When is a justice campaign over? Transitional justice, ‘overing’ and Bloody Sunday

Thomas Bentley* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores the political, strategic and emotional issue of victim groups deciding to continue or discontinue central components of a justice campaign in the aftermath of receiving ‘truth’. Drawing on in-depth interviews, the article focuses on relatives and other stakeholders’ varying positions on (dis)continuing the annual Bloody Sunday commemoration march after the publication
of the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the UK Prime Minister’s apology for the massacre. I demonstrate that there has emerged an, at times, acrimonious debate between those who feel the apology and report were sufficient to stop the march and those who believe them to be insufficient. Thus, while much of the literature on political apology evaluates its effects on the dyadic relationship between victim and perpetrator, this article develops Sara Ahmed’s concept of ‘overing’ to demonstrate that the ostensible moment of truth can create unanticipated and deleterious intravictim tensions. The article concludes by suggesting practical measures emerging from the findings
that other justice campaigns may consider.If you’ve been involved in a campaign, it’s often hard to say, “It’s over, it’s done and dusted, we’ve gone as far as we can, I want to involve myself in other things.” But I think what’s interesting about the Bloody Sunday families is you see both. There are some people, some relatives, close relatives, who are basically saying, “Look, I no longer want to be drawn in every time. As far as I’m concerned, Bloody Sunday is over, we did the best we can, we got a good result and I want to live my life”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-413
Number of pages20
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number4
Early online date31 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Open Access offered via Jisc Sage Agreement
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/ or publication of this article: Research for this article was funded by The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.


  • Bloody Sunday
  • justice campaign
  • ‘overing’
  • political apology
  • ‘truth’
  • &#8216
  • truth&#8217
  • overing&#8217


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