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Illusions of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism$
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Richard English

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265901

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265901.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 27 November 2021

Why Terrorist Campaigns Do Not End

Why Terrorist Campaigns Do Not End

The Case of Contemporary Dissident Irish Republicanism

(p.125) 8 Why Terrorist Campaigns Do Not End
Illusions of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

Richard English

British Academy

Within debates on how terrorism ends, political historians will want academic analysis to reflect the frequently unpredictable messiness of such processes. When terrorist groups desist, they often do so in ways that involve violent spillage across the historical line which broadly divides conflict from peace. This chapter focuses on one significant case study in terrorist persistence: dissident Irish republican violence in the wake of the decision by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) to end its own armed struggle. I will offer a brief account of dissident republican activity, and then explain such activity by situating it within a wider hermeneutical framework of nationalism as such. The central argument will be that we can only properly understand and appropriately respond to dissident Irish republican terrorism if we interpret it as a recognisable species of nationalist zealotry, with family resemblances to many other nationalisms throughout politics and history in Ireland and elsewhere. Such an account normalises dissident republicanism and explains its (to some observers, surprising) durability; it does not ignore the non-ideological motivations and dynamics of Irish dissidents; nor does it offer any legitimising framework for such ongoing violent republicanism.

Keywords:   terrorism, counter-terrorism, Northern Ireland, dissident Irish republicanism

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