Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Collusion between state forces and non-state armed groups in illegal acts (including murder) was a feature of the ‘Troubles’ throughout the conflict. Often denied or framed through an exculpatory ‘dirty hands’, or ‘dirty war’ lens (Smith and Roberts 2008), collusion will be understood here as a specific form of coercive state practice and product of deep-seated social division. As such it raises fundamental questions about the relationship between state power, violence and the law. This chapter will therefore consider not only the record of collusion but what such extra-judicial violence says, more broadly, about the institutionalised coercive practices of the (post-) imperial, liberal-democratic state. To do so the chapter will first set out what collusion is before exploring some of the competing ways in which collusion has been theorised and explained. It will then look at how different patterns and forms of collusion have been understood. After examining some of the issues raised by the role collusion (and its continued denial) have played as part of the legacy landscape, the chapter will conclude by considering why collusion matters and what debates about its meaning tell us about struggles over memories of the ‘Troubles’ today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of the Northern Ireland Troubles
EditorsLaura McAtackney, Máirtín Ó Catháin
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781032124001
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2023


  • Collusion
  • Conflict
  • Northern Ireland Troubles
  • State Violence


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