnicity. Explanatory models specifically developed for the case of modern Ireland do address that weakness. Yet, this article contends, they rest upon the fallacy that the Catholic and Protestant peoples are transhistorical entities. Political ideas, organizations, and actions cannot be reduced to fixed group identities. This article argues instead that the Troubles centered on a political conflict—one over rival visions of modern democracy. The pursuit of equality, the core value of democracy, led not only to conflicts but also to some of those conflicts becoming violent. Focusing on Belfast in the summer and autumn of 1969, this article sets out how the main political actors asserted competing claims to popular sovereignty and traces how multiple dynamic and intersecting conflicts became arrayed around the central one.

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Please direct any correspondence to simon.prince@canterbury.ac.uk.
References
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100 McBride, Ian, Eighteenth Century Ireland (Dublin, 2009), 303, 372, 379.

101 Bourke, Peace in Ireland (2003), 190–93, 220.

102 Bourke, “Languages of Conflict,” 573–74.

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106 Bourke, Peace in Ireland (2003), 395.

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110 Lawrence, Jon, Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867–1914 (Cambridge, 1999), 4, 61, 267; Vernon, James, Distant Strangers: How Britain Became Modern (Berkeley, 2014), 7890.

111 Mulholland, Northern Ireland at the Crossroads, 105–11.

112 Bourke, Peace in Ireland (2003), xviii, 301.

113 Bourke, Richard, “Pocock and the Presuppositions of the New British History,” Historical Journal 53, no 3 (September 2010): 747–70, at 769.

114 Bourke, Peace in Ireland (2003), 301.

115 Bourke, Richard, Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke (Princeton, 2015), 677739.

116 Boehm, Christopher, Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame (Philadelphia, 2012), 4974; Wilson, David Sloan, Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society (Chicago, 2002), 2128, 119.

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119 Bourke, Peace in Ireland (2003), 301, 303.

120 Scarman Inquiry, Day 162, 7 June 1971, p. ii, IALS.

121 Ibid., Day 162, 7 June 1971 (John McKeague), pp. 1, 48, 60–63, IALS; ibid., Day 163, 8 June 1971 (John McKeague), pp. 9–10, 27, IALS.

122 The National Archives of the United Kingdom (hereafter TNA), CJ4/46, Notes of a Meeting at the Home Office, 8 August 1969.

123 TNA, PREM13/284, Record of a Conversation between Lord Chalfont and the Minister of External Affairs, 15 August 1969; Report of Discussion at FCO London, 15 August 1969, DT2000/6/658, National Archives of Ireland.

124 Speech by the Prime Minister, 17 August 1969, CAB/9B/312/1, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (hereafter PRONI).

125 “IRA Moves Units in and Warns British Soldiers,” Belfast Telegraph, 19 August 1969. See also, Republican Statement on Northern Crisis, 13 August 1969, DT2000/6/657, National Archives of Ireland.

126 Deputation from Ardoyne Citizens’ Action Committee to meet Belfast City Commissioner, 29 May 1969, D3233/7/5, PRONI; Scarman Inquiry, Day 59, 27 April 1970 (Gillespie), pp. 33–35, IALS.

127 TNA, DEFE/305, Narrative of the Military Operations in Northern Ireland Which Began in August 1969, vol. 1, III-12, Freedom of Information Act. See also TNA, WO305/3808, 39 Infantry Brigade Message, 20 August 1969.

128 Hont, “Permanent Crisis of a Divided Mankind,” 199–200.

129 “E. Belfast Security Plan,” Irish News, 17 September 1969.

130 TNA, WO305/3808, Report on a Meeting with the Central Defence Committee, 27 August 1969.

131 Joint Security Committee Conclusions, 5 September 1969, HA32/3/2, PRONI; Cabinet Conclusions, 15 September 1969, CAB4/1475, PRONI; TNA, WO305/4191, 39 Infantry Brigade Duty Officer's Log (hereafter 39 Log), 16 September 1969; Military Intelligence Reports, n.d. [early September 1969], DT2000/6/660, National Archives of Ireland.

132 TNA, CJ3/18, Narrative of Events, 15 September 1969.

133 Joint Security Committee Conclusions, 25 August 1969, HA32/3/2, PRONI; “Workers Defend Links with Britain,” Belfast Telegraph, 26 August 1969; “Shankill Gets Peace Group,” Belfast Telegraph, 9 September 1969; TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Log, 17 October 1969.

134 TNA, WO305/4192, Record of a Meeting of the Shankill Defence Association, 30 October 1969.

135 Scarman Inquiry, Day 160, 19 May 1971 (John McKeague), pp. 38, 47, 49, 51, 66, IALS; “Defence Association in Shankill,” Belfast Telegraph, 1 May 1969.

136 TNA, WO 305/3808, 39 Log, 16 August 1969.

137 TNA, CJ4/425, Illegal Broadcasting Stations, 4 September 1969; TNA, CJ4/425, Report from Superintendent Hill, 8 September 1969.

138 TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 19 September 1969.

139 Lieutenant-Colonel Sibbald, Crowd Control, 5 December 1969, 79/33/3, Imperial War Museum.

140 Talk to Commanders at GOC's Conference, 2 September 1969, 79/33/3, Imperial War Museum; Narrative of Military Operations, IV-5.

141 TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Log, 5, 7, 10, and 11 October 1969; TNA, WO305/4231, 39 Infantry Brigade (Rear) “G” Log, 10–12 October 1969; TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 20 October 1969; Report by OC 3 LI of Operations on the Shankill Road, 11–12 October 1969, reproduced in Narrative of Military Operations; Statement of Head Constable Stewart, 10 December 1969, BELF6/1/1/23, PRONI; “Worst Fighting since 1922,” Belfast Telegraph, 13 October 1969.

142 TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 20 October 1969.

143 Sanders, Andrew and Wood, Ian, Times of Troubles: Britain's War in Northern Ireland (Edinburgh, 2012), 6; Prince, Simon and Warner, Geoffrey, Belfast and Derry in Revolt: A New History of the Start of the Troubles (Dublin, 2011), 220; Bew, Paul, Ireland: The Politics of Emnity 1789–2006 (Oxford, 2007), 497; Patterson, Ireland since 1939, 217; Hennessey, Northern Ireland, 309.

144 Wilder, Gary, “Unthinking French History: Colonial Studies beyond National Identity,” in After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation, ed. Burton, Antoinette (Durham, 2003), 125–43, at 127, 132.

145 Judson, Guardians of the Nation, 10, 178–80, 215–18.

146 TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 20 October 1969; Report by OC 3 LI of Operations on the Shankill Road, reproduced in Narrative of Military Operations; “Court ‘Doubles-Up’ after the Week-End,” News-Letter, 14 October 1969.

147 “Worst Fighting since 1922,” Belfast Telegraph, 13 October 1969.

148 TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 20 September 1969.

149 “Do We Need a Shock?,” News-Letter, 17 September 1969.

150 De Grazia, Victoria, Irresistible Empire: America's Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge, MA, 2005); Lyons, John, America in the British Imagination: 1945 to the Present (Basingstoke, 2013), 134.

151 “It's Mini-Skirts as Usual,” Belfast Telegraph, 19 August 1969; “Peace Is Tops of the Pop Parade,” News-Letter, 2 August 1969.

152 Brown, Timothy Scott, West Germany and the Global Sixties: The Antiauthoritarian Revolt, 1962–1978 (Cambridge, 2013); Todd, Selina and Young, Hilary, “Baby-Boomers to ‘Beanstalkers’: Making the Modern Teenager in Post-War Britain,” Cultural and Social History 9, no. 3 (May 2012): 451–67; Billy Liar, November 1968, D3219/3, PRONI; Defamator, nos. 1–4, D3219/3, PRONI.

153 Scarman Inquiry, Day 59, 27 April 1970 (Gillespie), pp. 39–40, IALS; Scarman Inquiry, Day 60, 28 April 1970 (Father Marcellus Gillespie), pp. 31, 44-6, IALS; Scarman Inquiry, Day 160, 19 May 1971 (McKeague), pp. 48, 72–77, IALS; “The Peace Seekers,” News-Letter, 4 August 1969; “Martial Law in Belfast ‘A Distinct Possibility,’” Irish News, 4 August 1969; “Unionist ‘Regrets’ 1969 Gig Letters,” News-Letter, 2 August 2009.

154 TNA, CJ4/425, Extracts from Pirate Radio Broadcasts, 4 September 1969; “Behind the Barricades,” Irish News, 11 September 1969.

155 Citizen Press, 30 August 1969, D3297/1, PRONI.

156 “Catholic and Protestant Work for Peace in Area,” Irish News, 8 August 1969.

157 Scarman Inquiry, Day 158, 17 May 1971 (Elizabeth Scott), pp. 16–19, IALS.

158 “In Belfast, the Time of Troubles Becomes a Family's Way of Life,” New York Times, 13 October 1969.

159 Scarman Inquiry, Day 53, 15 March 1970 (Ailbe Delaney), pp. 85–86, IALS.

160 Ibid., Day 50, 6 March 1970 (Anthony Dunham), pp. 62, 70, IALS.

161 Ibid., Day 50, 6 March 1970 (Ann Dunville), pp. 45-6, IALS.

162 Evans, Gillian, “‘What about White People's History’: Class, Race, and Culture wars in contemporary Britain,” in Culture Wars: Context, Models, and Anthropologists’ Accounts, ed. James, Deborah, Plaice, Evelyn, and Toren, Christina (Oxford, 2010), 115–30, at 120, 122; Savage, Mike, Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940 (Oxford, 2010), 3536, 47, 222.

163 Savage, Identities, 221–22.

164 “Catholic, Protestant Peace Corps,” Irish News, 6 August 1969.

165 Government of Northern Ireland, Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969 (Belfast, 1972), 222.

166 “‘We Want Peace’ Plea from Catholic and Protestant,” Irish News, 9 August 1969.

167 “City Peace behind Barb-Wire,” Belfast Telegraph, 18 August 1969.

168 “You Want to Know What It's Like to Be Forced Out of Your Home?,” Belfast Telegraph, 8 August 1969.

169 Scarman Inquiry, Day 50, 6 March 1970 (J. Dineen), p. 62; Scarman Inquiry, Day 59, 27 April 1970 (Gillespie), pp. 37, 63, IALS; Scarman Inquiry, Day 160, 19 May 1971 (McKeague), p. 53, IALS.

170 Scarman Inquiry, Day 46, 2 March 1970 (Vivian Simpson), p. 32, IALS.

171 Ibid., Day 46, 2 March 1970 (Sansom), p. 66, IALS.

172 “How the Terror Hits the Innocent,” News-Letter, 16 August 1969.

173 “Peace Walkers Defuse Threats,” Guardian, 20 August 1969.

174 TNA, CJ3/57; Hunt Committee Meeting with East Belfast Peace Committee, 9 September 1969; “All East Belfast Joins in Bid for Peace,” 1 September 1969, News-Letter; “In Pursuit of Peace,” Irish Times, 8 October 1969.

175 “Shipyard Men Unite to Set ‘Peace’ Example,” News-Letter, 16 August 1969.

176 Scarman Inquiry, Day 164 (Henry Shute), p. 44, IALS.

177 Ibid., Day 48, 4 March 1970 (O'Donnell), pp. 51–52, IALS; ibid., Day 59, 27 April 1970 (Gillespie), p. 64, IALS; “Creating Centres of Peace,” Irish Times, 27 August 1969.

178 “In Belfast, One Incident Is Viewed 3 Conflicting Ways,” New York Times, 28 August 1969.

179 “Ardoyne: Fears That Things Will Never Be the Same,” Irish News, 20 August 1969.

180 Kalyvas, “Conflict,” 608.

181 Healy, Maureen, Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire: Total War and Everyday Life in World War I (Cambridge, 2004), 122–59; Clonard Monastery Domestic Chronicle, September 1969.

182 “Exodus Builds Up after IRA Threat,” Belfast Telegraph, 19 August 1969; TNA, WO305/3808, 39 Log, 20, 24 August 1969; TNA, WO305/4193, 39 Log, 14 November 1969.

183 Brewer, John D., Lockhart, Bill, and Rodgers, Paula, Crime in Ireland 1945–95: ‘Here Be Dragons’ (Oxford, 1997), 21, 44, 92, 94, 214, 220.

184 TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 13 September 1969; TNA, WO305/4231, Infantry Brigade (Rear) “G” Log, 17 and 28 October 1969; TNA, WO305/4193, 39 Log, 18 November 1969; “Clothing Fire,” Belfast Telegraph, 19 September 1969.

185 Scarman Inquiry, Complaints and Reports to RUC of Threats and Intimidations, Belfast Exhibits No 21, IALS; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 8 September 1969.

186 TNA, CJ4/425, Extracts from Pirate Radio Broadcasts, 4 September 1969.

187 TNA, WO305/3808, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 30 August 1969; Narrative of Military Operations, III-13; Fr Pat Egan, “Devastation in Clonard Area—By an Eyewitness,” n.d., Clonard Monastery, Belfast, photocopy extracts from archive and house chronicles.

188 Kalyvas, “Ontology of ‘Political Violence,’” 485.

189 “GOC Shoots Down ‘Courting Room’ Report,” Belfast Telegraph, 23 October 1969.

190 “Watching All the Girls Go By,” Belfast Telegraph, 29 August 1969; TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Log, 28 October 1969; TNA, WO305/4193, Infantry Brigade (Rear) “G” Log, 23 November 1969.

191 TNA, WO305/4231, Infantry Brigade (Rear) “G” Log, 21 October 1969; TNA, WO305/4193, 39 Log, 12 November 1969.

192 “Petrol Bomb Man Gets Three Years,” Belfast Telegraph, 19 September 1969.

193 TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 25 September 1969; TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Log, 2 October; TNA, WO305/4193, 39 Log, 7 and 20 November 1969.

194 TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Log, 3, 16, and 17 October 1969.

195 TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 14 September 1969; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 2 and 5 September 1969; Scarman Inquiry, Licensed Premises, Belfast Exhibits No 20, IALS.

196 “‘Vigilantes’ Operating Protection Rackets,” News-Letter, 10 September 1969; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 11 and 12 September 1969; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 14 September 1969; TNA, WO305/4192, 39 Infantry Brigade INTSUM, 29 October 1969.

197 TNA, WO305/4193, 39 Log, 1 and 26 November 1969.

198 Wood, Elizabeth, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (Cambridge, 2003), 1619, 229–47; Arjona, Ana and Kalyvas, Stathis, “Recruitment into Armed Groups in Colombia: A Survey of Demoralized Fighters,” Understanding Collective Political Violence, ed. Guichaoua, Yvan (Basingstoke, 2012), 143–71.

199 Thornton, Chris, Kelters, Seamus, Feeney, Brian, and McKittrick, David, Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles, rev. ed. (Edinburgh, 2007).

200 “Shot Soldier Wrote Home,” Belfast Telegraph, 15 September 1969; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 14 September 1969.

201 NIREP, 2 November 1969, TNA, WO305/4193.

202 Fazel, Seena et al. , “Depression and Violence: A Swedish Population Study,” Lancet Psychiatry 2, no. 3 (March 2015): 224–32.

203 “Riot Sick Make a Rush to the Doctor,” Belfast Telegraph, 25 August 1969; TNA, WO305/3809, 39 Log, 21, 23, and 30 September 1969; “Children as Fire-Raisers Theory,” News-Letter, 23 September 1969; “Youth Is Jailed on Arson Charge,” Belfast Telegraph, 23 October 1969.

204 This metaphor is adapted from Latour, Bruno, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford, 2005), 35.

205 TNA, CJ3/38, Security Situation, 5 September 1969.

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Journal of British Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9371
  • EISSN: 1545-6986
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