Deniable Contact: Back-Channel Negotiation in Northern Ireland (OUP 2021)

Deniable Contact provides the first full-length study of the secret negotiations and back-channels that were used in repeated efforts to end the Northern Ireland conflict. The analysis is founded on a rich store of historical evidence, including the private papers of key Irish Republican leaders, recently released papers from national archives in Dublin and London, and the papers of Brendan Duddy, the intermediary who acted as the primary contact between the IRA and the British government.

It disrupts and challenges some conventional notions about the conflict in Northern Ireland, offering a fresh analysis of the political dynamics and the intra-party struggles that sustained violent conflict and delayed settlement for so long.

Extracts and articles

Fake it till you make it: the IRA’s go-between who massaged messages to secure peace Irish Times, 30 April 2021

How stalled concessions on hunger strike prolonged Troubles for years Irish Independent, 2 May 2021

Brendan Duddy: a life in the shadows Abridged version of the epilogue to Deniable Contact Derry Journal, 28 May 2021.

Introduction: Negotiating Political Violence available in the Google Books preview of Deniable Contact


Colin Kidd With a Titter of Wit London Review of Books 43 (9), 6 May 2021

Reviews on Amazon

Buying ‘Deniable Contact’

It’s £37 for the Kindle version of ‘Deniable Contact: Back-channel Negotiation in Northern Ireland’ from Amazon.

£52.50 for the hardback direct from Oxford University Press with promo code AAFLYG6 (If you have difficulty using the code – there is a problem with the Chrome browser – you can call OUP and they will sort it out).

£66.50 from Amazon.

Or you could ask your library to order it – either the print copy or an ebook. It’s unfortunate the book is so expensive – academic pricing model -but I hope a paperback will be available in 2022.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nationalism and Violence: Divided Societies course in Dubrovnik 8-14 May 2023

1Nationalism and Violence is the theme of the 24th annual Divided Societies course at the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik which takes place this year from 8-14 May. The course is open to PhD, MA and advanced undergraduate students and you can apply here:

Key speakers include Professor Siniša Malešević, a co-director of the course and one of the foremost scholars of nationalism and organised violence. I’m one of the other co-directors and will be speaking this year on nationalism, violence and negotiation, focusing on Ireland

IUC2During the Cold War the Inter-University Centre was a meeting place for scientists and scholars from east and west and its first director was the pioneering scholar of peace and conflict studies, Johan Galtung. After the violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s a group of academics came together to establish a course on divided societies at the IUC.

Dubrovnik_IUCThe IUC is just a few minutes walk from the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik and the atmosphere at the course is very welcoming.

If you are interested in attending feel free to email me at niall.odochartaigh[at] if you have any questions. More details below and at the link above.

Divided Societies XXIV Nationalism and Violence 8-14 May 2023, Dubrovnik, Croatia

The ongoing wars in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia have all been justified by invoking the rhetoric of nationalism: defending one’s national sovereignty against foreign invasion and occupation, invoking the right to self-determination or protecting the rights of co-nationals being discriminated against in the neighbouring state. Nationalist principles have equally been prevalent in revolutionary upheavals – from the French and American revolutions to the Arab Spring and more recently the failed insurgency in Myanmar in 2021/22. Revolutionaries regularly claim that they fight to attain popular sovereignty. Nationalism has also often been associated with terrorism – from Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers to Ireland’s Provisional IRA, Basque Country’s ETA and People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran. All these insurgent organisations legitimise their actions by reference to national freedom. Nationalist ideologies have also underpinned genocidal campaigns – from the early 20th century mass extermination of Armenians and Hereros to the Holocaust and more recent genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Darfur and Iraq.  Hence violence and nationalism are often perceived to be tightly linked: wars, revolutions, terrorisms and genocides are all justified with reference to various nationalist doctrines. The aim of this course is to explore the social and historical mechanisms that shape this complex and contradictory relationship between violence and nationalism.

We encourage the participation of students and scholars in the social sciences, law and humanities and other fields and disciplines studying social phenomena such as divisions, cleavages, conflicts, borders, ethnicity and diversity.  This post/graduate course is organized as a rigorous academic interdisciplinary programme structured around lectures, workshops and conference-oriented presentations of scholarly research. Course participants will engage in active discussions on the theoretical, methodological and practical issues of research in divided societies. Graduate and postgraduate students’ presentations are also welcome. In addition, the course offers a personal intercultural experience of students and faculty from other contexts in the unforgettable setting of a city that was itself the target of a destructive conflict.

The course offers ECTS credits for PhD and MA students (3-6 ECTS).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New: Specialist Peace and Conflict stream in the MA Politics and Sociology at NUI Galway 2020-21

We are offering a specialist Peace and Conflict stream in the MA Politics and Sociology at NUI Galway for the first time this year (2020-21). You can take up to 40 credits in modules focused on peace and conflict (from a total of 60 taught credits) and write your minor dissertation (30 credits) on a peace/conflict theme. Details below of the four ten-credit modules in the stream. If you have any questions please get in touch.

Conflict, Power, and Peace (Prof Mark Haugaard, Prof Niall Ó Dochartaigh, and Dr Kevin Ryan, Soc and Pol)

This module examines how the key social science concepts of conflict and power help us to understand the causes of violent conflict and the factors contributing to conflict transformation and peace. It combines a strongly theoretical approach to power, conflict, and peace with empirical analysis of contemporary conflicts and peace processes. It examines the practical challenges to peacemaking and peacebuilding, including contemporary debates on humanitarian engagement with armed groups. The module is innovative in combining theories of power and of conflict transformation, two related areas of theoretical inquiry that have not been as closely linked as they might be. It introduces students to debates on the causes of violent conflict and escalation and on efforts to end violence. It covers key issues in peacemaking and peacebuilding, focusing on international conflict and ethnonational conflict, with a particular emphasis on the experience of peacemaking and conflict resolution in Ireland and Israel/Palestine.

Indicative module content: Theories of Conflict, Power, and Peace (40%) / Peacemaking, Peace Processes, and Conflict Case Studies (30%) / Negotiation, Humanitarian Intervention, and Peacebuilding (30%)

Irish Politics North and South (Prof Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Soc and Pol)

The island of Ireland, divided between two political jurisdictions and shared by two competing national projects, provides a richly distinctive context in which to examine the changing character of political action and the contemporary power of nationalism and the nation-state in a post-crisis, globalised, and culturally diverse Europe. This module examines political structures, ideologies, party politics, and political violence in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as cross-border politics and the changing relationships between Ireland, Britain and the European Union.

Indicative module content: Context, ideologies, and government structures (40%) / Political parties, political violence, conflict and consensus (30%) / Cross-border politics; contemporary issues; Ireland, Britain and Europe (30%)

Gender and Conflict (Dr. Stacey Scriver, Global Women’s Studies/Soc and  Pol)

This module examines the gendered dimensions of armed conflict, peace, and security issues with a focus on the role of the United Nations. It introduces students to literatures on gender and conflict in sociology, international relations and international law. Particular attention is paid to the evolution of the ‘women, peace and security’ (WPS) agenda of the UN Security Council and tensions between its different elements, namely ‘protection of women’ (usually from sexual violence) versus ‘participation of women’ in different aspects of conflict resolution, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. Participants consider how the WPS agenda relates to other non-gender specific policy agendas such as ‘human security’ and the ‘protection of civilians’, including the roles of UN peacekeeping and humanitarian actors, as well as timely debates around military intervention in the name of humanitarianism.

NGOs and the making of the Twentieth Century (Dr. Kevin O’Sullivan, History)

In the twentieth century NGOs emerged as one of the key building blocks of the modern world. This module will engage students in a series of discussions and debates on the role of those organisations in re-shaping culture, society and politics. We will examine the role of NGOs in the creation of a transnational civil society, in re-defining citizenship and the state, and in the ‘professionalisation’ of our everyday lives, as well as analysing their impact on issues of governance and the organisation of the twentieth century world. We will do so by examining some of the key issues addressed by NGOs, along with the key questions that they raised. How did NGOs operate? How should we study them? What can they tell us about the growing inter-connectedness of the modern world? In answering those questions this module will also introduce students to the historiography, key concepts and methodologies in the study of transnational action.The module is divided into four parts. In the first section, ‘Ideas’, we will look at some of the core concepts that help us to understand how NGOs shaped society in the twentieth century. The second part, ‘Examples’, examines four case studies of NGOs in action and how they changed how people understood and related to the world around them. In the third section, ‘Consequences’, we will debate the outcomes (good and bad) that the rise of NGOs had on civil society in the twentieth century. The final two seminars will focus on student research and discussing how you have brought the ideas from the module into your own research projects.


Further information and applying:

Full details of the MA, including descriptions of the other modules, is available here:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘The Troubles: a Secret History’ on the Brendan Duddy Papers and the 1975 IRA ceasefire

Episode 2 of BBC Spotlight NI documentary ‘The Troubles: a Secret History’ on Tuesday 17 September examines the archive of intermediary Brendan Duddy at the National University of Ireland Galway and reveals new information about the 1975 IRA ceasefire. You can read more about the secret 1975 negotiations and Duddy’s role in back-channel contact during the Troubles in a series of articles I published, freely available online:  

‘Everyone Trying’, the IRA Ceasefire, 1975: A Missed Opportunity for Peace?

Together in the Middle: Back-Channel Negotiation in the Irish Peace Process

The Longest Negotiation: British Policy, IRA Strategy and the Making of the Northern Ireland Peace Settlement


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Essays by an Irish Rebel: available now in bookshops in Dublin, Limerick, Galway

‘Essays by an Irish Rebel: Revolution, Politics and Culture’ is a fascinating book of essays by a veteran of the 1916 Rising and Prof of Romance Languages at NUI Galway, Liam Ó Briain. Written in Irish between the 1930s and 1960s and published in a range of Irish-language periodicals they are gathered together and translated here into English for the first time. Focused mainly on the War of Independence, the book is now available in bookshops in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and a few other towns or by post. Details below. The essays were gathered together and carefully and faithfully translated by my father Eoin with notes by my mother Niamh. Very proud of them. It includes lots of seldom-seen photos from Galway during the war of Independence. 

In Dublin: Alan Hanna’s Rathmines Road;  Books Upstairs D’Olier St;.

In Galway: at;  Charlie Byrnes in Galway.;  Dubray Books;  NUIG Siopa Leabhair;  Moycullen Bookshop; Clifden Bookshop;  Siopa Standún, Spiddal.  

In Limerick: O’Mahonys Booksellers. And Tralee Castle Street.

Liam Ó Briain (1888 – 1974) was a well-known figure in Irish public life. Spending his early life in the Dublin Docks area , he fought in the Easter Rising of 1916 as an Irish volunteer and endured imprisonment in the aftermath. After his detention he was appointed Professor of Romance Languages at University College Galway where he lectured for forty years. He had also travelled in Europe between 1911 and 1914 on a scholarship . He was a target of the Black & Tans in Galway during the War of Independence and was again imprisoned. He is a striking presence in Peter Lennon’s 1968 documentary Rocky Road to Dublin.

This book includes profiles of friends who were to become notable figures in modern Irish history. Friends like Eoin Mac Néill, Pádraic Ó Conaire, Arthur Griffith, Seán T O’ Kelly, Pádraig de Brún, Piaras Béaslaí and WT Cosgrave. The 25 essays also include a fascinating piece on his neighbour in the Dublin Docklands , the playwright Sean O’Casey and a chance meeting with an Englishman who had participated in the execution of an Irish patriot .


Ardcrú Books have published two other books that give new insights into the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and other aspects of twentieth century Irish history and culture.

Insurrection Memories 1916 (2016), also by Liam Ó Briain

Memoir of an Irish Economist, Working Class Manchester to Irish Academia(2015) at €15.00 each. More details here:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prof Jennifer Todd seminar on Identity Change, Identity Politics and Identity Traps, Thurs 7 February NUI Galway

Professor Jennifer Todd, one of the foremost scholars of the Northern Ireland conflict and of identity change in Ireland is giving a research seminar on Thursday 7 February in the School of Political Science and Sociology in NUI Galway.

Date: Thurs 7 February, 2pm
Venue: Room 333, Aras Moyola
Identity change, identity politics and identity traps: why everyday compromise after conflict is so often reversed. Research from the two Irelands.

Abstract: This paper sketches a dynamic empirical analysis of micro-identity change and its (potential) macro-impact in politics and social life. It outlines some of the concepts, measures and conclusions from my recently published qualitative research on both parts of Ireland (with a control study in France). Its focus on individual identity innovation – set against analysis of social boundaries and cultural grammars – allows comparative empirical analysis of incipient processes of identity change in very different social settings. Its typology of identity change, oriented to project, content and argumentation, shows the obstacles specific to each type of change and the existence of social traps, where individuals’ resources and opportunities lead them to types of change almost certain to fail. This allows more nuanced comparative research than do the dominant political science approaches to identity. Its conclusions go against contemporary wisdom. Identity change is pervasive, even more so in conflict-ridden situations than in consensual ones. It takes a limited number of forms, working from given national and religious bases rather than rejecting them. And it meets predictable social traps. The paper shows how this leads to a distinctive approach to explaining political reversals in Northern Ireland from flags to Brexit and a distinctive policy orientation. Neither pluralist nor cosmopolitan ideologies grasp the process:  rather than ‘new narratives’ there is need for new constitutional signposts beyond identity politics.

Jennifer Todd, Identity Change After Conflict: Ethnicity, Boundaries and Belonging in the Two Irelands. Springer/Palgrave Macmillan 2018


Jennifer Todd is a full professor at University College Dublin (until 2018 in School of Politics and International Relations), Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Fellow of the Geary Institute, UCD, current Fellow of the Political Science Association of Ireland, and (2016) Fernand Braudel Fellow at SPS, European University Institute, research director (previously director) Institute for British-Irish Studies, UCD. She writes on the structural and institutional conditions of (ethnic) conflict and the processes of institutional change that can lead to settlement, with particular expertise on Northern Ireland, and on issues of identity, ethnicity and identity change. On conflict and settlement, she is co-author with J. Ruane of Dynamics of Conflict in Northern Ireland (Cambridge, 1996), co-author with J. Coakley of ‘From Sunningdale to St Andrews‘ (Oxford, forthcoming 2019), and numerous articles in West European Politics, Political Studies, Parliamentary AffairsIrish Political Studies. and numerous edited books and book chapters.  On identity and ethnicity, she has recently published Identity Change after Conflict (Springer-Palgrave 2018), a co-edited journal issue with B. Rumelili on Paradoxes of Identity Change  (2018) and numerous articles and edited volumes, in Politics, Theory and Society, Archives Européennes de Sociologie, Nations and Nationalism, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Participation and Conflict, etc. With J. Coakley she produced an archive of interviews on Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland, recently opened to researchers in the John Whyte Archive, Archives, UCD. She is presently writing (with J. Ruane) a sequel to Dynamics of Conflict, and undertaking new qualitative research in ‘Brexiting’ Northern Ireland.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest speakers at Violence Space and the Archives, Galway 23-24 May

Very happy to announce that speakers at the Violence, Space and the Archives conference at NUI Galway on 23-24 May 2019 will include Patricia Sleeman (UNHCR Digital Archivist) Breandán MacSuibhne (author of ‘The End of Outrage’) Deborah Kaple (author of ‘Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir’) and Brendan O’Leary (speaking in a symposium on his new three volume work ‘A Treatise on Northern Ireland’). Deadline for proposals is Thurs 31 Jan. More details on the website


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CFP: Violence, Space and the Archives. Conference at NUI Galway 23-24 May 2019

Call for papers for a conference we’re organising at NUI Galway, 23-24 May 2019. Delighted to be involved and looking forward to welcoming guest speakers including Patricia Sleeman, UNHCR Digital Archivist

vsa cfp 17th jan 1 page

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Section on Political Violence: final details of panels at the 2018 ECPR General Conference

Full and final details below of all twelve panels in our section on Political Violence at this year’s ECPR General Conference in Hamburg. The papers and panels are particularly strong this year.

S56 P512 Violence and the City I: Global Encounters, Capitalism, and Spatio-Temporal Practices of Violence
Thursday 09:00 – 10:40 (23/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 3 Room: 30
S56 P176 Functional logics of political violence
Thursday 11:00 – 12:40 (23/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P513 Violence and the city II
Thursday 11:00 – 12:40 (23/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 3 Room: 30
S56 P198 How Political is Sexual Violence? Consequences and Responses
Thursday 15:50 – 17:30 (23/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P401 Right-wing violence and modus operandi
Friday 09:00 – 10:40 (24/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P402 Right-wing violence II
Friday 11:00 – 12:40 (24/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P199 How Political is Sexual Violence? Debates on Causes
Friday 14:00 – 15:40 (24/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P270 Mobilization, repression, and violent escalation
Friday 17:40 – 19:20 (24/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P289 New Perspectives on Civil War and Political Violence
Saturday 09:00 – 10:40 (25/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P091 Contentious locations and spaces of violence
Saturday 11:00 – 12:40 (25/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P442 The escalation of violence in the context of street demonstrations
Saturday 14:00 – 15:40 (25/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29
S56 P511 Violence and non-violence
Saturday 16:00 – 17:40 (25/08/2018)
Building: VMP 9 Floor: 2 Room: 29


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The European Union and the Northern Ireland Peace Process. A symposium at NUI Galway 27 April 2018

Venue: O’Donoghue Theatre, National University of Ireland Galway

Time:  27 April 9.45am-5.30pm

Architects of the European Union peace programmes in Northern Ireland will come together for the first time in twenty years to reflect on the role the EU played in the Northern Ireland peace process at a unique symposium in the O’Donoghue Theatre in the National University of Ireland Galway on Friday 27 April. They are joined by academic experts on the European Union and key figures active in cross-border cooperation to explore the significance of the EU role in the peace process and discuss the future of the Good Friday Agreement and the Irish border. The symposium will discuss the challenges posed by Brexit twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, at a time when EU involvement in the Peace Process and cross-border relations in Ireland are at the centre of public debate.

This is a free event but advance registration is essential:

Speakers include:

Mr Carlo Trojan, former Secretary General of the European Commission and Head of the 1994 Northern Ireland Task Force

Mr Hugh Logue, former EU Commission official from 1984. In 1994 he, along with two colleagues, was asked by President Jacques Delors to consult all parties in Northern Ireland. Their recommendations became the blueprint for the first EU PEACE Programme.

Ms Jane Morrice, former head of the EU Commission Office Northern Ireland. She was involved in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and was a member of the Standing Orders Committee which set the initial rules governing Assembly procedures post-devolution

Mr Colm Larkin senior official of the EU Commission from 1974-2004 and special advisor in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998-2001

Andy Pollak, founding Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh

Tom Arnold, Current chair of the All Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit and former chairman of the Irish Times and member of the Royal Irish Academy

Dr Katy Hayward, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast,

Dr Mary C. Murphy, Department of Government, University College Cork,

Dr Giada Lagana, Dr Brendan Flynn and Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway

The event will be opened by Noel Dorr, former Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and former Irish Ambassador to the United Nations and the United Kingdom. Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute, will make closing remarks. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute and Dr Michelle Millar, Head of the School of Political Science and Sociology will act as Chairs.

The symposium originates with the PhD thesis of Dr Giada Lagana on the Europeanization of the Northern Ireland peace process and brings together several of the people she interviewed for the thesis.

This unique and innovative event is organised by the Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security Research Cluster of the Whitaker Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, in partnership with the Moore Institute and supported by the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Academic Association for contemporary European Studies (UACES).

This is a free event but advance registration is essential. Register at

Conference programme available at:

 Contact: Giada Lagana or Niall O Dochartaigh

Posted in events | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment