Orla Kerrigan: “The Unspoken Conflict? The Impact and Legacy of Sexual Violence during the Northern Irish Troubles”

In Students by General Account

This research represents one of the first, in-depth exploration of conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) during the Troubles 1964-1998 in Northern Ireland (NI) and its long-term impacts for survivors and the wider community. It is unique in that it includes state and non-state perpetrators, and it challenges the framing and conceptualisation of what constitutes CRSV and NI’s position as ‘post-conflict’. 


The Good Friday Agreement 1998, brought about a new era in NI which promised peace and redress for those who suffered during the conflict. However, it furnished a state-centric and institutional framework, which focused on ‘conventional violence’ only, meaning that it failed to acknowledge let alone address gender-based violence and CRSV. The neglect of CRSV is exacerbated further given that the state, victim support organisations and wider society have avoided acknowledging CRSV, instead framing it as a few isolated incidents rather than the plight of a neglected and forgotten population. This research seeks to address this by highlighting the presence of CRSV in NI, state and paramilitary perpetrators, the impact on victims of CRSV and explores mechanisms for redress. It uses a mixed methods approach involving archival research and qualitative semi-structured interviews, allowing the voices and experiences of victims to be heard. 

As one of the first in-depth exploration of CRSV in NI, the impacts of this research are significant at an individual, local, national, and international level and it has substantial implications for policy and practice, particularly regarding mechanisms for redress and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.