The debate concerning ideology and ideological shifts during peace-building in Northern Ireland has generally failed to account for the attitudes and opinions of former combatants concerning the nature and meaning of discursively constructed identities and political strategies. This invisibility is peculiar in that debates concerning ideological shifts have been driven by academic analysis or by those former combatants who maintain that the Irish peace process is paralleled by core ideological abandonment. The material presented within this article indicates that former Provisional Irish Republican prisoners do not view the peace process as involving ideological ditching but instead that their commitment to republican discourse remains complete.

Author Bio(s)

Peter Shirlow is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Queen‟s University Belfast. Most of Dr Shirlow‟s work has been dedicated to analysing republican and loyalist violence and he is a leading expert on segregated communities throughout Northern Ireland. Dr Shirlow has edited two books (Who are the People? and Development Ireland) and co-authored (with Brendan Murtagh) Belfast: Segregation, Violence and the City (Pluto Press, 2006) as well as publishing in a range of international journals and working on various major projects on the transition out of violence in Northern Ireland. Email: p.shirlow@qub.ac.uk.

Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool. He is Chair of the Youth Citizenship Commission and President of the UK Political Studies Association. Professor Tonge completed Leverhulme and ESRC projects on the Northern Ireland conflict in 2008. Recent books include Northern Ireland (Polity, 2006); The New Northern Irish Politics (Palgrave 2005) and Sinn Fein and the SDLP (Hurst/O‟Brien 2005, with Gerard Murray). Recent articles include items in Political Psychology, Political Studies, Electoral Studies, Party Politics and Terrorism and Political Violence. Email: J.Tonge@liverpool.ac.uk.

James W. McAuley is Professor of Political Sociology and Irish Studies in the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield. He completed two major projects on Orangeism (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) and former paramilitaries (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) in Northern Ireland in 2008. He is the author of An Introduction to Politics, State and Society (Sage, 2003) and an acknowledged expert on unionism and loyalism in Northern Ireland, having published widely in this field. E-mail: j.w.mcauley@hud.ac.uk.


Northern Ireland, peacebuilding, peace process, Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, Republican ideology

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