Paul Bew

Paul Anthony Elliott Bew, Baron Bew (born 22 January 1950,[1])[2] is a Northern Irish historian. He has worked at Queen's University Belfast since 1979, and is currently Professor of Irish Politics, a position he has held since 1991.[2]

Academic career

Bew was born in Belfast. He attended Campbell College, Belfast, as a youth, before studying for his BA and PhD at Pembroke College, Cambridge. His first book, Land and the National Question in Ireland, 1858–82 was a revisionist study that challenged nationalist historiography by examining not only the clash between landowners and tenants, but the conflict between large and small tenants as well. His third book, a short study of Charles Stewart Parnell, challenged some of the arguments of the award-winning biography of Parnell by F. S. L. Lyons, though Lyons, one of the "doyens" of modern Irish history, acknowledged the young historian's arguments by stating that "Nothing Dr Bew writes is without interest."[3] Bew's central thesis is that Parnell was a fundamentally conservative figure whose ultimate aim was to secure a continuing position of leadership for the Protestant gentry in a Home Rule Ireland.

In 2007, Oxford University Press published Bew's Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006, which forms part of the Oxford History of Modern Europe series. The book has received positive reviews.[3][4][5]

Bew also acted as a historical advisor to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry between 1998 and 2001.[6]

Bew was also involved in the project by Boston College to record interviews by former participants in the Irish "Troubles", including former republican and loyalist paramilitaries.[7] In 2014, Gerry Adams criticised Bew's handling of the Boston College project, as well as the journalist Ed Moloney and the former IRA volunteer Anthony McIntyre. [7] [8] Adams claimed Bew had deliberately chosen Moloney and McIntyre because they were unsympathetic to Adams. [7] [8] Bew expressed regret over the closure of the project,and stated further oral history projects of the Troubles were now "under a cloud". [9]

Political involvement

Bew's political stance has changed somewhat over the years. In a 2004 interview for The Guardian, he stated that "While my language was more obviously leftwing in the 1970s than today, that sympathy has always been there".[2] As a young man, Bew participated in the People's Democracy marches. Bew was briefly a member of a group called the Workers' Association, which advocated the Two Nations Theory of Northern Ireland .[10] Bew was also a member of the Workers' Party of Ireland.[11] Later, Bew served as an adviser to David Trimble.[2] Trimble and Bew are both signatories to the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society,[12] which has been characterised as a neoconservative organisation.[13]

Bew's contributions to the Good Friday Agreement process were acknowledged with an appointment to the House of Lords as a life peer in February 2007.[14] He was created Baron Bew, of Donegore in the County of Antrim on 26 March 2007,[15] and sits as a crossbencher.

Lord Bew is chairman of The Committee on Standards in Public Life, an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government.


Bew is married to Greta Jones, a history professor at the University of Ulster, with whom he has one son.[2]




See also


  1. "Birthdays". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media: 33. 22 January 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Richards, Huw (9 March 2004). "Paul Bew: Belfast's history man". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  3. 1 2 Roy Foster (13 December 2007). "Partnership of loss". London Review of Books. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  4. Eoghan Harris (21 October 2007). "Badly needed corrective to vilification of Long Fellow". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  5. Michael Burleigh (18 November 2007). "Not all stout and oysters". London: The Times. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  6. Bew, Paul (2005). "The role of the historical adviser and the Bloody Sunday Tribunal". Historical Research. 78 (199): 113–127. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.2005.00240.x.
  7. 1 2 3 "Gerry Adams has welcomed the College’s decision to hand back the tapes. “The Boston College Belfast Project was flawed from the beginning.” he said yesterday. “It was conceived by Lord Paul Bew, ” he said. He proposed Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre despite the fact that both individuals were “extremely hostile” me and Sinn Fein, Mr Adams said". Boston College says it will return interviews about the North. The Irish Times, May 6th, 2014. Retrieved May 20th, 2014.
  8. 1 2 "Gerry Adams: I complained formally over police detention" The Guardian May 7th, 2014. Retrieved May 20th 2014.
  9. ""The prestige of Boston College will continue to grow but a project which had been designed as one of the jewels in the crown of a great library has gone.Other similar projects to use oral history as a means of dealing with the past in the Troubles are also, to say the least, under a cloud." Boston College Troubles archive closure a loss to history Belfast Telegraph, May 12th 2014. Retrieved May 20th, 2014.
  10. Godson, Dean. Himself alone: David Trimble and the ordeal of Unionism HarperCollins, 2004 (pg. 30).
  11. Brian Hanley & Scott Millar, The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party Penguin, 2010.
  12. "Signatories to the Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  13. David Clark (21 November 2005). "The neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain's bitter liberals". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  14. "Belfast academic becomes lord". The Irish Times. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 58287. p. 4595. 29 March 2007.

External links

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