Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
William J. Benet
Political division has plagued Northern Ireland since its partition from the rest of Ireland in the 1920s. Current literature recounts the role of nationalist actors in the violent struggle that erupted in 1969 initiating a 3-decade period of civil strife described as the Troubles. However, very little scholarly coverage exists providing details of nonviolent resistance on the part of some community members. The purpose of this interpretive phenomenological study was to examine the meanings and perceptions evoked from Irish nationalists from Belfast and Derry who chose to challenge security policies through nonviolent actions from 1970 through 1981. Using a chain sampling approach, 14 protesters volunteered to tell their stories. Benet's polarities of democracy unifying model was used as the theoretical framework for the study. The data collected were analyzed using the modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method, which involved a synthesis of meanings generated from respondents. Data analysis revealed 4 major themes that underpinned informant experiences of protest: social identity, coping, perseverance, and empowerment. Data showed in many instances that more aggressive security tactics used against demonstrators incited more intense antistate activities. Public administrators, through a combination of written policy and security personnel training, should, therefore, address sociopolitical grievances in a manner that will promote mediation in an effort to avoid instigation of further and more physical protest actions. State officials, as well as elected legislators who write and analyze public policy, may incorporate the findings of this study to expediate the delivery of more democratic government services and to support and promote nonviolent active citizenry.