COMMUNITIES IN TRANSITION: Experiences of living and working in areas of paramilitary control captured in new research
Queen’s University Belfast has launched new research that captures everyday experiences of living alongside paramilitary violence and coercive control.
The research, launched at Queen’s on Wednesday (May 24), brought together Policy Makers, Academics and Community Activists to hear about positive and negative experiences of those living and working in areas impacted by Paramilitary control.
This research, funded by the Executive Office, is part of the Communities in Transition project which seeks to support the transition of these sites to a point where paramilitary groups no longer exercise influence, and their activity is no longer as prevalent.
Between April and July 2022, Dr Brendan Sturgeon and Professor Dominic Bryan working in partnership with Co-operation Ireland, led a team of researchers in the design and development of 10 Area Reports, which would facilitate an overview of the sites within which the Communities in Transition (CIT) project is active.
Academics engaged 1400 unique participants to write the reports, which cover ten locations across the eight areas targeted by the programme.
Key outcomes from the research showed:
- 32 per cent of participants agree or strongly agreed that paramilitary groups had too much influence on young people in their area (this was well over double the response to the same question in the general population survey, the NI Life and Times Survey, where 12 per cent of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the same statement).
- 34 per cent felt that paramilitary groups created fear and intimidation in their area (this was double the response to the same question in the NI Life and Times Survey, where 17 per cent of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the same statement).
- 59 per cent indicated that improved relationships with the PSNI would help make people feel safer.
- 68 per cent of the total number of participants agreed or strongly agreed that there was a strong sense of community in their neighbourhood.
- 52 per cent indicated that paramilitary groups contributed to crime, drug dealing and ASB in their area (this was double the response to the same question in the NI Life and Times Survey,
where 26% of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the same statement).
- 27 per cent noted that paramilitary groups had a controlling influence in their area (this was over double the response to the same question in the NI Life and Times Survey, where 13% of participants agreed or strongly agreed with the same statement).
Co-operation Ireland Priority Team Leader Lucy Geddes said, “Co-operation Ireland is pleased to have supported Dr Sturgeon and Professor Bryan in their work which will now go to inform how we transition our communities away from the coercive control of paramilitaries.”
Dr Brendan Sturgeon said, “We have adopted an innovative mix-methods approach, which includes a Household Survey, in-depth Qualitative Interviews and a PGIS Spraycan Mapping Tool, to explore the current social condition of each of the sites where the Communities in Transition programme is active.”
Professor Dominic Bryan said, “It is important that we understand the complex role of played by paramilitary groups, understand how this is experienced by people and recognise the context around the use of coercive control including the economic vulnerability of these areas.”
The reports are available to download https://cooperationireland.org/projects/communities-in-transition-area-reports/