New social movement theory and the reparations movement in Northern Ireland
: The case of the WAVE Injured Group and its Campaign for Recognition

  • Paul Gallagher

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Victims are one of the most important stakeholders in a peace process, but often the most powerless. This thesis explores this phenomenon by illuminating, through a sociological case study, the struggle for social change from one particular group of victims based in post-violence Northern Ireland: the WAVE Injured Group and its Campaign for Recognition. To offset their relative power imbalance, this new social movement engaged in contentious reparations politics and lobbied for bespoke material reparations, which they hoped would provide collective benefits to those injured during the Troubles. Guided by two intersecting theoretical frameworks, based on social movement theories and transitional justice scholarship, this thesis explores the chronological history of the campaign and the dynamic processes, which explain the origins of this movement, its active mobilisation, its framing strategies, and its interaction within dense informal networks. Faced with a series of social and political constraints, endemic to transitional societies, these victims employed a range of tactics in both the private and public spheres to maximise the support of influential allies and the wider public. Taking advantage of emergent political opportunities, thrown up by an ever-changing political milieu, this campaign, after nearly two decades of struggle, eventually secured a successful outcome in the form of a special injured pension. As an integral member of the WAVE Injured Group, this thesis provides a detailed insider’s account of the campaign, based on an extensive range of personal contacts and personal knowledge of the campaign. This was enhanced by relevant qualitative interview data and internal documents retrieved from the movement’s private collection. As such, this thesis conveys a substantial degree of originality into the career of a new social movement and its travails through the field of transitional politics.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorJohn Brewer (Supervisor) & Kieran McEvoy (Supervisor)


  • New social movements
  • reparations
  • transitional justice
  • competitive victimhood
  • Northern Ireland

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