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The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

Timothy Shanahan

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635290
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652884 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635290.001.0001
The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Is terrorism ever morally justified? How should historical and cultural factors be taken into account in judging the morality of terrorist acts? What are the ethical limits of state counter-terrorism? For three decades, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) waged an ‘armed struggle’ against what it considered to be the British occupation of Northern Ireland. To its supporters, the IRA was the legitimate army of Ireland, fighting to force a British withdrawal as a prelude to the re-unification of the Irish nation. To its enemies, it was an illegal, fanatical, terrorist organization whose members were criminals willing to sacrifice innocent lives in pursuit of its ideological obsession. At the centre of the conflict were the then-unconventional tactics employed by the IRA, including sectarian killings, political assassinations, and bombings, which devastated urban centres – tactics that have become increasingly commonplace in the post-9/11 world. This book is a philosophical examination of the morality of the IRA's violent campaign, and of the British government's attempts to end it.

Keywords: terrorism; morality; terrorist acts; state counter-terrorism; IRA; armed struggle; British occupation; Northern Ireland; legitimate army; British withdrawal

Book.  256 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: UK Politics

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Table of Contents

Prologue in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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The Meaning of August 1969: Calibrating the Standard Republican Narrative in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Blood Sacrifice and Destiny: Republican Metaphysics and the IRA's Armed Struggle in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Republicanism's Holy Grail: ‘One Nation United, Gaelic and Free’ in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Permission to Kill: Just War Theory and the IRA's Armed Struggle in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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‘Pointless Heartbreak Unrepaid’: Consequentialism and the IRA's Armed Struggle in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Violating the Inviolable: Human Rights and the IRA's Armed Struggle in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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‘Crime is Crime is Crime’: British Counter-Terrorism in Northern Ireland in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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When the Law Makers are the Law Breakers: State Terrorism in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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Epilogue in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

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