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Matthew Okot

Supervisors: Prof Richard English and Prof Graham Walker

Thesis: British policy-making in Northern Ireland

The subject of this thesis is a detailed study of British policy-making in Northern Ireland.  I will be covering the period from 1976 to 1985.  My primary area is the issue of security and I will be seeking to find out how much this was the lodestar of British policy-making in this period.  I am interested in looking at what motivated the British government from primarily constitutional concerns in the early 1970s to security initiatives by the end of the decade.  The role of key individuals in this period will be studied.  I will be looking at Roy Mason and seeing how far his robust approach towards security was determined by personal conviction and how much of his approach was dictated by external limitations.  Despite being personally associated with a stringent security policy, how far was Mason directing policy and how much was he reacting to events?  Following on from this, I will be examining the policies of Margaret Thatcher’s government in Northern Ireland.  Specifically I am interested in why her government apparently shifted from a bipartisan approach to pursuing a series of political initiatives, including, crucially, a revival of the Anglo-Irish relationship.  During the course of the research, I will be looking at the significance of various outside pressures on British policy-making, such as the attitudes of Northern Ireland’s political parties, the role of the Irish-American lobby, as well as the impact of various events, such as the H-Block hunger strikes, terrorist attacks and general elections.

Research interests
20th century British and Irish political history