WINSTANLEY, Katie (2007): «Constructing identities: paramilitary disarmament and ceasefire in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country», Canadian Political Science Association Conference. Saskatoon.
Spain and Northern Ireland have remained as anomalies in the democratic world given the failure to contain the violence that has been associated with nationalist movements in these areas. However, recent events have dramatically altered the extent to which systemic violence will continue to characterize these areas. Given that the Irish Republican Army (IRA), has recently disarmed, and that Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) has declared a permanent (albeit precarious) ceasefire, the prospects for change in these areas is greater than it has been arguably at anytime in history. The people associated with nationalist movements in both places appear to have come to the understanding that violence can not have the impact that meaningful participation in the democratic process can. This paper will explore the conditions which lead to the disarmament and ceasefire declarations of these paramilitary groups. This will be done through an analysis of the ways in which national and ethnic identities are constructed, maintained and reinforced. I will explore how the traditional narratives associated with violence may now be disregarded or altered in order to construct identities which are more in line with the current trajectory of the peace process in these areas. I will argue that the disarmament and ceasefire declaration is a symptom of a wider movement toward the peaceful reconciliation of ethnic and national conflict in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country.
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