Moral Injury in Provisional IRA Members: Preliminary Evidence of Moral Beliefs Injuring, Protecting & Disillusioning

Eke Bont

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Moral injury has recently gained much attention in the field of military psychiatry. However, it has not yet been applied to actors of non-state political violence. Investigating the incidence of moral injury in these populations would increase the understanding of the negative psychological effects of engagement in non-state political violence. This study examined whether moral injury could be applied to former Provisional IRA members who were active during the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Nine autobiographical sources from former Provisional IRA members were qualitatively analyzed through interpretative phenomenological analysis. This analysis revealed preliminary evidence of morally injurious experiences and symptoms, and how these symptoms were coped with through reparative actions. There was also evidence of moral disillusionment with the Provisional IRA, and evidence of protective factors that decreased susceptibility to moral injury. The preliminary evidence of moral injury in this population supports the applicability of the concept and indicates that further investigation is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2020


  • Moral injury
  • Provisional IRA
  • autobiography
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • psychological distres

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