From Instruments of Protests to Instruments of Legacy: The Transformation of Legacy Campaigning Tools in NI

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The implementation of mechanisms to address legacy issues is fundamental in a society’s transition from conflict. Mechanisms, such as truth commissions, have been used to emphasise the need for truth and reconciliation for a restorative sense of justice to be societally achieved whilst other mechanisms, such as criminal prosecutions, have been utilised to install a retributive sense of justice that opposes impunity and champions accountability. Despite the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday/ Belfast Agreement approaching, adequate mechanism(s) to address the past in Northern Ireland/North of Ireland (NI) are yet to materialise. Attempts have been made and mechanisms have been devised. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was established to investigate the mountain of unsolved conflict related deaths whilst the Eames-Bradley Report and the Stormont House Agreement outlined plausible legacy mechanisms to the British government. The effectiveness of the former, though, was hindered by budgetary and practical limitations whilst the latter two failed to be implemented. Victims in NI have consequently experienced continuous disappointment and frustration. These collective feelings have sparked the creation of campaigns which simultaneously demonstrate their disapproval and advocates for effective legacy mechanisms. This has included the use of art, film, and ordinary objects to illustrate testimonies of victimisation and their plight for justice. As this paper will show, an often-unforeseen by-product of initially employing these instruments of protest has been their transformation into instruments of legacy themselves.
Period9 Jun 2023
Event titleSociological Association of Ireland: Illuminating Legacies
Event typeConference
Conference number50
LocationDublin, IrelandShow on map


  • Memory Activism
  • Northern Ireland
  • Campaigning
  • Transitional Justice