Effectiveness of Violence in Northern Ireland
Mentor:David Nelson, Professor of History, California Lutheran Universtiy
Conflict has been ubiquitous in Ireland for centuries, however the time period commonly referred to as “the Troubles,” (1960s to 1990s) is unique in that violence serves not only as an act of retaliation, but also as a response to social discontent. This research, drawing from primary sources such as personal accounts, interviews, government documents, and periodicals produced by various actors and groups engaged in the conflict, identifies the different forms of violence present and measures the effectiveness of such forms of violence in terms of public, military, and political responses. Personalized forms of violence such as premeditated murders, strategic assassinations and even hunger strikes, though less prevalent in frequency and breadth, had greater significance in terms of shaping general perceptions than did public forms of violence such as terrorism, police activity, as well as socioeconomic violence in the form of inequality and discrimination. Additionally, through emphasis of the multifaceted nature of the conflict, this paper demonstrates that the Troubles cannot be viewed simply as a struggle between two religious factions, as a political uprising, or as an ethnic struggle. Episodes of violence within the conflict, as well as the Troubles as a whole, must be recognized and appreciated as the product of a vast, complex skein of overlapping issues that have been shaped by a combination of cultural, psycho-sociological and geographic influences.