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Sous les pavés … The Troubles

Northern Ireland, France and the European Collective Memory of 1968


Chris Reynolds

Recent studies on the impact of 1968 have focussed on transnational perspectives. The scope and nature of the rebellions go far beyond the stereotypical frameworks that have dominated traditional representations. As the diversity of this ‘year’ of revolt gains greater currency, the case of 1968 has emerged as a critical lens through which to examine the question of transnational collective memories. This book addresses the dominance of the French mai 68 in the way the events are remembered at a European level. Through a comparison with the French events, this study explores how the memory of Northern Ireland’s 1968 has been marginalised and argues a case for its inclusion on the list of countries that make up this Europe-wide period of revolt.
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← 186 | 187 → Conclusion


of the Troubles.1 The ceasefire of course did not come out of the blue but was in fact the culmination of a long series of behind the scenes negotiations that involved the British government, Sinn Fein, and Loyalist organisations.2 The violence, started in the late 1960s had, by the 1990s, become an all too familiar and seemingly irresolvable backdrop to Northern Irish life. The sectarian conflict had driven a huge divide between the communities and despite efforts on behalf of the British and Irish governments, there seemed to be no hope of bringing the murderous spiral to an end. In the run-up to the 1994 declaration, the situation had reached a particularly precarious stage. A series of tit-for-tat killings built to a crescendo resulting in two brutal attacks on either side of the divide. The Shankhill bombing of 23 October 1993 in which 8 Protestant civilians were killed was avenged one week later in what has become known as the Greysteel massacre.3 The possibility of putting an end to such dark days was inevitably welcomed by most with hope and optimism. However, no-one was under any illusions that the path to peace would be anything other than a long and difficult one…and so it has proved. Together with the unavoidable bitterness (generated by years of murder and conflict) and mistrust between communities, question marks over the motivations of both the British and Irish governments meant that the ‘peace process’ would take time, a lot of work and many highs...

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