Representations of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles' within the British media, 1973-1997
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date26/06/2021
Doughty, Roseanna Jane
This thesis investigates British media representations of the conflict in Northern Ireland between 1973 and 1997, and how these affected the lived experiences of the Irish in Britain over this period. The ‘Troubles’ dominated headlines from the outbreak of communal violence in 1968. As the main source of information on Northern Ireland for most British people, the press and broadcast media were central to how the conflict was reported on and understood in Britain. The British press and broadcast media offered multifaceted and detailed coverage of the conflict in Northern Ireland, contrary to the assumptions made by various scholars, and the belief of many Irish people living in Britain at the time. The prevailing view amongst the Irish in Britain was that the media merely regurgitated the official line, producing one-dimensional coverage of Northern Ireland. Irish political and community activists in Britain from the 1980s campaigned against the media’s allegedly oversimplified and biased reporting, which they believed played a significant role in the discrimination and harassment experienced by the Irish, especially as a result of the IRA bombing campaign in English cities. These activists were correct in maintaining that the media contributed to the hostile environment experienced by many Irish people living in Britain throughout the ‘Troubles’. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the press and broadcasting bodies failed to engage with the complexities of the conflict in Northern Ireland or indeed provide a critical view of the role of the British state. This thesis presents the findings of an in-depth analysis of a broad and representative range of newspapers and television current affairs programmes. Far from simply parroting the official line, the media resisted efforts by the state to dictate how the ‘Troubles’ were reported. The media provided far more nuanced, independent-minded and analytical coverage of the conflict than has been acknowledged.