'The State of Loyalism in Northern Ireland'

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: School of Creative Arts Film and Media


This study will provide an essential source of information for those interested in the role that paramilitary loyalism has played in the Northern Ireland peace process. From the early stages of contacts, talks and negotiations, the work will provide a critical account of how conflict shifted towards conflict resolution and will look at the internal decisions, disputes, initiatives and strategies which loyalists developed towards peace politics. Importantly, there would have been no Good Friday Agreement without loyalists, yet their part in the peace process remains understated in comparison to republicanism. This work addresses that disparity.

Based on interview testimony from the key players within loyalism, as well as those in the British and Irish governments who interacted with them, this research will provide a comprehensive analysis of the dramas and crises which beset loyalists as the peace process swung from breakthrough to breakdown and back again. Highlighting the choreography of events and how loyalists perceive themselves now paramilitary violence has ended, this work will provide a definitive contemporary political account of a key moment in the history of Northern Ireland and will be a significant contribution to the literature which looks at the peace process and the resolution of conflict.

The work will appeal to a range of academic areas (politics, terrorism, conflict resolution, Irish affairs etc.), but, importantly seek to disseminate and communicate the results of this work to the widest possible audience. This research will be used by the British government's Northern Ireland Office and will be accessed by the Community Relations Council in Belfast, as well as cross-community groups such as Democratic Dialogue, Healing through Remembering and Mediation. I also intend to provide two public lectures in Belfast and Portsmouth and dedicate all produced work to the Linenhall Library's Political Collection in Belfast, where it will be available to the public as a research archive. The work, will not only be used nationally, but internationally, where it will go to conflict resolution bodies such as Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva and the European Peace and Reconciliation Support Programme (which has funded a range of research projects in Northern Ireland). Further, I shall try to publicise the material through websites such as CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet) in Northern Ireland and the University of Portsmouth website. Lastly, I will be submitting articles to the national press, and strive to publicise outcomes through Northern Ireland/Ireland's television and radio networks (where I have created a number of important links), as well as popular magazines such as History Today.


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