In this piece by Sean Brennan, he proposes that the recent flag protests and the violent disturbances at Woodvale / Ardoyne in Belfast potentially mark a turning point for loyalism. If these events can indeed be used to illustrate the futility of violence (subsequent demonstrations have been better organized), and if Brennan is right that a “Socially motivated ‘grassroots’ Loyalism” with “a new inclusive non-violent community action element” is emerging, then we might well anticipate a new lease on the prospect of thoroughgoing conflict transformation.
I would like to highlight Brennan’s mention of “non-violent community action.” I still believe that an important dimension of conflict transformation is the nonviolent empowerment of all parties, through political engagement, and when necessary, nonviolent civil resistance. Unfortunately, there has not been a historical tradition of strategic nonviolent action within PUL communities. Now would be a wonderfully appropriate time for influential local leaders to become familiar with the extensive knowledge that has been developed about effective nonviolent action.
Those who are interested might visit the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, the Albert Einstein Institution, and the Global Nonviolent Action Database.
As always, its a real pleasure to be back in Northern Ireland on sabbatical. I am especially thankful to be here this spring to celebrate the launch of my book, Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland (Oxford University Press). It is particularly rewarding to be among friends, colleagues, and so many people who have supported the research for this project over many years.
I’ve never used the word “launch” so many times in my life, but I can announce that, in addition to this blog, a new website for the book has been launched at http://ulctni.swarthmore.edu, and thanks to the support of Oxford University Press, No Alibis Bookstore, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Swarthmore College, the book itself will be launched on Monday, 12th March 2012, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at No AlibisBookstore. 83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
RSVPs are welcomed at http://bit.ly/noalibislaunch
The book will be offered at a special price at this event and refreshments will be served.