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‘Learning from the Past or Laundering History? Consociational Narratives and State Intervention in Northern Ireland’ / Cillian McGrattan

British Politics, Volume: 5, Issue: 1, Pages: 92 - 113

Swansea University Author: Cillian, McGrattan

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DOI (Published version): 10.1057/bp.2009.21

Abstract

successive British governments gradually learned how to manage the ethnic divisions, and encourage power sharing. This article examines recently released archival material from the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan (1974–1979) that reveal that the reality was much more subtle. It argues tha...

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Published in: British Politics
Published: 2010
Online Access: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/bp/journal/v5/n1/full/bp200921a.html
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa13479
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Abstract: successive British governments gradually learned how to manage the ethnic divisions, and encourage power sharing. This article examines recently released archival material from the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan (1974–1979) that reveal that the reality was much more subtle. It argues that owing to an essentially teleological approach, the consociational policy learning narrative distorts the complicated dynamics of British state intervention in Northern Ireland. In fact, rather than an overarching vision of conflict management, government policymaking was based on a multiplicity of voices and options. Not only did Labour inherit policy legacies from the previous Conservative government, but also the continued ambiguity in state intervention was itself self-reinforcing and effectively contributed to the entrenchment of inter-communal division. The article concludes by highlighting a fundamental implication of the consociational approach – namely, that it serves to recycle dominant understandings of the Northern Ireland conflict regardless of the historical record.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 92
End Page: 113