Negotiating Defence in Belfast and Derry: Violence Studies Oxford, Fri 9 February

I’m giving a talk at 5pm on Fri 9 February in a panel on ‘Do We Need Defending? The History, Tactics and Modern Relevance of Antifascist, Antiracist and Antisectarian Resistance in the United Kingdom’ with Nigel Copsey (Teesside) Akwugo Emejulu (Warwick) and Stephen Ashe (Manchester). Organised by Adam Brodie and Violence Studies Oxford. Details below of the panel and my paper.

‘This panel will seek to investigate the rationales that have led many groups, throughout the four nations of the UK, to forcefully counter actions by racists, far right organisations and the police. By comparing different mobilisations across time and space, this panel will seek to answer the question of why people deem such actions to be necessary, and whether such actions can indeed make us safer.’

‘Negotiating Defence in Belfast and Derry’, Niall Ó Dochartaigh, NUI Galway

Broad-based local Defence Associations and Committees were set up in nationalist areas of Derry and Belfast as violence surrounding the civil rights campaign escalated in Northern Ireland in 1969. They characterized their role as defending local neighborhoods against both loyalists and the unionist-dominated state security forces. They were broad coalitions, encompassing conservative Catholics and moderates as well as leftists and Republicans who sought to abolish the Northern Ireland state. This paper analyses the negotiated character of their defensive role and the extent to which it involved both tacit and explicit compromises and agreements with state forces. It outlines how these local defence associations engaged with the police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and how they subsequently cooperated and co-existed with the British Armed forces deployed in those neighborhoods in August 1969. Examining the factors that led to a breakdown in these relationships over the following 18 months it uses this case to explore the negotiated character of local defence associations. It seeks to explain how even groups that seek to overthrow the state can develop strong cooperative relationships with state forces.

Details here:


About niallodoc

Senior Lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway
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