‘Crime is Crime is Crime’: British Counter-Terrorism in Northern Ireland

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:
‘Crime is Crime is Crime’: British Counter-Terrorism in Northern Ireland

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It is a truism that counter-terrorism activities can cause harm greater than the terrorism they are intended to combat; yet such activities frequently proceed without their agents engaging in detailed reflection on the morality of the policies or practices pursued. An examination of the morality of IRA terrorism ideally should include an examination of the morality of British counterterrorism as well. This chapter has two aims. First, it surveys British counter-terrorism policies and practices in Northern Ireland, distinguishing among activities authorised by counter-terrorism legislation (internment without trial), those that clearly go beyond anything authorised in legislation (alleged shoot-to-kill executions) and those that exist in the grey area in between (methods of interrogation alleged to involve torture). Second, recalling that the domains of the legal and of the moral typically overlap but are not coextensive, the chapter provides a moral evaluation of a subset of these activities.

Keywords: counter-terrorism; moral evaluation; Northern Ireland; IRA terrorism; morality

Chapter.  10505 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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