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The Politics of Apology and the Prospects for ‘Post-conflict’ Reconciliation: The case of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement
journal contributionposted on 30.07.2020, 14:48 by Stephen Hopkins
This article analyses the Irish Provisional republican movement and the evolution of its approach to the politics of apology. The first section analyses recent scholarship regarding ‘political apologies’, and provides a challenge to the existing literature, which concentrates upon ‘official’ or state apologies, rather than examples involving non-state armed groups (paramilitary or ‘terrorist’ organisations). This section argues that it remains difficult to discern an adequate general model for establishing criteria for a ‘successful’ or ‘sincere’ political apology involving such groups. The second section considers a number of case studies, including the statements of the IRA in 2002, and after the Enniskillen bombing (1987). It is argued that the Provisional movement’s apologies have not generally proven helpful to its declared aim of post-conflict reconciliation. This article argues that attempted apologies or quasi-apologies by non-state groups may not ameliorate the sense of grievance experienced by victims/survivors, and may also serve to revivify social and political ‘framing battles’ over the past.