For those that are neither involved in international relations nor living in the UK or Ireland, the phenomenon of Irish republicanism, manifested in political violence, is something that ended in peace agreements and is beyond the current sources of terrorist threats. Scant news concerning Irish republican movements tend to be connected with the on-going political process and infrequent marches-cum-demonstrations. Compared to the period of “Troubles,” the activities of this movement have significantly decreased. There are, however, people for whom peace agreements and ceasefire are unacceptable. These people have the same objective as their predecessors: to end “British rule” in Northern Ireland. As for the means of achieving this objective they reject everything except violence. Thus the question of the “end of history,” in terms of Irish republicanism, is still open.
The purpose of P. M. Currie and Max Taylor’s work – which consists of papers ‘that have their origins in a workshop held in the University of St Andrews in the Centre for the Study of terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV)’ – is ‘to explore what the rise of dissident activity is and what it might mean for both Ireland and UK.’ The book is divided into eight chapters; each written by a different author and describes specific aspects of Dissident Irish Republicanism such as: the nature of dissident Irish republicans, reasons for joining dissident movement, challenges that are connected with them, process of radicalisation of the movement and its propaganda, and Ulster Loyalist responses to this movement. This book represents several interviews with former and current participants of events and process related to these issues. This provides an excellent opportunity for the reader to gain important insights about the personal understanding of the situation from the perspective of those directly involved in this complicated and controversial process.
The relationship between those who agreed with the St Andrews and Good Friday agreements and those who ‘see themselves as the true inheritors of the republican tradition ’is one of them most important aspects discussed in this book. The difference of their understanding of the process that occurs in Ireland at the moment, and the role of both categories, is sometimes overwhelming.
One of the main questions is ‘who are dissident Irish republicans?’ Horgan and Gill, in the second chapter, provide information about this question by the introduction of the Violent Dissident Republican Project (VDRP). In this chapter unique statistical information about organisational affiliations of dissident republicans, their current statuses, geographical distributions, age and other aspects are found. Speaking about the nature of dissidents, Currie concludes that they are: unstable, fractured and small in number.
The next question is ‘why people become dissident Irish republicans?’ There is no clear answer for this question. One of the main reasons is, of course, the rejection of the agreements between Republicans and British representatives. For this category the members of the movement that accepted these treaties are considered traitors ‘who have forsworn the aspiration of a United Ireland.’ Morrison, in his chapter, provides a solid analysis of aspects that have an influence on the decision to participate in the dissident republican movement through the prism of political organisational theory. From his vantage, timing, context, influential individuals, regionalism and age are major variables.
The research connected to violence in this work retains a singular, core purpose; to discern possible ways to stop it. Although forming some perspectives that will also lead to the creation of a new dissident movement, there are some circumstances that help activists move away from the violent resistance methods. At the same time the support of the dissident movement is growing. That means that the further escalation of violence is only a question of time. The collective group of authors provide several practical and theoretical approaches (accompanied with the of other countries’ experience in counter-terrorism policies) that may be usefully applied to prevent this from unfolding.
Regarding the audience for whom this book can be both useful and interesting, it should be noted that the historical backgrounds that are represented in the majority of articles give the opportunity to understand the situation for any reader even if they have little exposure to the question of Irish republicanism. The variety of perspectives that can be found in this book makes it one of the most complete works related to the theme of dissident Irish republicanism.