Communicative rather than coercive : re-interpreting the strategies of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and the state up till the hunger strike of 1981 during the Northern Irish troubles
Ho, Hui Qi
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This paper attempts to reframe the strategies taken by the Provisional Irish Army Republicans (PIRA) during the Northern Irish conflict (1966-1999) as communicative strategies. The most dramatic success came through the Hunger Strike of 1981, in which the first hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster as a Member of Parliament. Thus, it may be argued that instead of determining the success of the PIRA as built upon coercive tactics against the state, the PIRA was compelled to split its energies from militant activism to maintain goodwill amongst the lay public. This latent support within the Community allowed it to bolster its claims of legitimacy and to mitigate the representations of violence engendered by its militant activism. By splitting its energies on non-militant activism, its success lies in creating a shared sense of affinity with the Catholic communities against the abuses of the state. Through the act of “community policing,” and the maintenance of an in-house newspaper publication, these laid the foundations for the successful mobilisation of mass support during the Hunger Strike in 1981.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University