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Therefore, a theoretical explanation towards the terrorism in Northern Ireland may not follow the same patterns as global terrorism or other forms of terrorism. There is thus need to establish an explanation based on a sound theoretical basis which informs the need for this study. A brief background on the problem - terrorism in Northern Ireland - will be followed by a discussion of the terrorism based on a cultural perspective. Constructed on the view that political and sectarian perspectives, based on Catholicism and Protestantism, have been exploited by terrorists to perpetrate their activities, this study is guided by the thesis that a cultural perspective can best explain the terrorism in Northern Ireland.
According to Archick (6), although nationalism in Ireland is historical, contemporary violence and accompanied terrorism can be traced back to the 1921 division of Ireland which resulted in an independent Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom. Murchu (383) states that sectarian ethno-religious causes were the main drivers of riots in Belfast. Rubin and Rubin (61) explain that after the first phase of fighting (before, during and after the separation), a second phase occurred between the nationalists who accepted compromise with Britain and the radicals who rejected this. While eventually the moderates would prevail, elements of radicalism were preserved through the Irish Republican Army which is responsible for a number of terrorist attacks over several decades. Important to this study is the third era of terror in Northern Ireland, which began in the mid 1960s and depicted contemporary violence in Northern Ireland. This was basically between the Protestants who strongly favored ties with Britain and Catholics who were against this (Rubin and Rubin 61). The initial grievances (equal rights for the minority Catholics) were quickly hijacked by Irish nationalism issues with both sides forming militias. Archick (1) states that there have been over 3500 deaths in Northern Ireland since 1969 that are associated to the just described militia activities. Although there has been considerable peace in Northern Ireland since the 1990s especially after political power-sharing agreements between the Protestants and the Catholics, terrorist attacks in 2009 at the Massereene army base in Antrim indicate the volatility that still pervades (Coll). Role of Sectarianism in Terrorism in Northern Ireland: Although a number of perspectives can be used to describe the terrorism in Northern Ireland including economic considerations and political/nationalistic tendencies, it is discernible that all these descend to expression through religious permutations. Terrorism can be viewed as an act of deviance explainable through a cultural perspective framework. As Adler and Adler (47) argue deviance is a collective act that is driven and carried out by groups of people who exist in dominant or subordinate situations and have conflicting interests including on social, religious, political, economic and ethnic fronts amongst others. In such cases, membership into these groups places individuals in distinct sub-cultures with a given set of values and norms that effectively differentiate them from another group, usually a nemesis. This grouping of people in society provides the basis of the cultural perspective. It is evident that the society of Northern Ireland is grouped into two main divisions in this case on a religious basis i.e. the Catholics and Protestants. Therefore, one of the main elements of the cultural
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“Reasons for Terrorism in Northern Ireland: A Cultural Perspective Research Paper”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1393512-reasons-for-terrorism-in-northern-ireland-using-a.
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