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Professor Neil Ferguson discusses terrorism at Psychology Colloquium

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Professor of Political Psychology Neil Ferguson presented an invited paper at the Paris Political Psychology Colloquium.

Speaking at the event held at the Laboratoire Parisien de Pschologie Sociale at the University of Paris Nanterre, Professor Ferguson looked at ‘Disengaging from terrorism; A Northern Irish Experience’.

He talked about the disengagement and deradicalisation experiences of Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries from the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando.

In an extract from his paper, Professor Ferguson said: “Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to develop an understanding of how the former combatants interpreted and made sense of their disengagement from violence extremism in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Agreement.

“The analysis of the interviews focuses around push and pull factors, which either promote or hinder their ability to move away from violent extremism. The results find a resonance with recent research exploring disengagement and deradicalisation processes with terror groupings across the globe and the ideological spectrum.

“The findings are discussed in relation to a number of topics, including the role of prison, barriers to disengagement, continued commitment and radicalisation after desistence from violent extremism, the role of life changes in promoting disengagement and how organisational pressures contain and influence individual disengagement.”

Professor Neil Ferguson was recently awarded an ESRC grant through the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) based at Lancaster University.

The £62,150 grant is for a project titled “Learning and unlearning terrorism: The transition from civilian life into paramilitarism and back again during the conflict and peace process in Northern Ireland”.

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