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Dr Thomas Leahy

Dr Thomas Leahy

Senior Lecturer in Politics

School of Law and Politics

Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I re-joined Cardiff University in September 2017 as a lecturer in British and Irish politics and contemporary history.

My areas of specialism include:

-the Northern Ireland conflict and intelligence war

-Irish republicanism since 1969

-Politics in and about the north of Ireland since 1998

-Post-conflict reconciliation and dealing with the past

-Insurgencies and counter-insurgencies

-Conflict

-Comparative peace processes.

Biography

Education and qualifications:

2019- Higher Education Academy, Fellow.

2015 – History PhD, King’s College London.

2011 – Master of Research in Modern History (Distinction), King’s College London.

2010 – BA (honours) History (First-class), King’s College London.

Honours and awards

2019 - Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation grant for impact research.

2019 - Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation grant for the Irish Historians in Britain Conference (2021)

2016-2018 – Economic and Social Research Council impact initiator and accelerator account.

2016-17 – Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland Galway, Republic of Ireland.

2016 – Scouloudi historical research award, London.

2014 - Political Studies Association Ireland postgraduate bursary award to present at their annual conference in Galway, Ireland.

2013 – King’s College London continuation scholarship for PhD studies, London.

2011 – The Worshipful Company of Bowyer’s best MA dissertation prize on a military historical theme, King’s College London.

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Political Studies Association Ireland.
  • Member of the Political Studies Association.
  • Member of the European Consortium of Political Research Political Violence Section.
  • Member of the British International Studies Association.
  • Member of the Secrecy and Ignorance Network (SPIN) with GW4 partner institutions.

Academic positions

I was an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow until September 2017 at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Republic of Ireland. In 2016, I worked for Cardiff University and taught a third-year module on the Northern Ireland conflict. I was awarded my History PhD at King’s College London in September 2015.

Speaking engagements

Speaking engagements:

I have presented my research to academic audiences including at:

-King’s College London

-the Political Studies Association Ireland Conferences

-The Irish historians in Britain conference

-The European Consortium of Political Research conference

The Divided Societies conference in Dubrovnik (Croatia).

I have also presented my research to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in June 2019.

Committees and reviewing

-Grant reviewer ESRC

-Grant reviewer for the AHRC

-Peer reviewer for Irish Political Studies

Teaching

Undergraduate level

- First-year undergraduate, 'Introduction to Government study skills'

-Final-year undergraduate, 'Bombs, Bullets and Ballot Boxes: The Northern Ireland Conflict'

Masters

-Conflict and Peace: Northern Ireland, 1969 to 2020 (IR masters students)

-Politics in and about Northern Ireland since 1998 (with Dr Jonathan Kirkup) (Politics and Public Policy and Welsh Politics students)

I have supervised various undergraduate and masters students for their dissertations.

PhD

I supervise a PhD student who researches locally raised security forces during the Northern Ireland conflict.

I am happy to supervise research students in the following areas:

  • Any aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process.
  • Northern Irish politics since 1998.
  • Dealing with the past and post-conflict reconciliation in relation to Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • The intelligence war in Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • Peace processes and negotiations to end small-scale conflicts in relation to Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • British-Irish relations.
  • Irish Republicanism.

My previous research focuses on key aspects of the Northern Irish conflict and intelligence war between the Irish Republican Army and British state and politics in Northern Ireland since 1969.

My research has engaged with, and will continue to evaluate, wider questions in conflict and peace studies, including the impact of intelligence campaigns and inclusion/exclusion on peace processes on the island of Ireland and elsewhere.

Book

My first book The Intelligence War Against the IRA was published recently in paperback and hardback with Cambridge University Press. I conducted research including interviews with various conflict participants to provide a regional evaluation of whether British intelligence forced the Irish Republican Army (IRA) into peace by 1998. I suggest various reasons why British intelligence did not force the IRA into peace. One of the key takeaway messages from the book for comparative studies is that talking to armed groups with at least a sizeable minority of political support was crucial to helping peace emerge in N.Ireland. The book has sold well across the UK, Ireland and further afield.

Publications

The Intelligence War Against the IRA (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2020)

'The politics of Troubles memories in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, 1998 to 2018' in Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research (2019)

Thomas Leahy and Niall Ó Dochartaigh, ‘Citizenship on the ethnic frontier: nationality, migration and rights in Northern Ireland since 1920’, in Steven G. Ellis (ed.), Enfranchising Ireland?: Identity, Citizenship and State (Royal Irish Academy, 2018)

Thomas Leahy, 'The influence of informers and agents on Provisional Irish Republican Army military strategy and British state counter-insurgency strategy, 1976-1994', in Twentieth Century British History (2015) Volume 26, Issue 1, 122-146.

My other research details above engages with key questions about conflict and peace processes using N.Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as case studies. I use a range of interview, archival, memoir and other research methods in my research.

Current research projects include:

-Informers and conflict legacy with Eleanor Leah Williams (Queens University Belfast).

-IRA cessations and British withdrawal with Professor Niall Ó Dochartaigh (NUI Galway)

-The Irish state and dealing with conflict legacy

Impact work

I am currently collaborating with colleagues and also external stakeholders in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland who participated or observed the Northern Irish conflict to ensure that my research achieves a significant impact beyond academia, particularly in relation to debates about dealing with conflict-legacy on the island of Ireland.

I have received funding for impact and research from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Government of Ireland Fellowship, the Scouloudi Foundation, Cardiff University and King’s College London.

Currently, I am investigating the role of the Irish state in dealing with conflict legacy on the island of Ireland. I engage with victims/survivors, political parties north and south, alongside British and Irish governments and security forces on this topic.

Impact work has included presenting my research to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in June 2019: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_the_implementation_of_the_good_friday_agreement/2019-06-20/3/

Media contributions

My research has been reviewed in various media outlets. I have also discussed my work in multiple media outles including the examples below:

- 'British intelligence did not force the IRA into peace', Irish Times, 12 June 2020

-'Did British intelligence force the IRA into peace?', RTÉ Brainstorm, 12 February 2020

-'Irish Government urged to investigate Troubles Killings' in the Republic', Belfast Telegraph, 20 June 2019

Supervision

I am happy to supervise research students in the following areas:

  • Any aspects of the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process.
  • Northern Irish politics since 1998.
  • Dealing with the past and post-conflict reconciliation in relation to Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • The intelligence war in Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • Peace processes and negotiations to end small-scale conflicts in relation to Northern Ireland or in comparison with Northern Ireland.
  • British-Irish relations.
  • Irish Republicanism.

Areas of expertise

External profiles