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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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Imprisonment, ideological development and change

Imprisonment, ideological development and change

(p.69) 4 Imprisonment, ideological development and change
Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Manchester University Press

This chapter reviews the literature on the struggle for legitimacy conducted by republican and loyalist former prisoners in Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s. Although similar tactics were used by both sides in refusing to comply with prison authorities, the larger and more enduring campaigns conducted by republican prisoners were to reshape the conflict. The determination to be recognised as prisoners-of-war was replicated by republicans by their desire to prove that they enjoyed a sizeable electoral mandate. Due to their willingness to endure deprivation and hunger and view prison as another site of struggle, republican prisoners helped shape the direction of their movement, although the precise extent of influence remains disputed. Loyalist prisoners were disoriented by the experience of imprisonment by the state they purported to defend and loyalism struggled, within and beyond prison, to develop a political role. One important element of the prison experience for non-state combatants was access to education.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, legitimacy, conflict, former prisoners, republicans, imprisonment, loyalism, prison, education, non-state combatants

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