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Political Research Exchange

Peaceful Protest or Petrol Bombs? Explaining Both the Presence and Absence of Parades-Related Riots on Belfast’s Crumlin Road (2001-2013)

Civil Society
 
Ethnic Conflict
 
Political Violence
 
Social Movements
 
Qualitative
 
Protests
 
Youth
 
Presenter
Adam Brodie
University of Oxford
Authors
Adam Brodie
University of Oxford

Abstract
Parades disputes, conflicts in which residents (usually Catholic/Nationalist) contest the right of paraders (usually Protestant/Unionist) to march through certain areas, have been a feature of Northern Irish politics since the mid-1990s. Since 2001, the most contentious of these conflicts has taken place every 12th of July on the Crumlin Road. The passage of the Orange Order past the communities of Ardoyne and Mountainview on the evening of the 12th often triggers violence. Mass rioting took place in 2001, between 2004-2005 and from 2009 to 2012. And yet, riots are not a given. In 2002-2003, and, most notably, between 2006-2008, the passage of the parade, while still inciting protest, did not trigger any riots. This paper will investigate why. Drawing on a wide array of data sources, from interviews to policy reports to YouTube videos, this study will ask why the Catholic/Nationalist community responds to parades with violence, how forces (both state and communal) respond to that violence, and what limits their ability to stop it. In this way I hope to use this case study to draw broader conclusions about why street demonstrations escalate to violence, and what might be done to keep this from happening.
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