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Janus-faced Social Movements: Factors that Influence the Choice of Non-violent over Violent Tactics in Political Movements
Unformatted Document Text:  support for militancy—viewing it as inappropriate yet effective—compared to the even lower support in Republic populations (Burgess et al. 2007). Therefore, by attempting to gain support in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as a whole, the IRA was placed under strict control in order to seem to distance itself from violence and gain popular support. Of the multiple factors competing to influence the IRA tactical choice, its two decade involvement in electoral politics arguably provided the strongest incentive for the IRA to mediate its tactics in order to make Sinn Fein more attractive to the broad range of Irish on the path to national independence. ii. deterrence During the Irish war of independence (1919-21), British forces, including Crown Forces, were greatly expanded in Ireland, providing the capability for later repression. With the 1922 Northern Ireland Special Powers act, the full brunt of British repression began. This is not to say that violence by the British forces and those representing British interests was not reciprocated with systematic ostracism, violence and harassment. Clearly both sides fought, as in every case described herein. In fact, attempts to inflict unacceptable damages outweighing the benefits of engagement was the mainstay of IRA actions following the early 1920’s. However, the British were a more powerful opponent with vast reservoirs of knowledge for dealing with revolting colonial subjects. Assassinations and large-scale imprisonment began at this time and specifically in 1971, imprisonment without trial became common (MAR 2008). The scope and degree of civilian repression intensified—including violence and intimidation—particularly following the 1922 Special Powers Act and around the debate over the newly partitioned state (English 2003). What was often viewed as exaggerated responses to activity in Northern Ireland—for example the “Bloody Sunday” police shooting deaths of 14 purportedly peaceful, unarmed protesters—prompted 34

Authors: Graham, Leah.
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support for militancy—viewing it as inappropriate yet effective—compared to the even lower
support in Republic populations (Burgess et al. 2007). Therefore, by attempting to gain support in
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as a whole, the IRA was placed under strict control in
order to seem to distance itself from violence and gain popular support.
Of the multiple factors competing to influence the IRA tactical choice, its two decade
involvement in electoral politics arguably provided the strongest incentive for the IRA to mediate
its tactics in order to make Sinn Fein more attractive to the broad range of Irish on the path to
national independence.
ii. deterrence
During the Irish war of independence (1919-21), British forces, including Crown Forces,
were greatly expanded in Ireland, providing the capability for later repression. With the 1922
Northern Ireland Special Powers act, the full brunt of British repression began. This is not to say
that violence by the British forces and those representing British interests was not reciprocated with
systematic ostracism, violence and harassment. Clearly both sides fought, as in every case
described herein. In fact, attempts to inflict unacceptable damages outweighing the benefits of
engagement was the mainstay of IRA actions following the early 1920’s. However, the British
were a more powerful opponent with vast reservoirs of knowledge for dealing with revolting
colonial subjects. Assassinations and large-scale imprisonment began at this time and specifically
in 1971, imprisonment without trial became common (MAR 2008). The scope and degree of
civilian repression intensified—including violence and intimidation—particularly following the
1922 Special Powers Act and around the debate over the newly partitioned state (English 2003).
What was often viewed as exaggerated responses to activity in Northern Ireland—for example the
“Bloody Sunday” police shooting deaths of 14 purportedly peaceful, unarmed protesters—prompted
34


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