This article examines the discursive construction of legitimacy in the early phase of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The empirical material covers the debate on internment without trial from 1971 till 1975 – a debate which involved conflicting claims of legitimacy. Some strongly defended internment as a legitimate step in the fight against the IRA, whilst others regarded it as an illegitimate measure employed by a corrupt political regime. These conflicting claims of legitimacy entailed a conceptual battle concerned with the construction and authorisation of political order. The article explores this battle along three dimensions: law, violence, and democracy.

Author Bio(s)

Sissel Rosland is Norwegian Research Council post-doctoral fellow in History at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen, Norway. She is currently working on a research project called “Law and Democracy between Security and Liberty” comparing debates on counter-terrorism in the UK after the Guildford and Birmingham bombings in 1974 and the London bombing in 2005. E-mail: Sissel.Rosland@ahkr.uib.no.


democracy, law, legitimacy, Max Weber, Northern Ireland, political discourse, violence

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