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Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern IrelandResistance, Management, and Release$
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Kieran McEvoy

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299073.001.0001

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Criminalisation, 1976–1981

Criminalisation, 1976–1981

(p.227) 9 Criminalisation, 1976–1981
Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern Ireland

Kieran McEvoy

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers a model of prison management referred to as criminalisation, which operated in Northern Ireland between 1976 and 1981. It is argued that this strategy was linked to a broader political and security strategy (Ulsterisation) designed to reduce the role of the British army, give security primacy to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and reframe terrorist violence as a ‘law and order’ problem rather than a political one. In the prisons this required the denial of political status to the prisoners, the removal of tangible symbols of political rather than ordinary imprisonment, and forcing prisoners to conform to the same regime as ordinary criminal prisoners in any other prison in the United Kingdom. The model was characterised by a number of features including rule enforcement and the assertion of power; the internalisation of propagandist positions; brutality, violence, and dehumanisation; and hothouse management and political interference from ministers. It is argued that this strategy failed in its stated objective.

Keywords:   Ulsterisation, hothouse management, criminalisation, Royal Ulster Constabulary, rule enforcement, propaganda, brutality, dehumanisation

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