Rebel’s Dilemma: The changing relationship between the IRA, Sinn Fein and paramilitary vigilantism in Northern Ireland.

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The 40‐month period which has followed the introduction of the IRA's 1994 cease‐fire has witnessed the most intensive vigilante campaign ever carried out by the movement. A commitment to vigilantism has profoundly affected the evolution of both the policy and structure of Sinn Féin and the IRA. However, vigilantism bears costs for the two organizations and several serious attempts have been made by senior figures to end the practice. This article sets out to understand and describe the dynamics of militant republicanism's fluctuating commitment to vigilante violence, and in particular to understand the complex issues vigilantism has raised within Sinn Féin and the IRA in the past three decades. The article concludes that the two organizations are now irretrievably committed to vigilantism, and short of major RUC reform, they will be unable to end what has become a politically‐damaging policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-93
Number of pages39
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Irish Republican Army
  • Sinn Fein
  • vigilantism
  • terrorism
  • Northern Ireland
  • Northern Ireland Troubles
  • Troubles

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