Paramilitary Research

Mari Fitzduff

Professor and Director of the MA Conflict and Coexistence Programme at Brandeis University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

My own personal work showed that there was three reasons people became paramilitaries.

One was mother's milk stuff. It was in the family. That would be very much the Adams and McGuinness. They could not have been republicans, given the context and the people they were.

The second was very much an intervention with the local security forces or their folk being blown up by the IRA. All of these interventions often spawned a reaction, which actually of course increased the number of people who were prepared to use violence.

The third one was very much the male thing, particularly among the loyalists. Sort of the need for meaning, particularly for disenfranchised, unempowered young men.

One of the interesting pieces of research we're doing at the moment is showing that in Algeria the war was mostly the young men who leaned against the walls. The need to be heroic that is around for all young men can either go one way or another in a conflict, and often if they're dis-empowered, disenfranchised, the idea of the gun as power is something that is so attractive to them.