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Warrior Talk

A study of war, peace and politics

Sally Watson

«Warrior talk is defined as language, terms and metaphors associated with war and violence used in political discourses or appropriated into everyday settings to influence people and situations.»

Warrior Talk is part of the human experience in conflict situations at global, national and organizational levels and while the scale of conflict may vary, the language of war is a potent dynamic and key inhibitor of sustainable peace. A case study of the Northern Ireland peace process has been used as a background for research into Sinn Féin political discourses in the period 1969-2019. The findings indicate that republican warrior talk has evolved over five decades but continues to play a role in Sinn Féin politics. The implications of this research are applicable to other forms of conflict and particularly whether there has been protracted or intermittent episodes of violence.

This book will appeal to a varied audience: students, researchers and readers interested in peace building whether international or local. The style of the book will demystify the field of political discourse analysis and provide tools and resources to enrich the reader’s experience.

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Chapter 3 The Republican Code


The past emboldens the rebel in great matters.1

Irish republicanism has a long history of struggle with the British state that predates 1969 and the start of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The republican philosophical position has remained very clear and consistent with their demands for a united Ireland as well as an end to what they perceive as an illegal partition that was imposed by the British state in 1920. As the Northern Ireland peace process evolved, there were two key outcomes, the Good Friday Agreement (1998) and IRA decommissioning (2005), that signalled a major change in the traditional relationship between the republican movement and the British state. Fast forward to the current situation in Northern Ireland: the fact that it exists at all as a political entity indicates that a united Ireland has not been achieved. The peace process has brought greater political influence for republicans, but the British government is still in control.2

Two key principles have guided the republican movement in their ambitions for a united Ireland. The legitimacy of physical force to remove the British state from Ireland, and the concept of ‘abstention’, which is the refusal to recognize the British government as a legal entity within the island of Ireland. Both these principles represent deeply held convictions amongst republicans and are based on a long legacy of republican philosophy and ideology. This legacy is key to understanding the impact of the peace process on the republican movement and the continuing...

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