Professor Marie Breen-Smyth

View the re-edited version of Marie's film 'And Then There Was Silence...' about the impact of political violence on people in Northern Ireland. 

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 3138

Find me on campus
Room: 09 AC 05

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My office hours

Mondays and Wednesdays 9.30-10.30am


Journal articles

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2013) 'Injured and disabled casualties of the Northern Ireland conflict: Issues in immediate and long-term treatment, care and support'. Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 29 (3), pp. 244-266.


    Even though injury due to armed conflict is more commonly caused than death, research into injury due to Northern Ireland's four decades of otherwise exhaustively documented conflict is sparse. This article reports on a 2011 study based on interviews with 30 people seriously physically injured in the conflict and 20 of their carers and a self-administered questionnaire survey of a further 90 people injured in political violence in Northern Ireland. All injured respondents reported that emergency medical emergency treatment had been excellent. Those injured in the 1970s reported low expectations of their life expectancy and rehabilitation, a lack of psychological support and lack of help with chronic injury-related conditions. More recently injured people had psychological support and were more successfully rehabilitated but those injured earlier often saw it as 'too late' for psychological help. Influences on well-being seem to be: changing professional standards and awareness; policies acknowledging of the effects of conflict; anti-discrimination legislation; development of rehabilitation services; and the reform of disability benefits. Inter alia, health professionals' attitudes towards victims and their treatment of injury appear to have a significant influence on outcomes for injured people. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2012) 'An interview with George Giacaman'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Critical Studies on Terrorism, 5 (1), pp. 139-145.
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2010) 'Terrorism, war and the economy of scale: An interview with Ted Goodnight'. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 3 (3), pp. 459-466.
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'Hierarchies of Pain and Responsibility: Victims and War by Other Means in Northern Ireland'. Universitat Ramon Lull Tripodos, Spain: 25, pp. 27-40.
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'The Challenge of Researching Political Terror Critically'. The Cordoba Foundation Arches Quarterly, 3 (4), pp. 65-70.
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Frameworks for peace in Northern Ireland: Analysis of the 1998 Belfast Agreement'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Strategic Analysis, 32 (6), pp. 1131-1156.


    The 1998 Belfast Agreement brought to an end over three decades of armed conflict in Northern Ireland. This paper summarizes the role of actors within and outside Northern Ireland, and the processes and mechanics of the Agreement itself. The Agreement is placed in the context of previous unsuccessful peace initiatives in the region, and elements within the political and economic environment at the time that facilitated agreement are identified. The consociational nature of the Agreement is set alongside concern about continuing sectarian division. It is argued that the Agreement was as much a product of previous failed attempts and the changed economic and political environment as it was a product of the negotiations. The Belfast Agreement is evaluated and tentative lessons for the Arab–Israeli and other peace processes are delineated.

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Lessons learned in counter-terrorism in Northern Ireland: an interview with Peter Sheridan'. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 1 (1), pp. 111-123.
  • Breen-Smyth M, Gunning J, Jackson R, Kassimeris G, Robinson P. (2008) 'Critical Terrorism Studies–an introduction'. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 1 (1), pp. 1-4.

Conference papers

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'Critical ‘Terrorism’ Studies, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: ‘Suspect’ Communities and the paradoxical role of detention and rendition as prophylaxis or consolidation'. " London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of International Relations.: Symposium on Detention and Rendition in the "War on Terror
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'Critical ‘Terrorism’ Studies, Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: the case of ‘Suspect’ Communities’'. University of Helsinki: Conference on Terrorism: Myths, Agendas and Research
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'The Future of Critical Terrorism Studies’'. New York, USA: International Studies Association Annual Convention,
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Achieving Peace but Not Love: the importance of limitation in ending terror'. Aberystwyth, UK: Conference on Ending Political Violence
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Religion and Northern Irish Political Violence: A Mixed Blessing?'. Manchester/ University of Salford: Lecture, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) '‘Religion and Northern Irish Political Violence: A Mixed Blessing?'. Aberystwyth University: Lecture, Religion and Politics Research Group,
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Frameworks of conflict management: The Northern Ireland Assembly’'. New Delhi: Workshop: Conflict Management for Parliamentarians from North East India, Jammu and Kashmir
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'The Other End of the Telescope: reconsidering the effects of political violence in context’'. Boston, Massachusetts: 116th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Geographies of conflict : meanings and effects of political violence'. San Francisco: International Studies Association Annual Convention,
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Measuring the human costs of conflict: lessons learned from the Cost of the Troubles Study in Northern Ireland'. Bonn: Workshop: Engaging with Victims and Perpetrators in Transitional Justice and Peace Building Processes. Organised by the Working Group on Development and Peace (FriEnt)


  • Breen-Smyth M. (2012) The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Violence. London : Ashgate Publishing


    Aimed at scholars, students and lay persons interested in peace and conflict studies, The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Violence is a comprehensive resource to understand the principal debates on political violence, a field which is becoming an increasingly important part of courses on peace and conflict. Organized into seven main sections, this volume deals with a wide range of issues covering the following important research areas: · Issues of definition and nomenclature and how contests over these relate to political violence · Theoretical frameworks and methods for understanding and researching political violence · Motivations and goals of those who use political violence · The various forms of political violence · Perspectives on countering political violence, by state and non-state actors · Why and how political violence ends · The aftermath of political violence Contributions by leading scholars in the field provide an authoritative guide and source book on political violence for the scholar, the researcher and the informed general reader.

  • Jackson R, Breen-Smyth M, Gunning J, Jarvis L. (2011) Terrorism: A critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan


    In the years since 9/11, terrorism has been transformed into an issue of global significance. Terrorism and the war on terror has affected virtually every aspect of modern life, and a precise understanding of terrorism is now more important – and contentious – than ever. This innovative text provides a much-needed critical introduction to terrorism. Cutting-edge research on contemporary issues is combined with new insights into long-debated issues such as the definition of terrorism, the nature of the terrorist threat and counter-terrorism strategies. Showing that the methods we adopt as well as the material we study are vital for a clear understanding of the subject, this text goes beyond traditional IR approaches to rethink popular beliefs and assumptions about terrorism. Taking a genuinely global and integrated approach, this book is an ideal entry into the study of terrorism. The text is supported by: • International case studies from around the world • A detailed glossary introducing key actors, events and concepts relating to terrorism • Learning aids to stimulate critical thinking, including discussion questions, further readings and selected web resources

  • Jackson R, Breen Smyth M, Gunning J. (2009) Critical Terrorism Studies. A new research agenda.. Abingdon : Routledge


    In response to the growth of a critical perspective on contemporary issues of terrorism, this edited volume brings together a number of leading scholars to debate the new subfield of 'critical terrorism studies'. In the years since the 9/11 attacks, terrorism studies has undergone a major transformation from minor subfield of security studies into a large stand-alone field, and is probably one of the fastest expanding areas of research in the Western academic world. However, much of the literature is beset by a number of problems, limiting its potential for producing rigorous empirical findings and genuine theoretical advancement. In response to these weaknesses in the broader field, a small but increasing number of scholars have begun to articulate a critical perspective on contemporary issues of terrorism. This volume brings together a number of leading scholars to debate the need for and the shape of this exciting new subfield.The first part of the volume examines some of the main shortcomings and limitations of orthodox terrorism studies, while the second examines exactly what a 'critical' terrorism studies would look like. Contributors from a variety of methodological and disciplinary perspectives give this volume diversity, and it will lay the foundations for, and provoke debate about, the future research agenda of this new field. This book will be of much interest to students of critical security studies, terrorism studies and IR theory in general.

Book chapters

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2011) 'Reconciliation and Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland'. in Spencer A, Renner J (eds.) Reconciliation after Terrorism: Strategy, Possibility or Absurdity? Routledge
  • Breen-Smyth M, Jackson R, Gunning J. (2009) 'Critical Terrorism Studies’'. in Fagan H, Munck R (eds.) Globalization and Human Security: An Encyclopaedia Volume 1 Economic and Political Aspects USA : Praeger Security Press
  • Breen-Smyth M, Gunning J, Jackson R. (2009) 'Introduction. The Case for Critical Terrorism Studies'. in Jackson R, Breen Smyth M, Gunning J (eds.) Critical terrorism studies: A new research agenda Abingdon : Routledge/Taylor & Francis
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'Subjectivities, “Suspect Communities” and the Ethics of Research on Terrorism’'. in Jackson R, Breen Smyth M, Gunning G (eds.) Critical terrorism studies: A new research agenda Abingdon : Routledge/Taylor & Francis
  • Jackson R, Gunning J, Breen-Smyth M. (2009) 'Critical Terrorism Studies: Framing a New Research Agenda'. in Jackson R, Breen Smyth M, Gunning J (eds.) Critical terrorism studies: A new research agenda Abingdon : Routledge/Taylor & Francis
  • Breen-Smyth M. (2008) 'Dealing with the past and the politics of victim-hood'. in O'Hagan L (ed.) Stories In Conflict: Towards Understanding and Healing Derry/Londonderry : YES Publications

Internet publications

  • Breen-Smyth M. (2009) Romanian Roma families driven out of Belfast. e-International Relations

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