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Paula Shilliday


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Personal profile

Research Focus

My PhD thesis investigates the role and significance of memorials and memorialisation in the aftermath of historical institutional abuse, from the perspective of victims and survivors and the general public. It focuses specifically upon the abuses within the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby institutions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The increasing importance of memorialisation in this context is demonstrated by its recommendation in official inquiries in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Australia as a response to historical clerical sexual abuse, and in Canada and Australia in relation to historical institutional child abuse against indigenous populations. Memorialisation has also been recommended following the Irish government’s investigation into the Magdalene Laundries, and is an anticipated outcome of the ongoing investigation into Mother and Baby institutions.

Transitional justice literature is the main strand of the research's twin theoretical framework, given the recent extension of this field, including memorialisation as a form of reparations, into the area of historical institutional abuse. Transitional justice literature informs the public dimension of remembrance in terms of non-repetition of the abuse, and the official (Church-State) dimension, as regards issues of acknowledgement, responsibility and accountability. Research in the field of death and cultural studies, including grief works literature, is the second strand of the theoretical framework. This informs the private dimension of remembrance, in terms of how memorialisation might address the deeply private trauma and grief of victims and survivors, as well as the absence of proper burials for women and children who died in the institutions.

Research Interests

Transitional justice; transitional societies; restorative justice; human rights; law and justice; memorials; memorialization and remembering; reparations; social justice; institutionalization; shame; private grief and trauma experiences of historical institutional abuse victims and survivors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; failure of the state; Church denial; issues of acknowledgement, responsibility and accountability; the role of society; empirical research to gain indepth understandings of the views of victims and survivors on remembrance of historical institutional abuse as well as public opinion


Awarded a Mitchell Institute (GRI) Scholarship from the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast (2017 - 2020)

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Research Output

  • 1 Other report

Response to Historical Institutional Abuse Consultation

Moffett, L., Shilliday, P., Gilmore, S., Millman, S., Clarke, A., Coulter, A., Slane, D., Bousquet, K., Hearty, M., Killean, R., Hearty, K., McAlinden, A-M. & Dowds, E., 10 Feb 2019, QUB Human Rights Centre. 72 p.

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Open Access


County Antrim Grand Jury Bursary

Shilliday, Paula (Recipient), 08 Oct 2019

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    • 3 Participation in conference

    QUB HRC Fifth Annual PhD Conference

    Sunneva Gilmore (Organiser), , Sunneva Gilmore (Speaker), , Paula Shilliday (Organiser), , Paula Shilliday (Speaker), , Luke Moffett (Invited speaker), & Eithne Dowds (Invited speaker)

    07 Jun 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    The Inaugural Annual Postgraduate Conference of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Innovation, Collaboration and Impact

    Paula Shilliday (Participant)

    21 Jun 201922 Jun 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    Towards Transitional Justice: Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland

    Paula Shilliday (Participant)

    01 Nov 201802 Nov 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference