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Title: The RUC Special Branch : how effective was it at defeating an insurgency?
Author: Matchett, William R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 1214
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2014
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The thesis examines inconsistences in the portrayal of how Northern Ireland's conflict was brought to an end. Primarily it points out that, missing from this explanation is the significance of the security element and with it, the difficulty in countering a modern insurgency (the Provisionals). Moreover, what is tendered as an explanation focuses exclusively on the political endgame and leans too heavily towards skewed post-conflict thinking that sees insurgents as 'peacemakers' prevented from making peace because of a manifestly bad Police Force, particularly its intelligence agency (Special Branch). Most contemporary academic works promote this outlook, in what has become the dominant narrative. This is why security is excluded. That is, the dominant narrative reflects the views of those traditionally hostile of the security response and others with utopian theories of what it should have entailed. There is therefore a significant intellectual gap in our understanding of how peace was achieved, which this thesis redresses in the process of contesting the dominant narrative. The thesis is a practitioner's perspective that examines Northern Ireland's conflict (1969-1998) as an irregular war, studying the main threat as an insurgency and the response of the State as a counterinsurgency. Any bias is towards this direction. It is therefore not a completely objective account but a critical examination of the extant literature and a rigorous approach to interviews, field notes and documents. It employs a grounded theory approach, involving interviews with mostly former Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch (RUCSB) officers, almost all of who worked on Police professionalisation programmes in Iraq and Afghanistan, some U.S. military personnel, senior Iraqi Police and British Army Special Forces. Nearly all interviews were conducted in irregular war environments in Iraq or Afghanistan. The approach provides a representative analysis of the RUCSB and a broad overview of the current threat faced in most on-going conflicts. Key interviews are U.S. General David Petraeus and British Army Colonel (retired) Tim Collins.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available