The Challenges of Policing in a Deeply Divided Society

  • Neil Southern


Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society. From 1969 to 1998 an ethnic conflict raged in the province. During this period there was a high level of terrorist activity. In 1976, the British government introduced a policy of police primacy which placed the RUC at the forefront of combating terrorism. This chapter explores the nature of ethnic terrorism and the challenges it poses to counter-terrorist agencies. It also touches upon the role which organisations played in the United States vis-à-vis support for the republican movement and the nationalist political vision. The problems which a bordering state—the Republic of Ireland—can cause counter-terrorist organisations are examined.


Deeply divided society Ethnic terrorism The Troubles Ethnic conflict United States Republic of Ireland Police primacy Londonderry Protest marches IRA 


  1. Addison, M. (2002). Violent Politics: Strategies of Internal Conflict. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (2004). The Role of Selective Moral Disengagement in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism. In F. Moghaddam & A. Marsella (Eds.), Understanding Terrorism: Psychological Roots, Consequences and Interventions (pp. 121–150). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BBC. (2001). Irish Criticise NI Border Controls. Available from
  4. BBC. (2007). Sinn Fein Votes to Support Police. Available from
  5. BBC. (2016). RUC Memorial Plaque: Stephen Martin Admits’ Mistakes Were Made. Available from
  6. Bew, P., Gibbon, P., & Patterson, H. (1979). The State in Northern Ireland 1921–72: Political Forces and Social Classes. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bruce, S. (1997). Victim Selection in Ethnic Conflict: Motives and Attitudes in Irish Republicanism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 9(1), 56–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Byman, D. (1998). The Logic of Ethnic Terrorism. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 21(2), 149–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byman, D. (2005). Passive Sponsors of Terrorism. Survival, 47(4), 117–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cameron Report. (1969). Disturbances in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  11. Canetti-Nisim, D., Eran Halperin, E., Sharvit, K., & Hobfoll, S. (2009). A New Stress-Based Model of Political Extremism: Personal Exposure to Terrorism, Psychological Distress, and Exclusionist Political Attitudes. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 53(3), 363–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coleraine Times. (2008). Forgotten massacre. Available from
  13. Collins, E. (1997). Killing Rage. London: Granta Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Crenshaw, M. (1981). The Causes of Terrorism. Comparative Politics, 13(4), 379–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dershowitz, A. (2002). Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dillon, M. (1990). The Dirty War. London: Arrow Books.Google Scholar
  17. Dingley, J. (1998). A Reply to White’s Non-sectarian Thesis of PIRA Targeting. Terrorism and Political Violence, 10(2), 106–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dingley, J. (2012). The IRA. Oxford: Praeger.Google Scholar
  19. Drake, C. (1998). The Role of Ideology in Terrorists’ Target Selection. Terrorism and Political Violence, 10(2), 53–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Duffy, T. (1991). The Law v. the IRA: The Effect of Extradition Between the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the United States in Combatting the IRA. Penn State International Law Review, 9(2), 293–337.Google Scholar
  21. Duffy, J. (2001). Rich Friends in New York. Available from
  22. Ellison, G., & Smyth, J. (2000). The Crowned Harp: Policing Northern Ireland. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  23. English, R. (2009). Terrorism: How to Respond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Finnegan, R. (2002). Irish-American Relations. In W. Crotty & D. Schmitt (Eds.), Ireland on the World Stage (pp. 95–110). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Friedland, N., & Merari, A. (1985). The Psychological Impact of Terrorism: A Double-Edged Sword. Political Psychology, 6(4), 591–604.Google Scholar
  26. Ganor, B., & Wernli, M. (2013, October). Terrorist Attacks Against Hospitals: Case Studies (Working Paper 25).Google Scholar
  27. Gocke, B. (1945). Morale in a Police Department. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 36(3), 215–219.Google Scholar
  28. Gove, M. (2000). The Price of Peace: An Analysis of British Policy in Northern Ireland, Centre for Policy Studies. London: Chameleon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Guelke, A. (1996). The United States, Irish Americans and the Northern Ireland Peace Process. International Affairs, 72(3), 521–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harrison, M. (1994). France and International Terrorism: Problem and Response. In D. Charters (Ed.), The Deadly Sin of Terrorism (pp. 103–136). London: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hayes, B., & McAllister, I. (2005). Public Support for Political Violence and Paramilitarism in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Terrorism and Political Violence, 17(4), 599–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hennessey, T. (2005). Northern Ireland: The Origins of the Troubles. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.Google Scholar
  33. Hersh, S. (2004, May 10). Torture at Abu Ghraib. The New Yorker. Available from
  34. Hewitt, C. (1981). Catholic Grievances, Catholic Nationalism and Violence in Northern Ireland During the Civil Rights Period: A Reconsideration. The British Journal of Sociology, 32(3), 362–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hutchinson, J., & Smith, A. (1995). Ethnicity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jebb, C., Liotta, P., Sherlock, T., & Beitler, R. (2006). The Fight for Legitimacy: Democracy vs. Terrorism. London: Praeger.Google Scholar
  37. Kennedy, E. (1973). Ulster is an International Issue. Foreign Policy, (11), 57–71. Google Scholar
  38. Kusch, F. (2004). Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  39. Los Angeles Times. (1991, November 3). IRA Bomb at Belfast Hospital Kills 2 Injures 10. Available from–11-03/news/mn-1584_1_hospital-kills-bomb.
  40. Lowe, W. (2002). The War Against the R.I.C: 1919–21. Eire-Ireland, 37(3–4), 79–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. MacLeod, A. (1991, November 6). British Grapple with IRA Move to Target Hospitals. Christian Science Monitor. Available from
  42. Matchett, W. (2016). Secret Victory: The Intelligence War That Beat the IRA. Lisburn: Hiskey Ltd.Google Scholar
  43. McCargo, B. (2001). No Regrets as a Catholic in the RUC. Available from
  44. McGrattan, C. (2015). The Stormont House Agreement and the New Politics of Storytelling in Northern Ireland. Parliamentary Affairs, 69(4), 928–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Monaghan, R. (2004). “An Imperfect Peace”: Paramilitary “Punishments” in Northern Ireland. Terrorism and Political Violence, 16(3), 439–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murphy, S. (1993). ‘I Don’t Support the Ira but…’ Semantic and Psychological Ambivalence. Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 82(327), 276–286.Google Scholar
  47. Murphy, J. (2013). Policing for Peace in Northern Ireland: Change, Conflict and Community Confidence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. News Letter. (2016). Declassified Files: Black Taxi Terror Links Halted Public Transport Privatisation. Available from
  49. O’Callaghan, M., & O’Donnell, C. (2006). The Northern Ireland Government, the ‘Paisleyite Movement’ and Ulster Unionism in 1966. Irish Political Studies, 21(2), 203–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. O’Mally, P. (2000). Northern Ireland and South Africa: Conflicts Without End, Guns Beyond Use. Fortnight, 386, 1–18. Google Scholar
  51. Ophuls, M. (1972). A Sense of Loss. Switzerland: Cinema X, Societe Suisse de Television.Google Scholar
  52. Patterson, H. (2012). The Border Security Problem and Anglo-Irish Relations 1970–1973. Contemporary British History, 26(2), 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Patterson, H. (2013a). The Provisional IRA, the Border, and Anglo-Irish relations During the Troubles. Small Wars and Insurgencies, 24(3), 493–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Patterson, H. (2013b). Ireland’s Violence Frontier: The Border and Anglo-Irish Relations During the Troubles. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Primoratz, I. (1997). The Morality of Terrorism. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 14(3), 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Prince, S. (2007). Northern Ireland’s ’68: Civil Rights, Global Revolt and the Origins of the Troubles. Dublin: Irish Academic Press.Google Scholar
  57. Prince, S. (2012). 5 October 1968 and the Beginning of the Troubles: Flashpoints, Riots and Memory. Irish Political Studies, 27(3), 394–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Richey, W. (1985, January 14). On the Trail of US Funds for IRA. Christian Science Monitor. Available from
  59. Ryder, C. (1986). Sir John and His Men: Tensions in a Critical Year. Fortnight, (234), 6–7. Google Scholar
  60. Ryder, C. (2000). The RUC 1922–2000: A Force Under Fire. London: Arrow.Google Scholar
  61. Sanchez-Cuenca, I. (2007). The Dynamics of Nationalist Terrorism: ETA and the IRA. Terrorism and Political Violence, 19(3), 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sanders, A. (2013). Operation Motorman (1972) and the Search for a Coherent British Counterinsurgency Strategy in Northern Ireland. Small Wars & Insurgencies, 24(3), 465–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Silke, A. (2016). Ferocious Times: The IRA, the RIC, and Britain’s Failure in 1919–1921. Terrorism and Political Violence, 28(3), 417–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Simpson, K. (2008). University of Ulster Human Rights Researcher Dr. Kirk Simpson Looks at Unionists and Their Perceptions of the La Mon Bombing. Available from
  65. Spratt, M. (2008). When Police Dogs Attacked: Iconic News Photographs and Construction of History, Mythology, and Political Discourse. American Journalism, 25(2), 85–105.Google Scholar
  66. Thompson, J. (2001). American Policy and Northern Ireland: A Saga of Peacebuilding. London: Praeger.Google Scholar
  67. Walzer, M. (1977). Just and Unjust Wars. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  68. White, R. (1997). The Irish Republican Army: An Assessment of Sectarianism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 9(1), 20–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. White, R. (1998). Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts: More on the Irish Republican Army and the Facts. Terrorism and Political Violence, 10(4), 164–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wolin, R. (2002). September 11 and the Self-Castigating Left. South Central Review, 19(2/3), 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Young, A., & Gray, D. (2011). Insurgency, Guerilla Warfare and Terrorism: Conflict and Its Application for the Future. Global Security Studies, 2(4), 65–76.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Sociology and PoliticsSheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK

Personalised recommendations