Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte
Chapter 3: Northern Ireland: Communal Division and the Embedding of Paramilitary Networks
Adrian Guelke During the course of 2007, the final pieces of the Northern Ireland peace puzzle appeared to fall into place, with the commitments by the representatives of the most important of the province’s violent organizations to a completely peaceful future and their acceptance of the normal policing of the society. But questions still remained as to how and whether this would work out in practice. Events since the devolution of power on 8 May 2007 present a mixed picture of the prospects for the new dispensation. For five months during 2008, the Northern Ireland Executive failed to meet because of disagreement between the two main parties over the agenda for such meetings. There was a major security crisis in March 2009, with the first killings of members of the security forces for more than a decade. A political challenge also emerged to the settlement in the form of a new political party, Traditional Unionist Voice, which was opposed to the inclusion of Republicans within the government of Northern Ireland. But the peace process was also boosted by the solidarity shown by the political parties in the face of the security crisis in March 2009 and by the subsequent decommissioning of weapons by Loyalist paramilitary organizations in June 2009. The manner in which the representatives of Northern Ireland’s two largest terrorist groupings announced the winding up of their activities appeared to epitomize fundamental differences in their organization. Thus, in the case of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), the whole...
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