Spreading Influence: The Irish Republican Army

JJ Celentano '16

The project: Mr. Celentano examines how the Irish Republican Army was able to gain popular support in 1960s Belfast, as it took on the British paramilitary force known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In exploring how propaganda and misinformation campaigns influenced public opinion, he draws parallels to other areas of violent conflict in the world today.

Notable quote: “Studying the actions of the Irish Republican Army, their violent points, the way they influenced…people to support their cause, as well as why the conflict came to an end, provides details that may help end the war on terror in the Middle East today. While sovereign states like the United States and Russia continue to look towards violence as a way of ending the conflict, they push people to support radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban.”

Biggest challenge as a scholar: “Knowing what I wanted to do. I had all these ideas going in.”

Surprising discovery: “The topic I ended up choosing. I went from ancient Roman and Greek civilizations to maybe doing something comparing the First World War to something else, to how the First World War affected Irish culture, and then finally, eventually, I don’t even know how I got there, found my topic. It’s something I’ve never really had an interest in, but once I started doing my reading and thinking about it, it caught my attention and I was like, I’m going to run with this.”

Tip for future scholars: “Feel free to change your topic as many times as you want until that day when you really have to have the idea. Listen to your peers and just move forward until its crunch time and you finally know what you want to do. At least that’s how it happened to me.”

From his presentation: Shows of force by the Royal Ulster Constabulary became rallying causes for the IRA.