Leading to Peace: Prisoner Resistance and Leadership Development in the IRA and Sinn Fein

Title: Leading to Peace: Prisoner Resistance and Leadership Development in the IRA and Sinn Fein
Authors: Delisle, Claire E.
Date: 2012
Abstract: The Irish peace process is heralded as a success among insurgencies that attempt transitions toward peaceful resolution of conflict. After thirty years of armed struggle, pitting Irish republicans against their loyalist counterparts and the British State, the North of Ireland has a reconfigured political landscape with a consociational governing body where power is shared among several parties that hold divergent political objectives. The Irish Republican Movement, whose main components are the Provisional Irish Republican Army, a covert guerilla armed organization, and Sinn Fein, the political party of Irish republicans, initiated peace that led to all-inclusive talks in the 1990s and that culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, setting out the parameters for a non-violent way forward. Given the traditional intransigence of the IRA to consider any route other than armed conflict, how did the leadership of the Irish Republican Movement secure the support of a majority of republicans for a peace initiative that has held now for more than fifteen years? This dissertation explores the dynamics of leadership in this group, and in particular, focuses on the prisoner resistance waged by its incarcerated activists and volunteers. It is the contention here, that various prisoner resistance tactics enabled a wide-ranging group of captives to develop the skill set necessary to persuade their community to back the peace initiative, engage in electoral politics, mobilize their supporters to invest in attaining a united Ireland by peaceful negotiations, and put down their arms in a permanent and unequivocal manner. In this dissertation, the work of Paulo Freire is explored in order to capture the processes inherent the resistance-leadership continuum.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22905
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