Abandoning historical conflict?

Former political prisoners and reconciliation in Northern Ireland

By Peter Shirlow, Jon Tonge, James McAuley and Catherine McGlynn

Abandoning historical conflict?


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8744-8
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: June 2012
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, International Relations, Politics, Peace studies & conflict resolution, Comparative politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Peace


Drawing on over 150 interviews with former IRA, INLA, UVF and UFF prisoners, this is a major analysis of why Northern Ireland has seen a transition from war to peace. Most accounts of the peace process are 'top-down', relying upon the views of political elites. This book is 'bottom-up', analysing the voices of those who actually 'fought the war'. What made them fight, why did they stop and what are the lessons for other conflict zones? Using unrivalled access to members of the armed groups, the book, available for the first time in paperback, offers a critical appraisal of one-dimensional accounts of the onset of peace, grounded in 'mutually hurting stalemate' and 'ripeness', which downgrade the political and economic aspects of conflict. Military stalemate had been evident since the early 1970s and offers little in explaining the timing of the peace process. Moreover, republicans and loyalists based their ceasefires upon very different perceptions of transformation or victory. Based on a Leverhulme Trust project and written by an expert team, Abandoning Conflict offers a new analysis, based on subtle interplays of military, political, economic and personal changes and experiences.


Peter Shirlow is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast

Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool

James McAuley is Professor of Sociology and Irish Studies at the University of Huddersfield

Catherine McGlyn is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Huddersfield



PSAI (Political Studies Association Ireland) Brian Farrell best book prize winner


1. Politically motivated prisoners in Northern Ireland
2. Former prisoners in a global context
3. Political views and understandings
4. Imprisonment, ideological development and change
5. Political and tactical change among former prisoners
6. Conflict transformation and perceptions of the 'other'
7. Former prisoners and societal reconstruction

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