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From “former comrades” to “near enemy”: the narrative template of “armed struggle” and conflicting discourses on Violent Dissident Irish Republican activity (VDR)


Journal abstract

Critical Studies on TerrorismThis article critically evaluates how competing discourses on what has been labelled Violent Dissident Republican activity (VDR) can be mapped onto pre-existing narrative templates on “armed struggle” that have featured in internal Irish republican politicking for generations. As such, this article conducts an in-depth dissection of how competing narratives on the utility of VDR, the scale of and support for VDR, and the underlying motivations behind it have drawn neatly from pre-existing scripts adroitly constructed during many of the previous splits within that constituency. In looking beyond the mere rhetorical value of respective discourses, it interrogates the political value in adapting past narratives for present consumption in an increasingly fragmented constituency where the gulf between the pragmatic and the pure has immeasurably widened in recent years. Drawing out narratives of pragmatism and purity, of the “micro-group”, “felon setting” and the “near enemy”, the article establishes how these narratives are vitally important to the parent group as it tries to maintain its dominance while embracing constitutional politics and, equally vital to the breakaway group, as it seeks to justify its very existence in a rapidly changing political context where there is ever-decreasing communal appetite for “armed struggle”.

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