The Troubles: Northern Ireland's Quest For Peace

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


The Troubles in Northern Ireland have proven to be one of the most intractable and enduring political, culture, and territorial disputes in Europe. The purpose of this thesis is to explain to the reader why. Furthermore, the thesis examines the evolution of American policy towards the province since 1968. The discussion begins by examining the various political groups, terrorist organizations and the British security forces operating in Northern Ireland. A brief history of the conflict is provided to set the stage for a detailed examination of the causes and course of the recent Troubles. This includes an analysis of the rise of the IRA and the early attempts by the British to find a solution to the violence in the province. The thesis then turns to the efforts of both London and Dublin to solve Northern Ireland's agony. Beginning with Thatcher's policy, which culminated in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, to the more recent all-party talks on the future of Northern Ireland, the thesis charts out the course of London's attempts to find a workable mechanism to disengage from directly ruling Northern Ireland and Dublin's reluctance to absorb an unwilling Protestant population. Finally the thesis builds the case that the Clinton Administration has gone well beyond traditional American approaches of involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland to the detriment of the Anglo-American "Special Relationship."

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© John C Bellais