Permission to Kill: Just War Theory and the IRA's Armed Struggle

Timothy Shanahan

in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635290
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652884 | DOI:
Permission to Kill: Just War Theory and the IRA's Armed Struggle

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Can the IRA's armed struggle be morally justified according to traditional just war principles? In order to answer this question, this chapter looks at several preliminary questions. First, according to just war principles, under what conditions is the resort to war morally justified, and what are the conditions governing the morality of the conduct of war? Second, was the IRA's armed struggle accurately described as war? Third, to what extent can the IRA's campaign be morally justified according to the criteria of Just War Theory? This chapter argues that although the IRA's armed struggle, at least in some of its phases, can reasonably be described as war, it fails to satisfy key conditions both for the just initiation of war and for the just conduct of war. Despite the IRA's claims to the contrary, its armed struggle was not justified according to the principles of Just War Theory.

Keywords: moral justification; IRA; just war principles; Just War Theory; war conduct

Chapter.  11357 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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