Maurice Punch

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Today we spoke to Maurice Punch about his new book: State Violence, Collusion and the Troubles: Counter Insurgency, Government Deviance and Northern Ireland (Pluto Press, 2012). The Troubles refers to the conflict in Northern Ireland between the IRA and the British government. The government response to the terrorist attacks involved a broad range of policing, intelligence and military agencies, including the SAS. There are many books about the actions of terrorist groups but this book looks at the actions of the government response. A number of independent inquiries have revealed serious breaches of ethics and even criminal acts by these agencies; some of which have had fatal consequences for innocent members of the community. At the very least, some others have been extra-judicial killings. Maurice examines the evidence and lists the offences. In many respects the title summarises the book and its conclusions. He explains how the many decades of conflict saw ‘organizational deviance’ on the part of the collective policing and military agencies. The book is an excellent study of how enthusiasm can lead to justification of illegal actions with deadly results.

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