The IRA apology of 2002 and forgiveness in Northern Irelands's troubles: a cross-national study of printed media

Neil Ferguson, Eve Binks, Mícheál D. Roe, Jessica Nee Brown, Tiffany Adams, Sharon Mary Cruise, Christopher Alan Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This study provides a cross-national exploration of the media and public responses to the 2002 Irish Republican Army (IRA) statement of apology for the hundreds of non-combatant deaths caused by them over the past 30 years. The study explored responses to the statement in national, regional, and local newspapers across the United States, England, and Northern Ireland. It was hypothesized that relational closeness to victims of the IRA campaign would affect attitudes toward the IRA apology, as would geographical closeness to the political violence in Northern Ireland; also within Northern Ireland there would be differences in attitudes toward the statement due to the ethnopolitical orientation of the newspapers' intended readership. The results broadly supported these hypotheses, with the U.S. print media being generally more positive and the English print media more negative in attitude toward the statement of apology. Also, among responses in England, those areas that had suffered directly from IRA violence tended to have the most negative reactions of all. In Northern Ireland, newspapers with a predominately Catholic readership responded to the IRA apology generally positively, whereas newspapers with a predominately Protestant readership responded generally negatively. The results illustrate difficulties facing peace processes in settings of ethnic violence and the complexity of responses to apology and forgiveness of relevant publics within and outside actual conflict areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-113
Number of pages21
JournalPeace and Conflict
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


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