Violence has been a way of life in Northern Ireland for many years as communities were divided by separate warring paramilitary factions. Each side believed that it existed for the benefit and protection of the local community against the forces on the other side. The Irish Republican Army ("IRA") pledged itself to the defense of Northern Irish Catholics from persecution by those loyal to the British government. Similarly, groups such as the Ulster Volunteer Force ("UVF") and the Ulster Defense Association ("UDA") formed to defend Protestant citizens against IRA attacks. Policing of local neighborhoods fell largely to these groups. Enforcement of the rules created by both the IRA and Protestant groups involved shootings, kneecappings, and occasionally tarring and feathering.
From Kneecappings toward Peace: The Use of Intra-Community Dispute Resolution in Northern Ireland,
2008 J. Disp. Resol.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/jdr/vol2008/iss2/7