Disengaging from Terrorism: A Northern Irish Experience
Keywords:disengagement, deradicalization, terrorism, Northern Ireland, extremism, radicalization
This article explores the disengagement and deradicalization experiences of Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC). Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to develop an understanding of how the former combatants interpreted and made sense of their disengagement from violence extremism in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Agreement. The analysis of the interviews focusses around push and pull factors which either promote or hinder their ability to move away from violent extremism. The results find a resonance with recent research exploring disengagement and deradicalization processes with terror groupings across the globe and the ideological spectrum. The findings are discussed in relation to a number of topics, including the role of prison, barriers to disengagement, continued commitment and radicalization after desistence from violent extremism, the role of life changes in promoting disengagement and how organizational pressures contain and influence individual disengagement.
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