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Laneside, Then Left a Bit? Britain's Secret Political Talks with Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, 1973–1976

CRAIG, Tony (2012) Laneside, Then Left a Bit? Britain's Secret Political Talks with Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, 1973–1976. Irish Political Studies, n/a (n/a). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0790-7184

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Abstract or description

This article examines talks that took place between British government officials and loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland at a critical moment in the most recent Troubles. In particular, this article describes talks that took place secretly at the Northern Ireland Office's ‘Laneside’ building, a secluded suburban house used by British diplomats and MI6 officers on the shores of Belfast Lough between 1971 and 1976. Drawing on both recently released archive material as well as interviews with those who worked at and visited Laneside, this article explores what went on at these talks and analyses their outcomes from three different perspectives. This article demonstrates that the most accurate perspective from which to view what occurred in these meetings is neither top-down (government led) nor bottom-up (paramilitary led), but one that looks at what went on there as part of a conversation which both sets of participants for a time found useful. For the loyalists, Laneside had a role as a venue to think about strategy (rather than negotiate ends). For the British these were conversations that were useful in furnishing their understanding of loyalism, and as a place where policies could be explained and problems better understood. Looking at what occurred at Laneside as a semi-autonomous governmental body in Northern Ireland reveals key insights into both the loyalist paramilitaries' political ideas as well as the aims of British policy in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, this middle perspective holds a mirror up to the more familiar talks then occurring between the very same British officials and the Provisional IRA.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online First publication.
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies > Journalism, Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Tony CRAIG
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2013 10:41
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:37

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