The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland

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Service delivery in the late s and early s was substantially disrupted by a collapse of civil authority and policing; social workers were often left to reinterpret agency guidelines and negotiate with paramilitary groups in order to access areas in which their clients lived. Pinkerton and Campbell have reflected upon the social work response to this early period of violence of the Troubles.

Their argument is that social workers found it understandably safer, even rational, to maintain a neutral, apolitical approach to their work. Significantly, by , the London government assumed responsibility for the local Northern Irish parliament and imposed an integrated system of health and social care which was largely unaccountable to local politicians and communities. As a consequence, the agencies in which social workers were often employed tended to reinforce such attitudes.

The leitmotiv of the time was to remain silent, to accept neutrality as a norm and to avoid conflict with colleagues and clients Campbell and Healy Everyday practice experiences necessarily mirrored the social conditions of the time, whether this was in terms of dealing with the effects of large scale civil and political violence Campbell and McCrystal or to accept the sectarian boundaries which determined service delivery Traynor Despite attempts to develop new strategies in social work education and training Smyth and Campbell , attitudinal change amongst agencies and practitioners has been slow, probably reflecting the pace of change in wider society.

Up to now, this paper has painted, some would say, a pessimistic picture about the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the role that social work has played in it during the last three decades. Yet to generalize about this history would be to miss the point that in any political or social context contradictions emerge which allow for freedom of individual and collective decision-making Pinkerton Even in the darkest times in the s and s, when practitioners were faced with harrowing and traumatic situations, sometimes attempts were made to challenge sectarianism, collectively through the trade union movement or by individual decisions made by social workers and team members.

A range of circumstances can determine when and where such space opens up to allow such decisions to be made. These opportunities are dependent, for instance, on the type and purpose of agencies in which social workers are employed. For example, a perception exists that the voluntary and community sectors are more likely to have policies and practices in place to enable anti-sectarian skills and strategies to be employed Brewer ; this may be contrasted with the state sector which, traditionally has not been well equipped to deal with wider community politics.

These positive changes to practice are of course made more possible if and when a society can deal with the underlying conditions which create conflict, and a case can be made that this has been happening in Northern Ireland over the last decade. The momentum for these changes in social work training and practice has, at least partly, been created by a period of conflict resolution which dates back to the late s, culminating in paramilitary cease-fires in and the Belfast Agreement of Nearly a decade later the signs are that a locally devolved power sharing administration will practically and symbolically demonstrate reparation between the parties to the conflict, and social workers can have a part to play in the healing process.

In recent years the increased interest by politicians and communities in seeking ways to help those most traumatized by political violence has challenged social workers to find new ways of helping individuals and communities. This is a critical issue which faces many societies who have experienced such conflict and are in transitions to more peaceful circumstances Hamber and Wilson On the other hand most felt that they had appropriate skills to deal with the aftermath of traumatic events.

Such experiences are important when considering the context of new policy initiatives designed to deal with unmet need caused by the Troubles. Although these changes do present many opportunities for new forms of practice, it is not clear how well professionals, including social workers, are equipped to deal with such a wide range of social and psychological problems which have followed thirty years of political violence, let alone whether they have the capacity to address their own painful thoughts and memories of the past Reilly ; Rice and Kapur There are, however, signs that the profession is reconsidering its role in dealing with the traumatic effects of longstanding political violence and sectarianism.

Of particular note are the number of specialist, community base projects have been funded to deliver a range of services and psychotherapeutic approaches in which social workers are well established. Thus professionals have been involved in working with school children traumatized by sectarian conflict at interface areas in Belfast and elsewhere Stewart and Thompson A well established unit uses family therapy techniques to deal with Troubles related trauma Reilly et al and a range of post trauma techniques have been used following major incidents Gillespie et al ; Gibson and Iwaniec It is important also to note other aspects of this changing political and policy landscape which implies a retreat from the bureaucratized approach of earlier decades towards a greater sense of engagement by professionals with the communities who have suffered most disadvantages because of political violence.

Pinkerton and Campbell highlight the need for social workers to grasp these opportunities and be more willing to consider community development approaches, which may be just as effective as individualized therapeutic interventions for many groups and communities. The message is that social workers in Northern Ireland appear to possess a broad skills base which can address such problems in holistic ways, but there are doubts about the willing to critically review the social and political causes of the conflict and examine their role in challenging the discrimination which flowed from it.

A number of authors have argued that the conflict in Northern Ireland needs to be understood in terms of other international conflicts Smyth and Robinson ; McGarry Conversely a question which can be posed in the context of this paper is whether this account of the way social workers experience, and seek to deal with, the sequelae of political violence in Northern Ireland has any resonance for those working in other troubled regions in Europe and elsewhere in the world Ramon et al Throughout the history of European social work, from its early beginnings in the nineteenth century to current preoccupations about terrorism and state violence in the twenty first century, individual social workers and their organizations have had to deal with the consequences of world wars, regional conflicts and local insurgencies.

Usually this has taken place unnoticed and unheralded. Some of these conflicts have a long history — for example national and ethnic disputes in South Tyrol, the Basque country and the former Yugoslavia. The more recent prospect of large scale economic and political migration, from east to western Europe and from the southern to the northern hemispheres often create the conditions for conflict, particularly if states and their agencies are not equipped to understand the needs and aspirations of new citizens.

It does seem rather curious therefore that a wide ranging literature on social work organization and practice is dedicated to other related social problems such as domestic violence and crime, whilst not dealing adequately with the impact of political change and conflict which the profession needs to address. Perhaps we can learn from the examples of research and practice which tend to be focused on zones of conflict outside the European continent - particularly in Latin America, the middle east and sub-Saharan Africa.

More recently north American academics in particular have begun to explore the ways in which social workers might deal with the traumatic aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Centre in September It may be that assuming a neutral, technocratic position can be effective in some of these contexts Sveaass What appears to be missing in many analyses of the social work role in situations of conflict, however, is an acceptance of the need to consider this role in the context of wider social political and historical processes, however difficult a proposition that might be.

The avoidance of such issues may exacerbate and prolong the conflict which creates the problems which social workers are expected to alleviate and solve. Shamai and Bohem illustrate this point by reference to the peace process in the Middle East, with particular reference to Israel:. Social workers are usually not perceived as responsible for national political decisions, nor are they perceived as having any influence on them.

Therefore, the subject is barely discussed between social workers and clients, among social workers or in social work literature. In some situations of political and ethnic conflict, particularly where there is suspicion about the purpose of the intervention and the identity of the professional, a neutral approach can in fact be dangerous and counterproductive Jones, It is sometimes a comfortable place to be, to view these problems as outside the mainstream of everyday practice in many European countries. A perception might exist that, at least since the second World War in Europe, nation states have managed to avoid the major political conflagrations which affect other parts of the world.

It might be also be argued that, in some ways the case study of Northern Ireland, or the former Yugoslavia, appear an exception to this rule — age old conflicts which have their roots in a past, conflicts which have long been resolved elsewhere in Europe. Of course the shifts in world politics in recent decades has challenged this complacency, whether this has to do with the collapse of the eastern bloc and the disintegration and reforming of communities and nations, the expansion of the European Union and the loss of confidence in world order following the attack on the World Trade Center.

If anything, social work has a greater task at hand, to understand the interaction of international, national and local domains Houston and Campbell in the creation of, and solutions to, problems created by political violence. This requires a synthesis of views about the construction of our own identities and the historical, political and social which inform practice judgements. It is only then can we fully engage with clients who have been harmed by political violence. Bew, P. London: Serif. Brewer, J. Campbell, J. Darby, J. London: Heinemann. Fay, M. London: Pluto.

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    New York: Guilford. Rice, C. Religion, culture and the bardic elite in early modern Ireland Marc Caball; 8. Sectarianism: division and dissent in Irish Catholicism Brian Jackson; Concluding reflection: confronting violence of the Irish reformations John Morrill. Du kanske gillar. Permanent Record Edward Snowden Inbunden.

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    Northern Ireland's Troubles - Walls of Shame

    Ireland is riven by sectarian hatred. This simple assumption provides a powerful explanation for the bitterness and violence which has so dominated Irish history. Most notably, the troubles in Northern Ireland have provided fertile ground for scholars from all disciplines to argue about and explore ways in which religious division fueled the descent into hostility and disorder.

    In much of this literature, however, sectarianism is seen as, somehow, a 'given' in Irish history, an inevitable product of the clash of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, something which sprang fully formed into existence in the sixteenth century. In this book leading historians provide a detailed analysis of the ways in which rival confessions were developed in early modern Ireland, the extent to which the Irish people were indeed divided into two religious camps by the mid-seventeenth century, and also their surprising ability to transcend such stark divisions.

    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland
    The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland The Origins of Sectarianism in Early Modern Ireland

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