Informers and the transition in Northern Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Though criminological literature has paid attention to the use of informers in ordinary law enforcement, there is a research gap regarding their usage in contexts of conflict and political violence. This article explores the social, political and security functions of IRA informers in the transition from conflict in Northern Ireland. Based on that experience, it develops four heuristic models regarding informers that the paper argues may be of direct relevance to other conflicted and transitional societies. These are the informer as folk devil, the informer as rumour, the informer as political manipulator, and the informer as celebrity. All these themes demonstrate the long-term effects of the use of informers during the Northern Ireland conflict - an important finding given the increasing prevalence of the use of informers in a political context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-54
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Folk devils
  • Informers
  • Northern Ireland
  • Political violence
  • Rumours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Informers and the transition in Northern Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this