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The Cost of the Troubles Study Limited

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The Cost of the Troubles Study Ltd

Who are we?

The Cost of the Troubles Study Ltd is a registered charity and a limited company. The Board of Directors is composed of a team of people from all parts of the religious/political spectrum who have all been directly affected by the violence of the troubles. The Board also contains two researchers, one full-time, - Marie Smyth, Research Fellow, INCORE (the United Nations University and the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) who is the project director and one part-time, Mike Morrissey, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, The University of Ulster and Director of The Urban Institute, Belfast. The project also employs two other members of staff, - Marie Therese Fay, the Research Officer and Sarah Oakes, the Project Administrator.

What are we doing?

Conducting action research which:

  • establishes a directory of self-help groups and other organisations which offer support to those affected by the troubles;
  • facilitates the building of a network throughout Northern Ireland among such groups and grass roots organisations;
  • documents the nature and extent of the effect of the troubles on the population of Northern Ireland;
  • establishes a credible measure of the distribution of the troubles in the six counties, and quantifies the relationship between the troubles and deprivation;
  • creates a range of well researched and accessible sources of qualitative and statistical information on the impact of the troubles on the range of people contained in the population.

This material will be written and disseminated in ways which maximise its accessibility, both to people in affected communities and to the general public. It will also be presented in a manner whereby it can be used by groups to argue for further resources for their self-help and other programmes.

How are we doing it?

  • by using a participative action research approach, which assumes that research is not a neutral activity, but that the research should make a positive contribution to those individuals and organisations participating in it;
  • by bringing research expertise to work in partnership with grass roots organisations, in a way that is democratically accountable;
  • by establishing and maintaining working relationships with individuals and groups who have direct experience in the field, and by using their expertise in the work of the project;
  • by using credible and professional qualitative and quantitative research techniques, and producing work which is both accessible to local people and capable of withstanding
  • academic scrutiny.

One of the most devastating effects of the troubles on people affected by the violence is the sense of disempowerment that many feel. We have planned research as a team composed of those who have been physically and emotionally affected by the troubles and researchers working in partnership. Collaboration across the sectarian divide is also a significant part of the work of the project. The directors and researchers are drawn from both sides of the sectarian divide and this is explicitly designed to ensure inclusiveness and to inform methods of work and the analysis.

Why are we doing it?

Research on the effects of the troubles has largely been psychiatric or psychological in focus, and has focused on specific populations, such as the Enniskillen bomb victims, There has been only one study which looks at the long term affects (20+ years) of violent loss in the troubles. Little or nothing is known about the extent of the impact of the troubles on the population as a whole. Those who do not seek services, - but nonetheless have suffered effects, - are undocumented. This lack of epidemiological information means that policy and service provision has been piecemeal or non-existent, partly because of piecemeal information, Recently, there has been an increase in the political will to address these issues and we are taking advantage of that climate to propose further work.

What is the value of it?

- to Northern Ireland as a whole

The study will provide reliable, non-sensationalist and ethically collected data on individual experiences of the troubles. This can act as an alternative source to some existing sources which do not share these characteristics, and will provide data for the first time on groups and individuals whose experiences have been under-represented. The establishment of the prevalence of troubles-related difficulties in the total population will be of value to policy-makers, and DHSS staff have described the availability of such data as very valuable. The study will also explore the relationship between troubles-related difficulties and deprivation, and this part of the study will have implications for a broad range of policy areas, including all of those agencies currently who are involved in using frameworks to target social need.

Who are we?

We are a group of people from both of the main traditions in Northern Ireland, who have been bereaved or injured in the troubles, and who work with two researchers.

What do we want to do?

We wish to collect evidence on the effect the troubles have had on everyone in Northern Ireland.

How will we do it?

We will carry out about forty interviews with men and women, old and young, Catholic, Protestant and "other", from various parts of Northern Ireland. These interviews will provide a variety of personal stories of people's experiences of the troubles. Later in 1997 and early in 1998 we will carry out a survey of a sample of 3,500 people throughout Northern Ireland who will be randomly chosen. We will ask people economic, health, social, occupational and other effects of the troubles on them.

We will publish the results of what we find, so that voluntary and government agencies can take into account the effects of the troubles and so that everyone becomes more aware of the issues and the situations in which people continue to live.

What will people get out of it?

People we interview will be listened to respectfully, and will have the chance to tell their story and have it listened to and carefully recorded. This record will be handled with discretion and confidentiality will be guaranteed for those who wish it. This can be valuable in a situation where some people, have the sense that no-one listens to them. When people want us to, we will put people in touch with helping agencies. Trained interviewers will give people information about where to go for advice and help should they need it, how to help themselves, and what voluntary groups exist for people affected by the troubles.

We will exhibit our range of findings for the general public, and publicise them in the media, so that the public know what we found and what we have concluded. We will also publish them in booklet form.

What if we ask you to be interviewed?

We may ask you to be interviewed; or you, or someone you know may wish to offer to be interviewed. If we interview you, we will guarantee following:

  • we will give you a complete transcript of your interview and you can make any changes
  • you want to it after the interview is over
  • anything we publish will be anonymous, unless you wish to put your name to it
  • anything we publish will be seen and agreed by you BEFORE we publish it
  • complete confidentiality will be guaranteed by us
  • you can withdraw your interview at any time before publication

We think our work is valuable, and we hope you agree. If you would like to know more about the project please contact us on 01232 747470 or 01232 742682 and we will answer any questions you have about our work.

Marie Smyth
Project Director

We can be contacted at:

The Cost of the Troubles Study
Unit 14, North City Business Centre
2 Duncairn Gardens
BT15 2GG

T: 01232 747470 or 01232 742682 (voice and fax)

The Cost of the Troubles is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee and not having share capital. We are funded by European sources, CCRU, and other charitable sources. The study will be conducted by people in communities with researchers from the University of Ulster, INCORE and the Urban Institute. A number of organisations such as Survivors of Trauma and WAVE are represented on our Board.


Half the Battle: Understanding the Effects of The Troubles on Children and Young People in Northern Ireland by Marie Smyth (1998). Derry Londonderry: INCORE. ISBN 0 9533305 2 4 Paperback 174pp £5.00

Do You See What I See? Young people's experience of the Troubles in their own words and photographs by the children and young people of: Sunningdale Youth Group; Survivors of Trauma, North Belfast; Woodvale Youth Group; Young people from The Alexander Park project in Belfast; Peace and Reconciliation Group, Derry Londonderry; with assistance from Joy Dyer (1998). Derry Londonderry: INCORE. ISBN 0 95333 05 1 6 Paperback 121pp £10.00 commercial sales; £5.00 and £2.50 unwaged and under 18s

Mapping Troubles-Related Deaths in Northern Ireland Marie Therese Fay, Mike Morrissey and Marie Smyth (1997). Derry Londonderry: INCORE. ISBN 1 85923 088 1 Paperback 80pp £3.50
[see also: selected tables from this publication]

Other Items

Submission by Marie Smyth to the Northern Ireland Commission on Victims

Second submission by Marie Smyth to the Northern Ireland Commission on Victims; 'Residual matters relating to victims of the Troubles in the light of the Agreement document'

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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