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Patrick Flack, Postgraduate Research Student

PhD Student Patrick FlackContact Details


Office: 4th floor PhD office

Project Details

First Supervisor: Dr Mirona Gheorghiu

Second Supervisor: Dr Dominic Bryan (Irish Studies Gateway)

PhD Title: Identity Change amongst Loyalist Paramilitary Organisations in Northern Ireland

Summary of Project: The scope of this project is to investigate the question of identity change amongst loyalist paramilitary organisations, one of the less rigorously studied groups in the aftermath of the conflict. The case of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland is particularly relevant given the dramatic change between the function they performed during the Troubles and their current one. Although the main condition that has justified their existence (armed conflict) is no longer in place, psychological membership to an organisation is difficult to give up especially when dictated from outside the group. Instead, group members are more likely to engage in a process of re-defining their group and, hence, the meaning of their identity.

The project seeks to understand how former members of paramilitary organisations re-construct their identity as a process of negotiation between the representations of the past and the present. The project brings together psychological and anthropological insights into identity dynamics, nostalgia, continuity and leadership.

In-depth interviews and focus groups with (former) members of loyalist paramilitary organisations will be the main data collection method.

Research Interest Group: Indentities, Groups & Social Change

Research Interests

Peace and Conflict studies, conflict transformation, nostalgia and continuity, social memory, group identity.


Flack, P. (2013, August). Identity Change amongst former members of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Poster presented at the BPS Social Psychology Section Annual Conference, University of Exeter.

Flack, P. (2013, September). Identity Change amongst former members of loyalist paramilitary organisations. Oral presentation at the 4th Annual Psychology Postgraduate Conference, Queen's University Belfast.

Flack, P. (2014, September). Identity Change amongst loyalist paramilitary organisations. Poster presentation at the 5th Annual Psychology Postgraduate Conference, Queen's University Belfast.

Flack, P. (2014, July). Identity Change amongst loyalist paramilitary organisation. Poster presentation at the Centre for Identity & Intergroup Relations Inaugural Event conference, Queen's University Belfast. 

Flack, P. (2015, March). Loyalist paramilitary identity change: A social psychological analysis. Oral presentation at the Explorations of Northern Irishness conference (An interdisciplinary symposim), Queen's University Belfast.

Flack, P., Gheorghiu, M. & Storey, L. (2015, July). How PUL (Protestant Unionist Loyalist) community members perceive loyalist paramilitary organisations: A discursive analysis. Oral presentation at The 38th Annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Diego, USA.


Flack, P. (2015). “They have forgotten about us”: Leading change amongst loyalist paramilitary organisations. Queen's Political Review, 3(2), 8-22. Retrieved from

Flack, P., Gheorghiu, M. & Storey, L. (2015). Collective nostalgia as a way of dealing with identity change: The case of loyalist paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland. Manuscript submitted for publication. 

Additional Information

Graduate Member - International Society of Political Psychology.