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Brutality in an Age of Human RightsActivism and Counterinsurgency at the End of the British Empire$
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Brian Drohan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781501714658

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501714658.001.0001

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“A More Talkative Place”

“A More Talkative Place”

Northern Ireland

(p.151) Chapter 5 “A More Talkative Place”
Brutality in an Age of Human Rights

Brian Drohan

Cornell University Press

Chapter five examines how British officials responded to rights activism in Northern Ireland, with an emphasis on the period from the army’s initial deployment in 1969 to 1976. Rights activists criticized the government for permitting repressive measures such as internment without trial and torture during interrogation (the “five techniques”), but the results of this activism differed from past conflicts. Activism fostered more open and frank discussions of counterinsurgency practices than in the Cyprus or Aden campaigns which led to numerous government inquiries. Although the results of some inquiries—such as the Compton Report and the Widgery Tribunal—reflected a desire to justify or downplay British actions, others dug deeper into the issues and evidence. These inquiries resulted in a substantive and persistent public debate over rights issues related to detention and interrogation in which government brutality and repression was frequently contested, albeit with mixed results.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, Compton Report, Widgery Tribunal, internment, interrogation, torture, five techniques

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