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Abandoning Historical Conflict?Former Political Prisoners and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland$
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Peter Shirlow, Jon Tonge, and James McAuley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719080111

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719080111.001.0001

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Political views and understandings

Political views and understandings

(p.45) 3 Political views and understandings
Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Manchester University Press

This chapter analyses the motivations underpinning participation in the conflict in Northern Ireland. It shows that experiential and situational factors were more important than historical belief and family tradition, and that motivations for joining were often reactive and ideological development followed, rather than preceded, violent actions and imprisonment. In engaging with the narratives presented by former prisoners, the chapter seeks to capture the complexity of combatant lives and experiences. Whilst drawing upon the interpretations of events and life histories, it aids the contextualisation of some broader arguments presented elsewhere in the book. The narratives presented are structured around past events that shaped the views of combatants; whether ‘combatants’ engaged in ‘military’ activity primarily because of strongly held personal beliefs, deeply held ideological perspectives, or some combination of both. As in other societies, Northern Ireland is characterised by dominant sets of competing and contested attitudes bounded and reinforced by patterns of political socialisation.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, motivations, combatants, conflict, family tradition, experiences, political socialisation, personal beliefs, life histories, narratives

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