Paramilitary Public Symbolic Displays In Northern Ireland: A Content And Geospatial Analysis

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Bringing Down Divides

Series Title

Research In Social Movements, Conflicts And Change


In 2010, 12 years after the signing and popular ratification of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (BGFA), the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons, and a significant decline in political violence, paramilitary public symbolic displays (PSDs) remained as prominent features of the landscape of Northern Ireland. Their contents and locations constituted an important, contradictory, and contested part of the peace process. We argue that paramilitary murals and other symbolic sites, such as memorial gardens and plaques, continue to tap into ethno-national collective identities forged in conflict but also exhibit a range of reframing strategies that we refer to as historicization, articulation, and suppression. We further argue that contextual factors affect the likelihood of these displays appearing within a given geographic area. To assess these hypotheses, we conduct content and geospatial analyses of all identified PSDs in West Belfast in 2010. The results lend support to a context-sensitive approach to predicting the contents and locations of paramilitary PSDs in Northern Ireland.


Northern Ireland, Murals, Geography, Conflict transformation, Paramilitaries, Culture

Published By



L. Leitz and E. Y Alimi

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