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Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland

by Jonathan Powell

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383537,267 (3.5)1
The Blair administration's pursuit of a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland stands out as one of the great achievements in modern British politics. Even after the initial moves towards a peace, there was every chance that long-nursed grievances would break out again into paramilitary extremism. That they did not is a lasting monument to the determination and guile of many of those involved.… (more)
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I would recommend this book to those interested in reading more about the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Powell was a very close observer and it is for this reason that his fluent account is worth reading but perhaps he was too close, in my opinion, to conduct critical analysis of the period. The book takes more the form of discussing the events rather than analysing the effects of policy changes and the outcome of negotiations. The book demonstrates how keen the British government was to placate the demands of Sinn Féin and the IRA, basically because they had guns. The Irish government was little better. Moderates, in particular the SDLP and the UUP, were sacrificed as Sinn Féin and the DUP emerged as the largest parties throughout the process as they benefitted due to concessions made to their benefit. One particular area of contention I would have with the author were his comments about Mo Mowlam and her relationship with him and the rest of the Blair government. In my view, and the view of many in Ireland, she was shafted and unfairly treated. ( )
  thegeneral | Jan 7, 2014 |
Interesting Insight into the Peace Process, 23 Jun 2008


This is a very simple book, a narrative history from 1997 to 2007 of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland as seen from the perspective of the British goverment and specifically Powell as Blair's Chief of Staff and chief organiser. The book rattles along covering events more or less as they occur. It's full of last minute meetings, late night telephone calls and exasperation at the changing demands of the parties.

The one problem is that it is so close to the events there is not enough chance for measured reflection. Most of the participants are still involved in politics and I sense that Powell is careful in his comments about people, never daring to be too critical. Infact there is all too little reflection generally, with Powell just narrating events as they happen. It misses periodic pauses to reflect and assess progress and issues. Although he touches on parallels with other conflicts it would have been interesting to develop this more and it would have been interesting to discuss whether the peace process has finally been concluded or whether there are still potential pitfalls to come.

Despite these drawbacks it's an interesting read, and Powell keeps up the pace nicely. He gives a great sense of what these negoiations are and what an exhausting and frustrating process it is. It's well worth a read.

Also on www.amazon.co.uk ( )
  BrianHostad | Feb 18, 2010 |
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The Blair administration's pursuit of a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland stands out as one of the great achievements in modern British politics. Even after the initial moves towards a peace, there was every chance that long-nursed grievances would break out again into paramilitary extremism. That they did not is a lasting monument to the determination and guile of many of those involved.

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