Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland : The Origins of the Troubles

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Northern Ireland's Troubles are the tragedy of modern Irish history. Thomas Hennessey's study traces the long course of events that led to the climactic events of October 1968 and ends with the decision of the Provisional IRA to go to war with the British state in 1970. Many of Hennessey's conclusions are controversial. The Troubles were the product of a long inter-communal dispute between Unionist and Nationalist. From the start, Nationalists in Northern Ireland never accepted the legitimacy of the state while Unionists regarded Nationalists as a disloyal fifth column. But by the early 1960s it seemed that this old pattern of distrust was being replaced by a growing rapprochement between the two communities. A new generation of political leaders in Belfast and Dublin opened a dialogue that held out great promise. But the liberal temper of the times proved to be an illusion. The old antagonisms were too enduring. By 1969, when British troops were deployed to prevent civil war, the sectarian genie was out of the bottle. Soon the Troubles mutated into an insurgency against British rule in Northern Ireland. The result was tragedy.
Now, for the first time, the decisions taken by the key actors in the unfolding drama are analysed, based upon the opening of the archives in London, Dublin and Belfast. But the book is more than a study of high politics; it also looks at how politics on the ground shaped events. This book tells, in a step-by-step account, how the bright promises of the 1960s were shown to be false. It is the most complete account we will have of the sleepwalk to disaster. The book asks: was Northern Ireland's long war really necessary?
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Product details

  • Hardback | 462 pages
  • Gill & Macmillan Ltd
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • 0717133826
  • 9780717133826

About Thomas Hennessey

Dr Thomas Hennessey is Reader in History at Canterbury Christ Church University. Among his publications are The Northern Ireland Peace Process. Ending the Troubles? (2000) , Dividing Ireland: World War One and Partition (1998) and A History of Northern Ireland (1997). He was an advisor to the award-winning BBC TV documentary Endgame in Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
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