Oct - Nov 2017 News

Queen’s academics to present research on the conflict in NI to Scuola Normale Superiore

Dr Katy Hayward and Dr Peter McLoughlin from the Mitchell Institute have been invited to present papers on their research into the conflict in Northern Ireland at the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) in Florence, Italy on 7 November.

Dr Hayward will be presenting a paper entitled ‘Visibility and Violence: Insights from managing contentious events in Belfast.’ The research behind this paper, co-authored with Dr Milena Komarova, originates in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State. It considers lessons to be learned from the management of contentious parades, protests and commemorations in Belfast.

“When thinking about how to make parades less contentious, people tend to concentrate on the timing of the events or on their precise location,” said Dr Hayward.

“Our research has found that it is better to understand parades and protests as a quest for ‘visibility’ by the various participants. In this way, it is possible to satisfy the needs of the different groups involved in/affected by the event without bringing them into direct conflict.”

Dr McLoughlin will present a paper entitled ‘Exiting Political Violence: The Northern Ireland Case and the Importance of Providing Militants with a Viable “Exit Strategy.’ This draws on research relating to the Northern Ireland peace process and of a “mutually hurting stalemate,” to help understand the broad success of efforts in Northern Ireland to draw militants into a negotiation and settlement process. The paper suggests the need to understand how external factors (the Irish government, Irish-America, etc.) were important in providing militants with a perceived way out or “exit strategy” from their violent campaign. This, it argues, may have implications for other, similar scenarios where efforts are being made to end enduring ethnic conflict.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Dr McLoughlin, commented: “I am delighted to have been invited to present on research into the conflict in Northern Ireland, along with fellow colleague, Dr Katy Hayward, to the prestigious Centre on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos), which is led by internationally-renowned Professor Donatella Della Porta.

“Similarly to the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute at Queen’s, Cosmos focuses on social movements as part of broader contentious politics.  We aim to promote international exchange of ideas in order to build a greater understanding of how we respond to and might manage issues of severe social contention such as those seen in Northern Ireland.”