Friday, 26 July 2013

Making Sense of the Troubles - David McKittrick and David McVea

Title: Making Sense of the Troubles
Author: David McKittrick and David McVea
ISBN: 978-0-14-100305-4
Pages: 352
Publisher: Penguin Publishing

                Northern Ireland has, for the most part, emerged from the dark period known as “The Troubles”. While tension between Catholics and Protestants, Irish and English still exist, it has been subsumed by the, albeit imperfect, political process as opposed to the way of the gun. What is still unknown to many however, is the history behind the challenges of Northern Ireland. McKittrick and McVea have drafted a detailed synopsis of the events, decisions and legal and ethical drama that became the hallmark of the Irish story.

                Starting with the creation of the Irish Republic in 1922, they trace the regional political turmoil that saw a most convoluted interaction between the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the Loyalist and Republican factions in the north. The detailed analysis outlining the methods with which the Loyalists held onto power (and why), the decision of London not to intervene despite their clear oversight role (thereby enabling the Loyalist leaders to carry on despite blatant inequality against the Republican Catholics) provides an outstanding macro level overview of the conditions leading up the breakout of hostilities in 1969.

                Following the commencement of hostilities from extremist factions of both the Republican and Loyalist side, the authors trace the involvement of London and Dublin, initially politically and finally on both (for the UK) the political and military fronts, as they are drawn inexorably into the worsening situation. The reader is then led through the seemingly insurmountable obstacles facing the parties as they grapple with the deepening crisis of the 1970’s and 80’s until, ultimately, fatigue, necessity and reality combine to gradually  draw the factions to initial common ground with the Good Friday Accord in 1998. This was not the end of the Northern Irish story as low level violence and political conflict continued; it marked however, the beginning of the end of the violence and the start of the reconciliation of all partied involved.

                The book is an extremely balanced rendition of the problem of Northern Ireland. No parties involved were completely innocent or guilty and the challenge to the authors was to present what had occurred in a manner easily followed by the reader and in such a way that resulting opinion would be based on fact and not popular myth. McKittrick and McVea are outstandingly successful in their efforts in this regard. Additionally, they provide a very helpful timeline/synopsis of the significant events in Northern Irish history as well as charts and graphs that clearly lay out the ebb and flow of the violence. Another strength of this work is the bibliographical insert that provides the reader with additional reference material.

                Overall, a great success for McKittrick and McVea. The Gordian Knot that was the Northern Irish peace process is presented in an even and fair manner consistent with the high standards of journalism and education that the authors have maintained over years of observing the activities of the North. Very highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment