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Title: "Eighteen and half years old - ordinary young men, extraordinary times" : a biographical study into the temporal life-histories of former Loyalist paramilitaries in the Ulster Volunteer Force and its associated groups
Author: Mitchell, William
ISNI:       0000 0004 0134 8826
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Over the course of Northern Ireland's recent political conflict, categorised as 'The Troubles', a number of research studies into the involvement of former paramilitaries have been conducted. For example, various studies have focused on the reintegration of former paramilitaries back into their communities, while others focused on the involvement of former paramilitaries in conflict resolution and DOW former paramilitaries are dealing with the past. However, to this date, none have explored in any detail the situational forces and systemic influences that contributed to the transformation of ordinary young men into paramilitary killers. This six year, Ph. D. study seeks to fill this void by investigating what led ordinary young men to join paramilitary groups and perpetrate violence. Throughout this thesis, I will persistently repeat that seeking to understand such situational and systemic influences, on the participants in this investigation, is not an attempt to excuse them from, or absolve them of, their actions. This sociological study examines the biographical narratives of former Loyalist paramilitaries from inner city Belfast. The individuals under investigation are former political prisoners who were members of the paramilitary group known as the Ulster Volunteer Force, (UVF) or its associated groups namely the Young Citizen Volunteers, (YCV) and Red Hand Commando (RHC). Fourteen narratives have been captured using the method known as the Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM) containing the personal accounts of the respondents. Two of the fourteen narratives are presented as case studies and are the main focus of the thesis. These oral histories offer a perspective on the past now which the narrators did not have at the time but which has emerged in the reflection on and telling of their stories. The additional twelve narratives are considered satellite cases from which material is used in support or otherwise of the two case studies. The retrospective period being investigated is from their earliest memories until their time of arrest. The specific relevance of this study is that it focuses on the situational factors which are influential in seeking to understand why ordinary young men, some of whom were still at school, engaged in the conflict at its most violent period, (1972-1975), and became killers. In addition, it aims to contribute an additional perspective to the body of literature on paramilitarism in Northern Ireland. The study is borne out of the personal experience of being a former political prisoner myself and has emerged out of consistent contact with former political prisoners over the past twenty years, during the course of my community development practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available