The Ireland Funds in Our Project


About The Ireland Funds: The Ireland Funds is a non-profit, philanthropic organization founded in 1976. Since that time The Ireland Funds has raised over 480 million dollars on behalf of more than 3,000 organizations. According to the organization’s mission statement, The Ireland Funds supports “programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland”. In our project we focused specifically on programs which The Ireland Funds classifies as “Supporting a Shared Future in Northern Ireland.” These programs “address the lack of understanding and respect for varying cultural and religious values.” To examine these specific programs, or to find more information about The Ireland Funds click here.


The Ireland Funds in Our Project: Though the Ireland Funds has undoubtedly made incredibly large contributions in a number of different realms, as we mentioned above, in our project we examined a specific subset of those programs supported by The Ireland Funds. As a result, for our purposes The Ireland Funds webpage functions as an archive and allows us to examine projects demonstrating a variety of strategies all designed to foster peace and reconciliation. By examining the mission statements, strategies, and goals of these programs we identified several themes common to many of these projects and chose to hypothesize what commonalities those differing strategies might have in the way they attempt to create peace and reconciliation.

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Further Analysis

In other sections of this site we’ve analyzed in greater length some of our ideas behind how and why sport, art, community center, and school programs generate peace-building. But on this page we want to discuss a few of the ideas that led towards those observations and also some of the questions that this site hopes to prompt.


Subjectivity of Conflict

Theorist John W. Burton argues in his article Resolution of Conflict,

Conflict is essentially subjective. The traditional view is that while subjective elements are present, there is a dominating ‘objective’ conflict of interests. The traditional assumption is that there is a fixed amount of satisfaction to be shared in any given situation…the conclusion of conflict must be such that any gain in satisfaction by one side results in an equal loss to the other… Each [side] tends to rule out [the possibility of mutual satisfaction]…while admitting that the hypothesis may be valid in other conflicts. However, the fact that an essentially subjective relationship can be imagined in other cases is sufficient to cast doubt on the traditional notion of inevitable objective conflicts of interest. (10)

From this idea, we extrapolated that a major component of peace and reconciliation processes is that individuals recognize their own subject positions – the possibility that what they believe fully might not be inherently true, but rather be a perspective. Most of us, and as Burton claims even those involved in deep-rooted conflicts, often recognize this concept to be true in an abstract sense. But often we do not recognize it’s application to our own specific contexts and disagreements. As a result, we would argue that many of the projects we examine achieve their means by creating a ‘3rd space,’ a space that removes the context creating disagreement and instead places individuals in abstract spaces: sports, arts, schools, and community centers.



So why have people play sports together? Why have them go to theaters? Why make them sit down to talk in rooms painted bright, hopeful colors, or have them make art together?

We argue that one possible reason is that all of these spaces are ‘artificial’. By artificial we mean that the spaces create environments in which people interact with different rules and settings than they would in their daily lives. Therefore, these environments are not ‘real’ in a political or outside-world sense, but rather their focus on performance, role-playing, teamwork, and constructing something makes them abstractly real. As a result, it’s not the production of a play, or winning the game that matters, but rather the act of accomplishing something alongside others.

We argue that these projects generate shared experiences between people through the ‘3rd space’ they create – a space removed from reality. In effect, changing the ‘rules’ of how people interact, based on the rules of a game, or just the task of building something, creates scenarios and rules that are artificial in one sense, but also allow people to see how rules/laws/views, aren’t set in stone, but rather, depend on context. As a result, if individuals experience subjective relationships, which Burton argues individuals can often imagine in other spaces if not the one where they are in conflict, it is not a huge step to then recognize how subjective and context-dependent their conflicts may be too. Further, even if individuals continue to believe their own point to be right, acting in such a way that recognizes subjectivity, or role-plays it, becomes an act of healing. By ‘playing the part’ maybe one could come to believe that ‘part’ to be real, and live it.


Self-Reflection & Further Questions

In their work Peacebuilding: A Planning, Monitoring, and LearningToolkit, J.P. Lederach, Reina Neufeldt, and Hal Culbertson, state that in order to create a peacebuilding program organizers must have “a theory of change … an explanation of how and why a set of activities will bring about the changes a project’s designers seek to achieve” (25). Though we are not using a ‘theory of change’ to plan our own peacebuilding program, this site uses this idea of a theory of change to identify what the peacebuilding programs we examined are actually doing to create peace. These authors remind us that “in demystifying theory, it is important to remember that a theory of change is not an academic hypothesis, but rather an everyday expectation about ‘how the world works’” (25). This question, as to whether what we are doing here is purely offering an academic hypothesis, or if these ideas actually help viewers gain a better sense of ‘how the world works’ seems to be an important question to ask. The distance between ideas created in academic settings and the outside world may mimic the move that is made by these peace projects: an academic approach allows us to make revelations through an artificial space. How to convince doubters that these kinds of artificial spaces do matter and can make a difference poses a more challenging question than the ones we have tried to explore on this site. Thus, future research could be conducted on how to begin bridging this gap.


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Artificiality of Peacebuilding

Liam Cody and Seamus Henehan

Welcome to our site on peace and reconciliation organizations! We’re two undergraduate students at SUNY Geneseo who have spent a semester studying literature and history of Northern Ireland. Though our site focuses on Northern Ireland, we imagine these pages could be interesting and possibly helpful even to those who are not specifically interested in Northern Ireland, but rather, to anyone who is interested in peace and reconciliation processes.

Construction of Peace Bridge Derry, Northern Ireland
Construction of Peace Bridge
Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland

In these pages we want to examine elements of peace and reconciliation projects developed and implemented in Northern Ireland in the 2000s through the private funding organization The Ireland Funds. We are particularly interested in the ‘3rd space’ or ‘artificiality’ which, we argue, many of the projects create. We hope that these pages can be useful, both for people creating peace and reconciliation projects and also helpful for those hoping to theorize the ‘value’ of such projects.

Map of the Site

Though we recommend that you move through the site’s pages in the following order, the order is by no means necessary in order to explore our site.

[History & Background] – This page gives a background of our own experiences and our interests with this project. Additionally, this page gives more information about the reasons for our focus.

[The Ireland Funds] – This page provides more information about The Ireland Funds, and about how this fundraising network serves as a ‘database’ for our project.

[Organizations] – This page breaks down the different ‘types’ of organizations we examined and also analyzes how and why these organizations might be successful in creating peace and reconciliation.

[Our Project Analysis] – This page offers a more substantial analysis that provides broader critiques of how peace and reconciliation projects might succeed.

We hope you enjoy the site!

Finished Peace Bridge, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland

With any questions please email us:

Liam Cody –

Seamus Henehan –

[Works Consulted]

Real World Application

In his work Peacebuilding: A Planning, Monitoring, and LearningToolkit, J.P. Ledarch states that in order to create a peacebuilding project organizers must have “a theory of change … an explanation of how and why a set of activities will bring about the changes a project’s designers seek to achieve” (25). Though we are not using a ‘theory of change’ to plan our own peacebuilding project, this online project uses this idea of a theory of change in identifying what the peacebuilding projects we examined are actually doing to create peace. Ledarach reminds us that “in demystifying theory, it is important to remember that a theory of change is not an academic hypothesis, but rather an everyday expectation about ‘how the world works’” (25). This question, as to whether what we are doing here is purely academic, or if it actually helps create a better sense of ‘how the world works,’ forms one of the central challenges for us in this project. Whether what we are doing is simply an academic solution to an academicized problem, we aren’t entirely sure. This question is one we hope to explore in the project as a component of self-reflective analysis. In this way, we hope to not only present our analysis of peace projects funded by The Ireland Funds, but also participate in the process of self-conscious reflection we believe to be an integral part of peacebuilding.

[Hyperlink back to Title Page]

Background & History

One of the major challenges for us, as American students writing about Northern Ireland, is to recognize that this conflict is far more complicated than we might imagine. So many acronyms, and so many groups operating with their own varieties of goals; many visions of what Ireland is, or ought to be – envisioned both by people living in Northern Ireland and those outside, even by ourselves.


As this semester has progressed we’ve seen how these issues have developed over time, passed through generations of people: memories of wrongs become hardened and entrenched, and result in a conflict so thorny that the wrong word, the wrong pronunciation, comes with the baggage of hundreds of years of prejudices. Though we spent much of the semester examining how these issues form, exacerbate, and recur, we spent less time imagining how one might undo, or redirect, hundreds of years of conflict.

Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland - Free Derry Corner as it was - Belfast Airport car hire

In our project we examined The Ireland Funds, a non-profit group that funds many organizations in Northern Ireland, including ones focused on peace and reconciliation processes. These organizations range from community centers, to sports teams, to theaters and schools. On this site we hope to examine or ‘read’ these projects to get a better sense of what kinds of moves, both conscious and unconscious, they make in order to ideally develop reconciliatory action and, hopefully, compassion as well.

A British soldier searches a teenager in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles in 1971

We hope that our site will be helpful to people intending to design peace-building programs, to those intending to analyze what these programs do, and to anyone interested in the Northern Ireland peace process.

[Home Page] [Ireland Funds] [Organizations] [Analysis]

The Armagh Women by Nell McCafferty

The Armagh Women


The book, The Armagh Women, by Nell McCafferty serves as an analysis of what is was like to live in the patriarchal society of Northern Ireland and how through all of it, women were fighting back and shaping history. The book is broken up into different parts, each part serves the purpose of helping us to understand the conditions women lived in both inside and outside Armagh prison. The book starts off by giving us a window into what life was like in the prison and how the living conditions changed decade to decade as a result of the governing British putting different rules into place, such as Internment without trial. Through all the hardship the women faced, they were strong. These were women who had children of their own (multiple for the most part) and still kept up with the house and the rent while their men were either off fighting for the IRA or imprisoned. We see how women begin to realize their importance in Northern Ireland. The next part of the book talks, in detail, of three women’s accounts of their lives up to the 80’s. All three women, Rose McAllister, Ann Marie Loughran, and Eileen Mullan recount similar experiences. During this time women were fending for themselves while their husbands were off fighting for the IRA, when they were with their husbands it was usually a negative experience. Men were abusive both physically and mentally in many cases. Women were not held at the level of importance that the men were. In the 70’s women began to come together, helping each other through the worst parts. Without realizing it, they were gaining confidence and independence in living alone. Even though women were often imprisoned themselves they managed to take care of their family. Imprisoned women had to months or even years without seeing their children, sometimes multiple times over the decades. There is beauty in their struggle, even though they go through so much they face it head on and never cower. Women began to depend on each other emotionally, while their husbands were away they learned to be strong when it came to living in a war zone. They became vigilantes, banging on trash bins when the British Army was near in order to warn other women and nearby IRA members. Men fighting for the IRA and British soldiers were constantly invading the home of women, using it to fight, and in some cases, using it as a refuge. Women in many ways they are more brave then the men, choosing politics as an outlet to make a change rather than violence. In the 70’s more women were joining the Relatives Action Committee and other organizations, all meant to end imperialism and to help women going through the same hardships. This book makes us see that women have the power to change the nation. The author uses the passage of time to show how women through all the hardship progressed, and in the end poses the question of, ” Can there be national liberation without women’s liberation?” and vise versa.

Women and Ireland: The Past

Women and Ireland: The Past

There is history of marginalization of women in Northern Ireland. Their society imposed a strict, religiously puritanical concept of how women should behave. This patriarchal society impacted their perceptions of themselves. The added violence of the times further shaped the identity of the Northern Irish women. It wasn’t until the  late 60’s,  70’s and 80’s that women began to make their mark on society, using politics as an outlet.

The 60’s:

Young girls went to school until the age of 14 or 15 and  immediately after, went to work in textile mills or factories in order to support their families. From the age of 18 to 22 they were getting married and starting a family of their own. In 1968 the Civil Rights movement began, up to this point the there wasn’t much interference from women in politics. The Civil Rights movement began as a result of inequality between the Catholics and the Protestants, especially when it came to job distribution. Movements were made against this inequality and the policies, and governing body that kept it going. It wasn’t very popular at this time for women to be involved in the civil rights movement politically, their role was mostly just one of support. However, this did not mean that women weren’t involved at all

Example #1:

Bernadette Devlin was born in 1947 into a Catholic family. She grew up knowing the discrimination that came along with being a Catholic. She developed a Marxist view when it came to society and believed in a united Ireland where people had both civil and religious rights. When the Civil Rights movement began in 1968, she was a part of it. In October 1968 she chose to be a part of a non-violent march in Derry for civil rights, which was broken up by the police. After this she became a part of the People’s Democracy and was elected into parliament in 1969 and also released the book  “The Price of my soul,” where she talked about the discrimination of Catholics in Northern Ireland. She was involved in the Battle of the Bogside riot, ” leading the people of the Bogside in rebellion during the Civil Rights riots of 1969 against the Royal Ulster Constabulary. (McCafferty)” She would later be imprisoned for this in 1970.

Example #2:

Brigid Bond:  New Years Eve 1968, she planted herself in the mayor chamber in Derry city, walking from the slum she lived in and made dinner for families who decided to join in her protest. “at midnight she announced to revelers in the city centre square that she intended to stay in her marbled fastness until she and her companions were re-housed in adequate accommodation. They were rehoused and shortly after the local government authority was abolished (McCafferty).

Example #3:

The Factory Women of Derry: “the Minister of home affairs for the stormont parliament, William Craig, forbade the people of Derry to march through their own town and so the factory women downed their tools and converged on the city centre, marching in and out of the gates of the walled city until the ban was in tatters (McCafferty)” 

In 1968 women were beginning to assert their opinions on the state of Northern Ireland at the time. Although many women had not yet come into the fight, they would soon follow. The problems of Northern Ireland would only get worse, inciting women to make their voices heard.

The 70’s:

During the 70’s women began to  gain momentum in the fight against imperialism. They were asserting themselves in society. Not as just the women that society wanted them to be, but as who they wanted to be. In 1971 Internment was reintroduced, men and women assumed to be involved with the IRA were sent to internment camps. There was a lot of stress put on the women during this time to keep up with the household, children, and support their family members who were in prison. However, women, being more involved, were also being sent to prison. Unlike the men, they did not have the luxury of having someone home to take care of the kids, and had to sort that out before they were imprisoned. Many women during this time period survived as single mothers, their husbands often unfaithful while they were away and abusive when home.  With all the tumult going on in the 70’s, the women decided to form groups to help them cope. These groups gave women a support system and allowed them to become more involved in the political aspect of the fight against imperialism.

Prominent women’s groups formed in the 70’s:

Women Against Imperialism: A group created to support the fight against the British, with a focus on the view of women at the time from the IRA’s perspective. They met once a week on Tuesday’s to talk about the problems that women had to deal with everyday. These problems included, chauvinism, abortion, and lesbianism (McCafferty). The group fought for the rights of women just as much as they fought for the end of Imperialism.

– 1978: a club was opened up that was named after a woman who had been shot by a member of the British army and paralyzed. It was a rule in clubs that men were the only ones allowed in on Sunday’s. Even the woman whom the club was named after was not allowed in. The Women Against Imperialism picketed the club, being called whores by the men. Their protest created a lot of publicity and they gained recognition as a result. The Republicans saw them as a threat, even though the women were fighting for the same thing that they were. After this they tried to shut down every attempt the women made in publicizing certain issues.

– 1979: The Women Against Imperialism held a demonstration outside of Armagh jail to draw attention to the protesting women within the prison. Around this time women in Armagh had begun to reject criminalization, asking to be locked up in a different wing. Life in these cells were even more brutal than the cells they lived in previously. They were in their cells for 19 hours a day.  “Toilets were a right not a privilege (McCafferty),” and some women refused to eat.  The Women Against Imperialism held the demonstration on International Women’s Day, when they stood outside the prison and sang. The cops took notice to it though and ended up arresting the women involved, breaking up the protest. After this demonstration the world began to take notice, “People outside the North were aware now that a group of independent political women were engaged in the struggle. Women’s groups and socialist groups from Britain asked them to come over and speak. (McCafferty).”

Peace Women: Formed in 1976 when three kids were hit by a car. The man driving the car was a part of the IRA and was shot by a member of the British Army. Women and men alike were outraged, “thousands of people rallied to the scene of the tragedy and the Peace Women were born (McCafferty).” The Peace women tended to get more publicity than any other group in the beginning. They were fighting for non violence, something that everyone could stand behind. They were examples of the Idealistic woman of Northern Ireland, supporting their men and working to end violence.

Relatives Action Committee: Formed in 1976, “group of women that pointed out the practical link between the still rising prison population and the widespread political turmoil – They fought for the retention of the special category status as living proof of the political root of the North’s troubles (McCafferty).” The women who formed the group were the wives and mothers of those in jail, or had been imprisoned themselves at some point. They worked to expose the faults of the system used to put their relatives in jail. They knew that many people were being imprisoned without much, if any, evidence of their crimes.

Internment had such a profound impact on women. Women, having to get used to being alone, became more independent. They were forging their way in society, and gaining a confidence that had not been there in the previous decade. Although they had to deal with abusive and/or not present husbands, their children being in jail, and a society that did not support their political efforts to end imperialism, they remained steadfast.

The 80’s: 

In the 80’s, women were at a point where they had the confidence to voice their opinions on the matter of Imperialism and Feminism. Although women fought for the rights of the people of Northern Ireland, they were also asserting their power as women in the process. They were in the media more, attracting more attention to Northern Ireland. They began to be seen as more than the role their patriarchal society had given them. They were asserting themselves as strong women, not symbols.

Dirty Protest: On February 7th 1980 all prisoners, besides the women on protest in another wing, were locked into their cells. Dinner was given to women protesting, while male officers came in to search their cells. Three women tried to run back to their cells but were stopped and beaten. At this point all the women were throwing their plates of food at the officers and so the officers forcefully put them into two separate rooms. When the women finally returned to their cells, they were wrecked. A few officers then proceeded to come into three of the women’s cells and drag them out. They were to be interrogated on the ground floor of the jail. For 3 days these women were locked up in dirty cells with only a mattress. They were not allowed to be let out for exercise, use the bathroom, and they were only given food on one of the three days. On the 13th of February of that same year, all the women were moved to a different part of the wing. Here they would be locked up for 23 hours a day. The windows in the cells were boarded up and they only had spy holes to look out of. They went to the bathroom in chamber pots that were not picked up and emptied for long periods of time so that they had to lie in their own filth. Tampons were thrown in unwrapped and would remain on the ground of the cell until they were needed. Women refused to allow themselves to be criminalized and started the dirty protest. “Women began to use their waste as a form of communication and menstrual blood. – News began to seep out and then the question was asked of who are these women and how did they get there (McCafferty)?”

The women of Ireland have grown throughout the decades, separating themselves from the Rebublican/Unionist view of the ideal woman. A woman that wasn’t ideal in the women of Northern Ireland’s eyes, so much as obedient. In the 80’s they had gained the confidence. They would no longer allow themselves to be symbols. They fought against society and the media confining their voices, making political statements to the world that they were as much a part of of the war within their nation as the men.

a1                    back-end-women-1980-poster                    c1

Evan Boland “Anorexic”

Evan Boland, “Anorexic”

In this poem Evan Boland addresses the role of women in a Patriarchal society. There is a duality to the poem. In a literal sense this poem is talking about a woman starving herself because she associates eating with submission and sin. Like the women on hunger strike, she refused to allow herself to be seen as a criminal by  means of starvation. She did this with the intent of being seen as a political prisoner of the British. In the cell she remembers a time with her husband where everything was safe. The woman allows that idea to power her through the pain of hunger. If you dig a bit deeper you realize that this poem is really talking about a woman purging herself of the woman that society has told her she must be. It is a woman who is refusing food in order to be free of what makes her the idealistic woman in the eyes of a man. There is a wildness to the beginning of the poem that makes you understand the desperation this woman feels in escaping her old role. Her hate is palpable, the violent diction makes you realize just how much she despises the woman that she is supposed to be, not just the woman, but the society that places the pressure on her to be this ideal woman.

The first part of the poem starts off by saying, “Flesh is heretic. My body is a witch. I am burning it. Yes I am torching her curves and paps and wiles. They scorch in my self denials.How she meshed my head in the half-truths of her fevers till i renounced milk and honey and the taste of lunch. I vomited her hungers. Now the bitch is burning. I am starved and curveless i am skin and bone. She has learned her lesson. Thin as a rib I turn in sleep.” The poem comes right out by showing that this woman is rejecting the idea of this ideal woman of Northern Ireland. A heretic is a person who goes against a widely held belief, choosing to have a different view regardless of what people may think. This is what the woman in this poem is taking pride in. She wants to get rid of her curves, which define her as a woman, starving herself of the food. The food in this case serves to represent what society is trying to nourish her with, this idea of the ideal woman. Once she has starved her body, then she will only be left with the flesh, which to her, makes her who she is. It is only when she renounces food, that she is free of the “fever.”

The last part of the poem goes,”My dreams probe a claustrophobia a sensuous enclosure. How warm it was and wide once by a warm drum and once by the song of his breath and in his sleeping side. Only a little more only a few more days foodless, I will slip back to him again as if I had never been away. Caged so I will grow angular and holy past pain, keeping his heart such company as will make me forget in a small space the fall into forked dark, into python needs heaving to hips and breasts and lips and heat and sweat and fat and greed” This is where the duality comes into play. In a literal sense this woman is trying to take comfort in a time where she had her husband and she finds comfort in that. The poem almost seems to say that this man is what gives her the strength to be the way she is now, sinless, without food, and fighting. However, looking at the comfort of this man as a metaphor for the comfort of her old life where she allowed herself to be dominated by the patriarchal society, we find new meaning in the text. There is such a contrast between this half of the poem and the last. Suddenly the diction becomes more dreamy and calm. This represents how easy it would be for her to find comfort once again, by accepting food and her old life. Evan Boland uses “Sensuous” to describe that life. The life that this woman lived, although appealing, was also constricting. However by allowing herself to sink back into that comfort, she would be letting in everything that she is trying to purge herself of.

Policing in Northern Ireland: Ferguson


On August 9th, 2014,  Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by an on-duty police officer, Darren Wilson. In the months that followed the shooting, protests began and continued throughout the city of Ferguson, Missouri, United States, where the killing occurred, and some of those peaceful protests turned into riots, riots that involved the police using tear gas to attempt to get the crowds dispersed. The day after the shooting, a statement was issued by the Ferguson police department, stating that Brown had attacked Wilson, and Wilson shot Brown in self defense. A candle light vigil was held for Brown, and became a violent incident as stores were looted. Police arrived to contain the situation, but when they arrived in large, armored trucks, the people of Ferguson turned against the police.  In the days that followed, protests would turn violent and enraged against officers, who would break up even the peaceful protests using tear gas. The protests went on for months, and at the time of the project, December 2014, four months after Michael Brown’s death, people are still protesting.

A device fired by police goes off in the street as they battle demonstrators in Ferguson.(Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)

What brings Ferguson in connection to the events in Northern Ireland is the policing, and the way that situations were handled. The protests both in Derry and in Ferguson turned violent at the sight of officers that had been oppressive or violent to the protesters, to which the officers would respond- and their response would be overtly forceful, and uncalled for- shooting at unarmed citizens, and tear gassing protesters and marching on them in an attempt to intimidate them.


It’s hard not to look at the events in Ferguson without looking at them in terms of race. As of the 2010 census, 67% of the population was Black.  92% of those who were arrested for disorderly conduct are black. 53 people work in the Ferguson police department, and of those 53 men and women, 3 of them are black. Of the 12 members of the grand jury that decided not to indict Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s death, 3 of them were black. Even if you want to argue that Brown’s death had nothing to do with race, it’s hard to look at these demographics and not see that something is not right.

The tactics officers deployed in Ferguson were aggressive and terrifying- people compared them to tactics used in “a war zone“. Protesters were terrified to see that the weapons being used against them were automatic rifles, and to see police donning riot gear as they marched the streets along side armored trucks. Tear gas was launched into crowds of peaceful demonstrators and journalists; “they’re treating demonstrators—and Ferguson residents writ large—as a population to occupy, not citizens to protect.” And if the fact that terrorizing American citizens wasn’t bad enough- the cost of the policing reached $11.7 million in early December 2014. Thats not to say that the treatment of the protesters is lesser than the amount of money spent, but rather to pose this question:

Why are police officers in Ferguson spending approximately $2.93 million in three months, trying to break up protests? 

Police Officer in Ferguson, August 2014


And these moments seen in Ferguson only bring further similarities between the LA Riots, Bloody Sunday, and Ferguson to light.

Much like in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday, police strength was used over the protesting oppressed people, trying to be peaceful but having a handful “hooligans” or “thugs” taking things to the extreme with looting and rioting. No one knew the names of the paras and militants that took part of the violence that day, after Darren Wilson’s named was released (six days after the shooting), police officers in Ferguson removed their name tags; as of September 29th, over a month since Brown’s death, they were still not wearing them.


Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

In Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, Patrick Friel was headed to join the march when he passed by three army vehicles. From one of them, he heard “You’ll get it today you bastards”*, which they interpreted as an idle threat, until everything went so horrible wrong. In Ferguson, a police officer threatened a protester, saying “I will f—— kill you.”


“Then a fellow came out with a white flag, no sooner had he done this when the middle one of three British soldiers pulled the trigger and shot him in the head.”** This moment happened during Bloody Sunday, when the worst of the attack was occurring.  The man was obviously showing that he meant no harm, and that he was surrendering- despite the fact that he never attacked- but whoever shot him didn’t care. In Ferguson, and all throughout the united states (including the Saint Louis Rams), protesters have taken up the cry of “Hands up, don’t shoot”.


Taken August 11, 2014

Unlike Ireland, however, the events in Ferguson and other major parts of the country are widely documented and discussed. Vines and youtube videos of the protests and riots are viewed by the millions. Twitter is filled with tweets from reporters at the scene and citizens of Ferguson. There are hundreds of first hand reports out there of what is happening in Ferguson today, and the people who live throughout the rest of the united states follow all sources and learn all they can about what happened there, not just believing what was said by officials.


After events like these, questions are left behind.


What has led to extreme action being the first response? What caused this knee-jerk reaction?

Occupy Wall Street was a peaceful protest that took place in 2011, protesting structural inequality between the majority wealth holders, “the 1%” and the rest of the world. Why didn’t the police get violent during this protest? What is the difference in their minds between protesting a death versus protesting wealth issues?


 NEXT: Consultations





*-Mullan, Don. Eyewitness Bloody Sunday. Dublin: Wolfhound, 1997. 73. Print.

**- Mullan, Don. Eyewitness Bloody Sunday. Dublin: Wolfhound, 1997. 118-119. Print.

Other Sources:


Policing in Northern Ireland: A Constable Calls


A Constable Calls is the second poem in Seamus Heaney’s series called Singing School. It immediately follows The Ministry of Fear and reflects a similar theme. In this poem, Heaney recounts a memory of a constable visiting his house to take account of his father’s agricultural assets. Throughout the poem, Heaney incorporates diction that creates an ominous air around the constable. The main takeaway from the poem is that the constable’s very presence creates an overwhelming anxiety in the young Heaney. When his father omits mentioning a small row of tulips in the garden, Heaney begins to fear his father will be taken away to prison. Heaney’s feelings of fear and anxiety as a result of this encounter are meant to mirror the larger relationship between Catholics and police in Northern Ireland, and how Catholics cannot even trust the very people that are supposed to be tasked with protecting the citizens of Ulster.

2. A Constable Calls [1]

His bicycle stood at the window-sill,
The rubber cowl of a mud-splasher
Skirting the front mudguard,
Its fat black handlegrips

Heating in sunlight, the ‘spud’
Of the dynamo gleaming and cocked back [2],
The pedal treads hanging relieved
Of the boot of the law [3].

His cap was upside down
On the floor, next his chair.
The line of its pressure ran like a bevel
In his slightly sweating hair [4].

He had unstrapped [5]
The heavy ledger, and my father
Was making tillage returns
In acres, roods, and perches.

Arithmetic and fear [6].
I sat staring at the polished holster
With its buttoned flap, the braid cord
Looped into the revolver butt.

‘Any other root crops?
Mangolds? Marrowstems? Anything like that?’
‘No.’ But was there not a line
Of turnips where the seed ran out

In the potato field? [7] I assumed
Small guilts and sat
Imagining the black hole in the barracks [8].
He stood up, shifted the baton-case

Farther round on his belt,
Closed the domesday book [9],
Fitted his cap back with two hands,
And looked at me as he said goodbye.

A shadow bobbed in the window.
He was snapping the carrier spring
Over the ledger. His boot pushed off
And the bicycle ticked, ticked, ticked [10].

NEXT: Bloody Sunday

PREVIOUS: The Ministry of Fear

[1] Heaney, Seamus. “Singing School.” Poetry Foundation. Web. 1 December 2014.

[2] Heaney’s use of the phrase “cocked back” strongly connotes the hammer of a pistol as it is being readied to fire, indicating the fear that the mere presence of this constable instills in the young Heaney.

[3] In using the word “relieved,” Heaney is reminding the reader of the sense of pressure and weight ordinary citizens felt under the authority of the R.U.C. and the B-Specials. The “boot of the law” weighs down upon citizens of Northern Ireland.

[4] Heaney again brings up the idea of this always present pressure, and of the necessity to conform to standards of good, honest behavior, especially among Catholics, for fear of dire consequences.

[5] “Unstrapped,” like “cocked back,” calls to mind the image of a constable’s pistol. “Unstrapped” would refer to the holster, and by ending the line on that word, Heaney leaves the reader wondering for a moment what exactly was unstrapped. This mirrors the fear and apprehension toward the constable Heaney felt as a youth.

[6] Here, Heaney is making it clear to the reader how even mundane things like mathematics could be infused with an air of fear and suspicion.

[7] Heaney worries that his father’s failure to mention the line of turnips will end up landing him in jail. The fact that a minor omission could have such dire consequences mirrors the overall climate in the “Ministry of Fear,” and further emphasizes how disenfranchised working class Catholics were.

[8] By referring to the “black hole in the barracks,” Heaney is suggesting that the barracks was a place people disappeared to, a place that they might not come back from.

[9] Referring to the ledger as a “domesday book” makes it clear to the reader that Heaney felt this constable had his father’s fate in his hands. If it were found that his father had lied, he would almost certainly be jailed.

[10] The ticking of the bike can serve two meanings. On one hand, it could be meant to connote the counting down of a timer towards his father’s lie being discovered. On the other hand, it could also be meant to connote the ticking of a bomb, such as those commonly used by paramilitary forces against police at the time.