Acts of Sacrifice: Exploring the Impact of Paramilitary Vigilantism on Victims and Communities in Northern Ireland

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Paramilitary vigilantism has been a feature of conflict in Northern Ireland since the earliest days of the Troubles. In that time, the vigilante campaigns have left over 115 people dead and more than 4,000 injured. Yet despite this toll, remarkably little research has been carried out on the subject. Now, in the sixth year since the 1994 ceasefires, paramilitary vigilantism has gradually emerged as one of the most critical issues in the Northern Ireland peace process. This article focuses on the impact the vigilantism has on its victims and on the wider communities. In doing so, it also addresses why the governments have hesitated to take strong action against the activity. The article attempts a multi‐layered analysis of the impact of an emotive, controversial and increasingly critical subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages25
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Northern Ireland
  • Troubles
  • Northern Ireland Troubles
  • vigilantism
  • paramilitaries
  • terrorism
  • victims

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