Victimhood Status and Public Attitudes Towards Post-conflict Agreements: Northern Ireland as a Case Study

John D. Brewer, Bernadette C Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The rights and needs of victims have become an increasingly controversial issue in post-conflict societies. Yet to date, the views of victims concerning the new political arrangements in post-conflict settlements remain unexplored. Mindful of this omission and using Northern Ireland as a case study, this article investigates the relationship between victimhood status and attitudes towards the new political arrangements of devolved government in Northern Ireland, namely the Assembly and its power-sharing Executive. Based on the 2010 Northern Ireland Election Survey, the results suggest that individual victims – those who had directly and indirectly experienced violent instances and perceived themselves as victims – are notably more supportive of these new political arrangements and this relationship remains regardless of whether Protestants or Catholics are considered. A key factor in accounting for this phenomenon is their greater endorsement of its systems of governance, or underlying consociational principles of inclusion and decision making, as well as a positive view of its current political leaders. The Northern Ireland evidence suggests that victims can act as ‘moral beacons’, providing a positive and inclusive force for political accommodation and societal reconciliation in societies emerging from conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-461
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Early online date14 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • victims
  • Northern Ireland
  • post conflict agreements
  • consociationalism


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