Violence, Conflict, Militarisation and Displacement
Between July 1920 and September 1922, Belfast experienced a series of outbreaks of rioting, violence and killing, resulting in huge loss of life and displacement of people from neighbourhoods across the city.
In October 1920, the Ulster Special Constabulary was founded and by 1922, the A, B and C specials numbered 32,000. On 22 June 1922, the RUC was founded.
This was a significant period in the city of Belfast’s history. Our ‘Violence, Conflict, Militarisation and Displacement’ conference was originally planned for spring 2020, as part of our Decades of Centenaries programme, but was cancelled as a result of COVID restrictions. The videos below feature each of the speakers who were due to address the conference. There is also a panel discussion featuring all of the speakers.
The videos on this page are hosted on YouTube by The Nerve Centre.
Dr Éamon Phoenix – The political landscape in 1920
Dr Phoenix is a political historian, broadcaster and author of ‘Northern Nationalism’ which charts the position of northern Catholic Nationalists before and after Partition. He is a regular broadcaster on modern Irish History on RTÉ, the BBC and UTV.
In this video he discusses the political landscape in 1920.
(Video is 50 minutes long)
Dr Alan Parkinson – Violence, Conflict and the Belfast Troubles 1920-1922
Dr Parkinson is a former teacher training university lecturer. He has written extensively on modern Irish political history and has just published a new book; ‘A difficult birth; Northern Ireland’s Early Years 1020-1925’. He is best known for the book ‘Belfast’s Unholy War’.
In this video he discusses violence, conflict and the Belfast Troubles from 1920-1922.
(Video is 30 minutes long)
Liz Gillis – Impact of Conflict on the Communities
Ms Gillis is an historian and author, from the Liberties in Dublin. She has a degree in Irish History and currently works as a researcher on History Ireland with RTÉ. She is an author of six books on the Irish Revolution including ‘Women of the Irish Revolution’. In 2018, she was awarded the Lord Mayor’s award for her contribution to history in Dublin. Liz specializes in in looking at sources such as newspaper accounts and local stories to bring history alive.
In this video she discusses the impact of conflict on communities in 1920 - 1921.
(Video is 35 minutes long)
Jim McDermott – The IRA in 1920
Mr McDermott is an author and teacher, having been head of history at Corpus Christi school in Belfast. He is the author of a key text for this period: ‘Northern Divisions, the old IRA and the Belfast Pogroms’. He has given many talks and lectures on this issue.
In this video he discusses the IRA in 1920.
(Video is 31 minutes long)
Dr Brian Barton – The Birth of The RUC and B Specials
Dr Barton lectured for many years at the College of Business Studies and as a tutor at the Open University. He was a research fellow at Queen's University Belfast and at Churchill House in Cambridge. He has written many books, including his most recent: ‘Belfast Blitz; the City in the War Years’. He has also contributed to many books on Ireland 1921-1928.
In this video he discusses the Birth of The RUC and B Specials.
(Video is 35 minutes long)
Panel discussion, chaired by Deirdre McBride
Ms McBride formerly worked with the NI Community Relations Council on the Decade of Centenaries and is currently researching the commemoration of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in Northern Ireland in 2016.
This video shows the panel discussion between the presenters at the Decades of Centenaries conference.
(Video is 1 hour and 8 minutes long)