Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 4 October 2015

Ex-paramilitaries 'more likely to be depressed'

Published 28/01/2013

Half of former loyalist paramilitaries and more than a third of republican activists are being treated with tranquilisers and sedatives, an Assembly committee has heard.

The so-called ex-combatants are more than five times more likely to be on anti-depressants than the general public, MLAs were told.

Former male prisoners are also four times more likely to become alcoholics than the standard population.

Furthermore, over a third of the ex-paramilitaries said they have contemplated suicide.

The revelations are based on research conducted in 2010 by Dr Peter Shirlow, of Queen’s University, who was appearing before the Stormont committee which is examining hardline unionist Jim Allister’s proposed bill for dealing with party special advisers. Dr Shirlow said: “One of the things we have to appreciate is that significant consequences come from being part of a paramilitary organisation involved in a conflict ...

“Why in Northern Ireland do we have more people on antidepressants than in other societies? It is because we went through a conflict.”

In his evidence to MLAs he said 35% of republicans and 50% of loyalists are on sedatives and tranquilisers — five or six times greater than the figure for the general population.

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