Containment: Northern Ireland’s major purpose and raison d’être?

Some really interesting ideas in this lecture at the University of Ulster, with Duncan Morrow. It kicks off with a potted history of the origins of the conflict. He describes the public policy response firstly, via the original devolution of parliament to Stormont and latterly in its response to the civil unrest of 1969-1970, under the uber heading of ‘Containment’.

He references work by Maire Smyth which outlines three defineable groups of casualities: poor urban communities; a wider geographical community comprising band that runs from Magherafelt down to Armagh and then along the border; and the securitiy forces. The major policy response is to ‘contain’ the troubles to these three groups.

The result is, he argues, that the rest of society are isolated from these groups and there is from this time a failing element of civil engagement from the rest of Northern Irish society. “The deal is that if you keep me and the middle class safe, I’m not going to ask what you’re doing in the ghetto.

It raises too the issue of how the current incumbent parties which were at least originally close to all three of these areas handle larger issues of policy.

You can pick up the short remainder here in Part 2, where Girdwood gets a mention as a side reference to the ‘containment’ theme…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty