How the ‘suspect community’ became ‘critical engagers’: the (re)framing of the Irish republican narrative on policing in Northern Ireland

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Abstract

This article is an empirical case study of how the Irish republican narrative on policing in Northern Ireland evolved from an absolutist position of rejection to one of post-conflict ‘critical engagement’. Drawing on previous research by McEvoy and by Mulcahy it evaluates the strategic dimensions to the (re)framing process that aided mobilisation throughout the course of the conflict and into the transition in Northern Ireland. Positing that the Irish republican policing narrative can be conceptualised into four distinct phases (passive rejection, ‘Ulsterisation’, disbandment and ‘critical engagement’), it critiques how the process of (re)framing enabled Irish republicans to adapt their policing narrative to mobilise in response to unfolding political developments in Northern Ireland. Although cognisant of certain dominant themes prevailing across multiple narrative phases, this article examines how the issue of policing was subject to changing narrative frames as the ‘end point’ the narrative sought to make changed from phase to phase. The changing ‘end points’, this article will argue, developed in tandem with changes in the relationship between Irish republicans and the Northern Ireland state.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalIrish Political Studies
Early online date13 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 13 Jun 2016

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