Write A Critical Survey Of A Historiographical Debate Relating To The Topic Of Your Special Study Dissertation

2621 words - 11 pages

The Troubles is the name for the conflict surrounding Northern Ireland during the 1960’s to 1998. Although the Good Friday Agreement brought the Troubles to an end, outbreaks of violence have continued to be seen. Opposed sectarian groups who both wanted a different constitutional status for Northern Ireland fought the political conflict. Unionists and Loyalists wanted to remain with United Kingdom whilst Republicans and Nationalists wanted to join with the South to form a united Ireland. For the last 70 years in Ireland an ever-changing historiographical debate has come about concerning the Troubles. Divides in Ireland are due to past conflicts but also current ones, the people of Ireland ...view middle of the document...

When writing Irish history historians should use a scientific approach, as one-sided approaches are constantly been criticised and deemed unreliable. Thomas Hennessey’s ‘In Northern Ireland: The Origins of the Troubles’ is an example of a biased and anti- nationalist approach in Irish historiography. It highlights the main problems with Irish historiography as historians, Hennessey included, often use a select range of sources to present a one-sided argument, resulting in blaming certain sectarian groups for the conflict. Hennessey’s use of limited sources contradicts his statement in the introduction, “the archives have been open and we have the opportunity to examine the decisions that helped shape the origins of the Troubles,” although he recognises that the archives are open, allowing him to have a broader perspective, he instead chooses a narrow range of sources mainly coming from the Belfast Telegraph. “The left wing agitators of Derry might protest about the oppressive nature of the Orange state but it was they who unleashed the forces of sectarian violence.” Hennessey blames the Troubles and the violence on those who challenged the authoritarian power; ultimately he blames the whole conflict on the Republicans. His select range and selective wording of the sources he uses helps to emphasise this viewpoint, his Unionist sources point to the false fact the Republicans took control and manipulated the whole Irish Civil Rights movement. He shows no sympathy for the nationalist situation and often joins in the persecution of Catholics by claiming that their discrimination was a myth. The Loyalist voice is heard right throughout his book, using only Loyalist sources to prosecute the IRA for many offences, and only the memoir of the Irish nationalist, Paddy Doherty, is used to describe the whole nationalist experience during the Troubles. Hennessey’s work is a falsehood, only adding to the number of unreliable pieces of literature on the Troubles. If he had used the archives, which had been available, his book would have resulted in valid historiography instead of anti-nationalist myth, which gives no justice to those who experienced the Troubles.

Historians are more vital in post conflict societies as they have to examine the new identities that are created and question the previous historiography. Historians have to analyse policies paying extra attention to those government reforms which bring about social repercussions. This is starting to happen in Northern Ireland as previous historiography is beginning to be examined by new theories and previous archival evidence. The revisionist debate goes on for a long time in Irish historical writing, and there is lots of revisionism in Irish historiography as from 1960 it was the main approach used, the Troubles revisionism is mainly concentrated on the issue of identity. The main problem historians have with revisionism is that it tries to normalise events. Sometimes this is good,...

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