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Finding an Enemy

Conor Gearty: Sixty Years of Anti-Terrorist Legislation, 15 April 1999

Legislation against Terrorism: A Consultation Paper. CM 4178. 
by Home Office and Northern IrelandOffice.
70 pp., £9.95, December 1998, 0 10 141782 9
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... for up to seven days without charge. The clock was ticking towards the holiday break, and the Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare, referring to recent acts of violence, claimed to have ‘been told that if we had had these powers two days ago it is very likely that we might have forestalled one or other ... of those outrages’. In the first two months after ...

Northern Irish Initiatives

Charles Townshend, 5 August 1982

... Towards the end of the debate on the Northern Ireland Constitution Bill in the House of Commons Enoch Powell produced a document which purported to prove the existence of clandestine agreements between the Northern IrelandOffice and the Irish Government ...

When Ireland Became Divided

Garret FitzGerald: The Free State’s Fight for Recognition, 21 January 1999

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Vol. I: 1919-22 
edited by Ronan Fanning.
Royal Irish Academy and Department of Foreign Affairs, 548 pp., £30, October 1998, 1 874045 63 1
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... At the outbreak of World War One, the British Government decided to postpone Home Rule for Ireland, which had just been enacted. Despite this, many Nationalists as well as Unionists enlisted in the British Army. Some radical Nationalists came to believe that action was needed to revive national sentiment ...

In the Sorting Office

James Meek, 28 April 2011

... a struggle for business on the streets of the Netherlands, part of a fratricidal postal war across northern Europe from which Royal Mail – soon, if the government gets its way, to be privatised like its Dutch and German peers – is not immune. Privatising old state post companies doesn’t necessarily make it easier for rivals to compete with ...


Paul Foot, 19 April 1990

War without Honour 
by Fred Holroyd and Nick Bainbridge.
Medium, 184 pp., £6.95, November 1989, 1 872398 00 6
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... So excited was Captain Fred Holroyd by his new posting to the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland as a fully-trained officer in military intelligence that he took great care to maintain his ‘cover’. He grew a rough beard before travelling across the Irish Sea, and dressed up in suitably scruffy clothes for the journey ...

Tired Titan

A.B. Cooke, 8 November 1979

The Factory of Grievances: Devolved Government in Northern Ireland, 1921-1939 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 365 pp., £13
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... and misleading interpretations were placed on their behaviour in 1921-22, when withdrawal from Ireland at last became a practicable policy in Britain. Lloyd George’s Cabinet was accused of deliberately creating a puppet regime in Belfast, charged with the duty of seeking to influence events throughout Ireland as a ...


Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... and the ceasefire will not be prolonged. ‘None of this bodes any good at all for peace in Northern Ireland. Except, of course, in the Orwellian sense: Peace Means War.’ There’s a great deal of talk about inflexibility in Irish politics; this is inflexibility personified. I had watched Dr O’Brien on Newsnight on BBC 2 the night ...

Keith Middlemas on the history of Ireland

Keith Middlemas, 22 January 1981

IrelandLand of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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IrelandA History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... politics ought always to bear in mind John Stuart Mill’s provocative remark, that it was not Ireland but England that was the exception: ‘Ireland is in the mainstream of human existence and human feeling and experience; it is England that is one of the lateral channels.’ Of the authors under discussion, the first ...

With a Titter of Wit

Colin Kidd: Wholly Ulsterised, 6 May 2021

Deniable Contact: Back-Channel Negotiation in Northern Ireland 
by Niall Ó Dochartaigh.
Oxford, 306 pp., £75, March, 978 0 19 289476 2
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... 1970s I lived only a hundred miles from Belfast; but for people in Ayr (in south-west Scotland), Northern Ireland and its Troubles might as well have been Mars. Who would want to go there? Nobody we knew. But there was plenty of traffic the other way. Northern Ireland’s Protestants would come across the water ...

Notes on a Notebook

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 September 1999

... story another narrative may awaken and begin to stand up. And that will be the story you take home: the unending story of the story itself. You’d do well to snap your pencil and walk away at that point. Exhaustion can be a wise counsellor. But sometimes the second story not only stands up but takes to running: it comes after you, and even in your sleep ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... party, but a national movement. It believed itself to be the natural party of government in Ireland, and to some extent it still does. People had reason to be loyal to Fianna Fail. It held unbroken power from 1932 to 1948 and from 1957 to 1973. Fianna Fail could get you a job, a house, a favour. Being a party activist in a small town could give you a ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... authoritarian, hypocritical and morally bankrupt administration almost since the day it took office in 1979. Its ministers have been resigning (or not resigning) in disgrace ever since its inception. The nepotism shown towards its ‘family’ of opportunistic supporters has been evident from the start but has now ...


Susan McKay: In Portadown, 10 March 2022

... the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Jeffrey Donaldson, instructed the first minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan, to resign. This automatically also removed the deputy first minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, from office, effectively bringing about the ...

An Escalation of Reasonableness

Conor Gearty: Northern Ireland, 6 September 2001

To Raise up a New Northern IrelandArticles and Speeches 1998-2000 
by David Trimble.
Belfast Press, 166 pp., £5.99, July 2001, 0 9539287 1 3
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... starved themselves to death in the months that followed. During that summer of 1981, the Northern Ireland crisis came closer than ever before or since to carnage. Levels of mob as well as of subversive violence were high. In Dublin two thousand people attacked the British Embassy. An IRA bomb exploded during the official opening by the Queen of ...


Ronan Bennett, 16 December 1993

De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow 
by Tim Pat Coogan.
Hutchinson, 772 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780091750305
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... now claim more victims than the IRA, but they confine their murdering to Catholics – in Northern Ireland. So while we rightly remember the two boys murdered at Warrington, we conveniently forget the five Catholic workmen killed in County Derry after the two boys died. Sometimes the Loyalists manage to kill a Sinn Fein official, or even on the ...

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