Nor Meekly Serve My Time': Irish Political Prisoners and the Struggle for Legitimacy within the Penal Systems of the United Kingdom and Ireland, 1916-1946

Thomas Carey : History

Mentor: Professor James Vernon

In political struggle, establishing the legitimacy of a cause is the key to founding and maintaining popular support. How then, do political prisoners labeled as "criminals" and "terrorists" by the governments they oppose proceed to gain a semblance of legitimacy? With this question in mind, Thomas will examine the condition of Irish political prisoners within the context of the modern British and Irish penal systems. He will trace the evolution of governmental and institutional policies, aimed at containing Nationalist combatants and suspected sympathizers, which exploited modes of extralegal incarceration. In addition, he will examine responses by prisoners who engaged in acts of protest --both to improve their material conditions and as propaganda to further the Nationalist cause -- as part of a coercive dialogue between themselves and the state.