No ordinary death: the Disappeared of Northern Ireland's conflict

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Peake, Sandra
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University College Cork
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This study is set within the context of the Northern Ireland Conflict, also known as the Troubles. The aim is to explore the impact of enforced disappearances on first and second generation family members. The study relates to the families of a group of people abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries during the Troubles. The research considers the influence of disappearances on the interpersonal relationships in the families involved and in the communities in which they lived. The project also examines the historical significance of intra-community deaths and of interactions with other elements of society that make up our society such as the church, health professionals, members of the police and government bodies from the period following the abduction to the present day. Disappearing individuals is a phenomenon that occurs and has occurred outside of NI’s Conflict. The researcher draws on the experiences of families in other conflicts around the world, whose loved ones were also disappeared by paramilitaries, to examine how the context to the violence impact on the individual and family experiences. The study was carried out using a Grounded Theory framework and involved interviewing 40 people (repeat measures) - parents, siblings, children and other family members of those abducted. The researcher is an insider researcher as she worked with and works as an advocate for the interviewees, both nationally and internationally, for a period in excess of twenty years. Analysis of the data gathered produced eight theoretical higher order concepts, underpinned by a number of higher and lower order categories. These concepts have been developed into a new theoretical framework called ‘Orchestrated Loss’, which explains the impact of enforced disappearance within a conflict situation on individuals, families and communities. This new theoretical framework offers an insight into the unique situation in which the families of those disappeared in politically motivated, conflict-related situations find themselves. It also offers a basis and future direction for additional research in an area that has been under researched, and which is complex and conceptually immature.
The Disappeared of the Troubles , Enforced disappearance , Northern Ireland conflict , Paramilitary disappearances , Intergenerational trauma , Delayed grief , Orchestrated loss
Peake, S. 2022. No ordinary death: the Disappeared of Northern Ireland's conflict. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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