London during the Troubles: The Irish experience

As an Irish citizen studying here, I am all too aware of the strong Irish presence in London. Over the past few months, I have grown curious about how my experience would have differed if I had moved here a few decades ago, during the Troubles. ‘The Troubles’ refers to the ethno-nationalist conflict that occurred primarily in Northern Ireland from the 1960s until 1998. In this period, the provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) moved some of the focus of their terrorist campaign on England. London targets were hit by a series of bomb attacks in the 1970s and 1980s. I would like to interview a person who lived here to understand their experience during this time. I am curious about how their British neighbours and co-workers related to them in the midst of the Irish-English tensions and fear. I want to explore the person’s background and arrival to the UK; their experience living in London as an immigrant; their relationships with co-workers and friends; experience of the IRA terrorist campaign, and how that impacted on life in their new city. Although it is considered to have ended in the late 1990s, there have been sporadic attacks in recent years. Therefore, my concerns about interviewing somebody on this topic revolve around the sensitivity of the events. This is particularly important as religious and cultural identity can be incredibly significant for Irish citizens as a result of our complex history. I am hopeful that my upbringing in Ireland can help to add awareness and sensitivity to questioning. The opportunity to interview someone about this time would be an extremely valuable experience.

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