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13th March 2012, 4:41pm
Dissidents have gone online to advance Republican cause, research suggests
A web browser Use of the Internet by dissident Irish Republicans to disseminate ideological material shows how the movement is changing, but has largely been overlooked until now, an academic expert told a seminar in Belfast this week.

Dr Lorraine Bowman-Grieve from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln presented some key findings from her research into how Republican ideals are conveyed on the web.

Her talk titled, 'The content and function of dissident Irish Republican discourses online', took place at a seminar organised by the Centre for Research in Political Psychology at Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday 13th March 2012.

Dr Bowman-Grieve is a forensic psychologist whose research examines the motivations behind terrorism and political violence. She has been investigating terrorist and extremist use of the Internet since 2002, when she was awarded a research scholarship from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ranging from websites to virtual communities, her research explores the exchange, sustenance and dissemination of discourses supportive of extreme ideologies and the use of terrorism.

Dr Bowman-Grieve said: "The Internet provides Irish Republican organisations and their supporters with an 'always on' space for sharing material which supports their ideals.
"There has been very little research into this activity over the past decade, with attention focussed on violent Jihadists' online presence post-9/11.
"Given the recent upsurge in violent dissident Republican activity in Northern Ireland, it is important to understand who the dissidents are and how they represent themselves online. It is also important to distinguish between violent dissident Republicans and those who are using the Internet to create narratives of dissent but do not support the use of violence."

The research on which the presentation was based will feature in a forthcoming paper due to be published in a special issue of the SAGE academic journal, 'Media, War & Conflict'.

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