skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 136323 Find in a Library
Title: Career Moves: Reflections on the Irish Gunman
Journal: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism  Volume:15  Issue:1  Dated:(January-March 1992)  Pages:69-88
Author(s): J B Bell
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 20
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Based on the author's generation of contacts with the militant Irish republican movement in general and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in particular, this article profiles the recruitment, characteristics, and careers of the IRA gunman.
Abstract: The profile of the IRA gunman is set in the context of the history and goals of the IRA. The needs and attractions of the IRA over a 20-year period show only a slightly different sociological profile in the volunteer. In the beginning, there was a greater variety of ages and backgrounds. The current deployed Irish volunteer is relatively young, although lately tending to become older; male; Roman Catholic; working-class without technical or professional skills; with local connections to the movement; with a sense of just grievance; and a soldier intimate with his area and supported by those of like mind. The volunteer is thus typically limited, provincial, pragmatic, idealistic, and dedicated to the IRA faith in the eventuality of a United Ireland. The volunteer is taught little in recruits class, except the validity of the IRA faith, so the volunteer must learn through experience in the field, where craft is crucial to survival, and the attrition rate is high. A successful volunteer must acquire survival skills and the capacity to be effective militarily. These skills depend upon the ability to adjust to and counter the competence of the British military. Attractive British targets are increasingly protected, and intelligence operations are effective. On active service, a gunman, even if not on the wanted list or the suspects' list, must emerge from cover to operate. The target is always protected, and the gunman is always vulnerable. Gunmen who survive for any length of time while being effective militarily are rare. The ideal gunman has a relatively long effective career and dies as a martyr. Most have short, often brutal operational careers. The lucky are captured and retired, often with long sentences.
Main Term(s): Terrorist profiles
Index Term(s): Irish Republican Army (IRA); Northern Ireland
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.