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Example research essay topic: Propaganda In Northern Ireland - 1,706 words

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Throughout the history of civilized societies and governments in the world propaganda has played a large part in their affairs. "Propaganda is the deliberative and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognition's, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist" (ODonnell and Jowett, 53). Propagandas purpose is "weighted in favor of the propagandist and not necessarily in the best interest of the receiver" (ODonnell and Jowett, 53). Almost always performed by institutions and governments, propaganda takes on many forms. In particular, North Ireland, which is the focus of my paper, both historically and recently has not been immune to propaganda and its effects. With involvement on behalf of the media, individuals, governments (of both Ireland and the British), and political action groups, propaganda has taken many forms throughout Irelands history.

It would be impossible to discuss the history of propaganda in Ireland without first examining in some detail the history of the country itself. Irelands history is filled with deep religious and political disputes. Beginning with the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169, England started its earliest involvement with taking part in Irish affairs and Irish Kings soon submitted to Henry II of England. Later on in 1556, England established many land colonies for Protestant landlords, especially in North Ireland, for the Protestants to act as loyal subjects to England in ruling over the predominantly Catholic population of Ireland (Blanchard, 18). These English settlements continued throughout the country, all of this causing numerous rebellions and uproars throughout the 1800 s between the Catholics and Protestant subjects who pledged loyalty to England (Blanchard, 26). Eventually in the late 1800 s and early 1900 s the Irish nationalist movement began with the development of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) "in reaction to several hundred years of English rule" (Hamilton, 367).

In 1905 a more extreme Irish nationalist group called Sinn Fein (meaning "our-selves") emerged (Blanchard, 28). "Vigorous political campaigning and violent military action by military nationalists resulted in the British legislature passing the Government of Ireland Act in 1920, which partitioned Ireland into two separate states, " the Republic of Ireland (Eire) and Northern Ireland (Hamilton, 368). This settled many of the early disputes as this treaty was worked out between the British and Irish nationalists such as Lloyd George, Arthur Griffith, and Michael Collins. An agreement was reached recognizing an "Irish Free State for the Twenty-Six Counties of the South with dominion status, and independent affiliation of the Six Counties of the North with Great Britain" (Blanchard, 334). Soon after, the Republic of Ireland declared Eamon de Valera as President. Since this partition was never fully accepted by many of the citizens, both Catholic and Protestant, on both sides of the border, the next seventy years up until now would be filled with uprisings and rebellions. There were many affiliations that still would not be happy with this agreement and so propaganda became a large part of their fight to win their viewpoint.

Ever since its wide spread influence, propagandists have used the media to their advantage in spreading propaganda messages. "The media can, under certain circumstances, have a strong influence on public perceptions of contemporary political issues and allow the powerful to legitimate their actions" (Cottle, 292). It is undeniable that the British and Irish governments have both interfered, directly and indirectly, with media coverage of Northern Ireland. Media institutions on all sides of the troubles in Ireland have been involved in the spread of propaganda. However, when considering the role of media in the troubles one must consider the role that terrorism has played. "Terrorists secure attention, recognition and legitimacy through media exposure" (Cottle, 284). The mass media effectively serve as a propaganda platform for terrorists and their causes. "Approached thus, the media may indeed be a crucial factor in the development or inhibition of terrorism in so far as it provides a public forum for the communication of grievances and political aims" (Cottle, 285). In the media, the term terrorism acts as a label to de legitimize the political aims and actions of those engaging in the violence.

Such labels serve the propaganda interest of those opposed to certain groups and their political aims. "Clearly the role of the mass media is of central concern here, constituting as it does a key medium for the propaganda war, a terrain on which the battle for hearts and minds is played out" (Cottle, 285). With regards to terrorism, the IRA receives propaganda victories when the media, both at home and abroad, have coverage of the British and Protestant attacks on IRA demonstrations. Such attacks include the Bloody Sunday killings (which I will discuss later in the paper) and other Protestant terrorist attacks. Simon Hoggart states in a recent article of Guardian, that the Bloody Sunday killings "at one stroke, rallied the South behind the Catholics of the North... and it provided an inexhaustible seam of anti-British propaganda to be used around the world. " He meant this through media exposure around the world. Further adding to the medias involvement with the IRA, the motion picture "Michael Collins, " has been "slandered as the glorification of a terrorist and as pro-IRA propaganda" (Galway, 6).

In defense of the British government, however, pro-IRA media have avoided coverage of IRA attacks "such as the Kingsmill massacre (1976; 10 Protestant mill workers executed at a bogus checkpoint), the La Mon Hotel bombing (1978; 12 Protestant patrons incinerated); and the Enniskillen bomb (1987; 11 Protestant parade spectators killed) " (Stevenson, 19). It is not to assume, however, that the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC, the established British government in Ireland) did not perform propaganda activities of their own. Media attention in favor of the British and Protestant Loyalists "tended to be drawn towards violence, and the violence of the IRA particularly; the British army were represented as... largely inactive except as a rather superior kind of Boy Scout Troop" (Cottle, 285). Those in positions of power, both in government and in the media, have proved reluctant to provide an accurate picture of the events in North Ireland, and have made considerable efforts to prevent journalists and film-makers from presenting the situation from any angle other than that favored by the British government. "The British public is generally allowed to see only the worst of the enemy's (actions) and the best of their own" (Cottle, 286). Attempts to blacken the name of the IRA have been combined with the aim to play down British army actions and to emphasize its peace-keeping role. "In propaganda terms this has meant playing down Loyalist violence" (Cottle, 289).

British states and its agencies have engaged in all kinds of propaganda and successfully manipulated the media in the past. One example of this would be the "Stalker affair, " involving the press coverage of a senior British police officer who was assigned to investigate a possible RUC shoot-to-kill policy, but then found himself the subject of corruption and misconduct. These allegations led to his removal from the case. "No British newspaper ever seriously entertained the idea that Stalker was investigated and eventually resigned because of any wrongdoing on his part, and how it was publicly suggested he was framed because he was getting too close to the truth" (Cottle, 291). Another incident involved British news reports of the killings of three IRA members. According to the BBC, "they were apparently challenged by, it appears, plain-clothed policemen...

then the shoot-out happened" (Miller, 485). As it turned out, the three IRA members had not been shot by plain-clothed policemen but members of the British army and there had been no shoot-out because the IRA members had not been armed. : Furthermore, when the facts began to come to light, rather than reflect on the inaccuracies in forming the initial report the British news media chose to follow the story set by official sources. "Now headline attention turned to the possibility of a fourth escaped IRA member with headlines reading Hunt for Fourth IRA Terrorist" (Miller, 485). Meanwhile, the American press headlines for the same date read "British Admit Killing 3 Unarmed Members of the IRA" (Miller, 485). However, the U. S.

press did not always act as a gate keeper to the actions in North Ireland. In two separate incidents, "British journalists have criticized the U. S. press coverage of Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams 48 -hour visit" to the states in 1994 (Dettmer, 8).

Adams, president of Provisional Sinn Fein, the IRAs political party, was allowed into America for 48 hours and received a chance to speak at an important conference to help the peace process in Northern Ireland. U. S. journalists inaccurately reported that Adams had condemned IRA Violence. "The Daily News and the Post, which cater to Irish-Americans, conveyed the impression that Adams was working toward peace" and British journalists were fuming that "the often naive questions from the U. S.

television interviewers... were a gift to such an accomplished propagandist" (Dettmer, 8). The British press pointed out serious inaccuracies in the coverage that allowed Adams to promote himself as a peacemaker without being challenged. Adams insisted to reporters that Sinn Fein has no connection to the IRA. The fact is that Sinn Fein has been widely described as the political arm of the terrorist group. Also angering the British was the belief that Adams and Sinn Fein were secretly raising money to supply the IRA with weapons for their cause. "Adams scored a major propaganda victory in the negotiations underway among the British and Irish governments and Protestant and Catholic leaders in Northern Ireland" (Dettmer, 9).

Gerry Adams further received another propaganda victory with the American press in an article by Vanity Fair magazine written by Maureen Orth. A featured article in National Review states the editors displeasure with Orth's interview of Adams being an account of how Adams is bringing peace to Ireland. "It is pure propaganda, probably timed to coincide with one of the IRAs brief cease-fires, which are themselves timed to force the two governments to make unwise concessions" (Osullivan, 3). Osullivan further claims that Orth knows he is guilty of vicious crimes, yet "she finds Adams sexually attractive. " Certain individuals...


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