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Abstract from 'Mapping Troubles-Related Deaths in Northern Ireland 1969-1994'

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Text: Marie Therese Fay, Mike Morrissey and Marie Smyth Page design: Martin Melaugh
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front cover of book Mapping Troubles-Related Deaths in Northern Ireland

Marie Therese Fay, Mike Morrissey and Marie Smyth
The Cost of the Troubles Study

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ISBN 1 85923 088 1
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Mapping Troubles- Related Deaths and Deprivation in Northern Ireland

Marie Therese Fay, Mike Morrissey and Marie Smyth

The Cost of the Troubles Study


This paper describes the compilation of a database on deaths in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which includes deaths which have occurred outside Northern Ireland and deaths due to Troubles-related trauma. Existing data sources on deaths in the Troubles are reviewed and analysed. Analysis of the newly compiled database has confirmed many of the findings and trends identified by others in previous work, if not in the numbers of deaths, then certainly in the high levels of death in the first half of the 1970's. Analysis of the new database has not supported the suggestion that deaths peak in the summer months, but rather October and November have emerged as the months with the highest death rates. Different cycles emerged among the organisations principally responsible for killings, with peaks of activity occurring at different points in the period 1969 - 1994. In terms of the distribution of deaths, the overwhelming majority of those killed in the Troubles have been male, with the death risk highest in the younger age groups in the 20-24 age group highest, and almost 26 percent of all victims aged 21 or less. Both in absolute and relative terms more Catholics than Protestants have been killed, and the death rate for Catholics is greater than that for Protestants, as other researchers have found. However, if we include Northern Ireland security forces deaths in the analysis, and exclude Catholics killed by Republican paramilitaries and Protestants killed by Loyalist paramilitaries, the death rates move somewhat closer: - 2.5 per 1,000 for Catholics and 1.9 per 1,000 for Protestants. Civilians are the largest category killed, and account for 53 percent of the total killed, with the British Army accounting for almost 15 pre cent. Republican paramilitaries account for almost 13 percent, the RUC account for 8 percent of those killed and the other groups each account for less than 6 per cent. In relation to perpetration of killings, Republican paramilitaries account for almost 59 per cent of all deaths, Loyalist paramilitaries for almost 28 per cent, the British Army for 9 per cent, the RUC for almost 2 per cent and other groups each for less than 1 per cent. Republican paramilitaries have killed 74 per cent of all Protestants killed, over 25 per cent of all Catholics, and almost 96 per cent of those who were classified as "Non Northern Ireland." Loyalist paramilitaries killed 19 per cent of all Protestants killed, almost 50 per cent of all Catholics and just 2 per cent of the "Non Northern Ireland " category. On the distribution of deaths, a death rate by ward was calculated and a concentration of deaths was found in Belfast, with only 15 of the 57 highest ranking wards outside the Belfast area. Derry Londonderry and Armagh account for most of the remaining wards.

The distribution of deaths in the Troubles was correlated with the Robson deprivation indicator, and whilst the wards with the highest death rates also score high on the Robson index, no overall statistical association between death rate and deprivation was found. The percentage change in the yearly death rate was correlated with changes in the Northern Ireland GDP and the numbers unemployed. Whilst a negative correlation was found between death rates and GDP, and a positive correlation between deaths and unemployment, this is probably spurious. Finally, deaths in the Troubles was compared with the annual suicide figures for Northern Ireland, and a negative correlation found, suggesting that suicide rose as deaths in the Troubles decreased. This is somewhat consistent with evidence from elsewhere and merits further investigation. Whilst the findings generally support those of earlier work, the assertion that the spatial distribution of deaths is associated with the spatial concentration of Catholics was not confirmed. Variations of between 5-10% were found in the total number of deaths found between the new database and previously existing lists. Assertions that the intensity of the Troubles meant that they ranked among the most serious of the world conflicts was not supported by preliminary international comparative work.

Future work will re-examine the relationship between deprivation and the spatial distribution of Troubles-related deaths, the relationship between economic trends and the Troubles and further work on mental health aspects will be conducted. New data on mental health, economic and other aspects of the effects of the Troubles will be generated by a survey of a sample of the population of Northern Ireland.

See also:

Background information on The Cost of the Troubles Study Ltd.

Selected tables from 'Mapping Troubles-Related Deaths in Northern Ireland 1969-1994'

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