Lethal Connections: The Determinants of Network Connections in the Provisional Irish Republican Army, 1970-1998

Paul Gill, Jeongyoon Lee, Karl R. Rethemeyer, John Horgan, Victor Asal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Using stochastic methods we illustrate that the Provisional Irish Republican Army's (PIRA) network is clustered along three primary dimensions: (a) brigade affiliation, (b) whether the member participated in violent activities, and (c) task/role within PIRA. While most brigades tended to foster connections within the brigade (that is, "closure"), the tendency to do so varied across the organization. Members who engaged with violent activities were far more likely to connect with each other; in later periods there is polarization into those who engage in violent activities and those who do not. Across brigades, those who engage in a particular task and role (improvised explosive device [IED] constructor, IED planter, gunman, robber/kidnapper/drug smuggler/hijacker) are more likely to connect with others who do the same task or play the same role than with other members who fulfill other roles. Standard forms of homophily (that is, the tendency to make connections with people who are similar in terms of demography or status) play a very weak role in explaining which members interact with one another. Finally, our analysis illustrates clear patterns of relational change that correspond to changes in the formal structures that PIRA's leadership promoted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-78
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research under Grant #N00014-09-1 1123. All opinions expressed throughout this report are the responsibility of the researchers and those alone. They should not be viewed as supportive (or supported by) the Office of Naval Research, or any government office or agency.


  • conflict
  • network analysis
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Lethal Connections: The Determinants of Network Connections in the Provisional Irish Republican Army, 1970-1998'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this