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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 7 Transformational discourses and warrior talk


We are on the road to freedom. If we go forward together, firmly united and in great numbers, we will complete our historic task – a united Ireland and a New Republic.1

A transformational vision has been a consistent feature of the Irish republican narrative for over 100 years, articulated as an independent Irish nation shaped by republican values. After the Easter Rising (1916) and subsequent partition of Ireland (1921) Irish republicans had clear goals to fight for: to remove the British government out of Northern Ireland and to end partition. Transformation meant the reunification of a nation divided by a border that republicans considered illegal and the creation of a new form of society that would address injustice and inequality. In short, republican transformational discourses are not a new phenomenon, but the manner in which Sinn Féin has developed them has changed.

Evidence from previous chapters concluded that republican core discourses, both ‘historical’ and ‘justification’,2 were used to promote and sustain the consistency and legitimacy of the republican cause. Warrior talk was a form of language used by republican leaders to unite and focus republicans on their vision of transforming Ireland. In Northern Ireland, republican warrior talk proved to be a powerful communication tool for all republicans irrespective of their political stance on the Good Friday Agreement (1998). Provisional republicans continue to use warrior talk at key events, annual rituals and funerals.

Provisional Sinn Féin started to develop a repertoire of...

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