The Information Research Department, unattributable propaganda, and Northern Ireland: promising salvation but ending in failure?
Cormac, Rory (2016) The Information Research Department, unattributable propaganda, and Northern Ireland: promising salvation but ending in failure? English Historical Review, 131 (552). pp. 1074-1104. ISSN 1477-4534
Official URL: http://ehr.oxfordjournals.org/content/131/552/1074.full
This article examines the role of the IRD (Information Research Department) in Northern Ireland during the first half of the 1970s. After discussing British conceptualisations of propaganda, it offers a detailed account of IRD activity, including how a Foreign Office department came to be involved on British soil; how IRD propaganda fitted into the broader apparatus in Northern Ireland; the activity in which the IRD was engaged – both in Northern Ireland and beyond; and some of the challenges faced which limited the campaign’s effectiveness. It argues that the IRD’s role was driven from the very top of government and came against a context of cuts, a deteriorating security situation in Northern Ireland, and a tradition of domestic propaganda in the UK. IRD activity pressed four key themes: exploiting divisions within the IRA; undermining the IRA’s credibility amongst the population; linking the IRA to international terrorism; and portraying the IRA as communist.
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