Abandoning historical conflict?

Former political prisoners and reconciliation in Northern Ireland

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

Abandoning historical conflict?


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8011-1
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2010
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Northern Ireland, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Comparative politics, European history, Ireland, Politics, International Relations


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?

Based on a Leverhulme Trust project and written by an expert team, the book offers a new analysis, based on subtle interplays of military, political, economic and personal changes and experiences. Combined, these allowed combatants to move from violence to peace whilst retaining core ideological beliefs and maintaining long-term constitutional visions.


The book focuses on the role of former Northern Ireland republican and loyalist prisoners in conflict transformation and the significance of the repudiation or maintenance of the prisoners' previously held views. Shirlow et al.'s findings greatly complement the work in terrorism studies in so far as they advance the debate. Shirlow et al. convincingly show that ideological considerations are virtually irrelevant in disengagement.



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


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

Abandoning historical conflict?

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

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

Paperback £16.99 / $24.95

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