Prisoners as Leaders of Political Change: Cage 11 and the Peace Process in Northern Ireland

  • Dieter ReinischEmail author


This chapter shows how Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners started a critical debate within and beyond the prison walls during the Northern Ireland conflict, thereby becoming leaders of a conflict transformation process. The IRA prisoners used their position to criticize the then leadership of the Irish republican movement for the failed truce of 1975/76, thereby igniting a debate in the wider republican movement outside the prisons by smuggling statements and articles out of the prisons. These articles originated in the “Cage 11” of the internment camp Long Kesh and became known as the “Brownie papers.” Following their release from prison, the authors used their status to reach influential positions in their movement and, in these positions, they supported the conflict transformation process. Thus, these Brownie papers were a watershed moment in challenging the old leadership and, thereby, laid the foundation for the future peace process in the 1990s. In essence, this chapter shows that the IRA prisoners were the leaders of a debate that ultimately turned the Irish republican movement from a militant nationalist movement determined of establishing the United Socialist Republic in the mid-1970s to a movement that supports the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and, today, embraces parliamentary politics.


Oral history Irish republicanism Prisoners Camps Northern Ireland Troubles 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Advanced StudyCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary

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