Research Interests

Terrorism & Extremism, Organised Crime, Gangs & Corruption, Policing, and International Security Studies

Background & Qualification

Dr Sheelagh Brady received her PhD from DCU in 2021. She is a former Sergeant with An Garda Siochana; Senior Security Information Analyst with United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) Nigeria; Security Analyst with EUBAM Libya; and MAC Analyst with EUPM Bosnia Herzegovina; and Senior Security Analyst with SAR Consultancy. She holds a BA (Public Management (Administration of Justice), Institute of Public Administration (IPA), 2001; and MA (Criminal Justice – Sociology and Deviance), John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York; and an MSc in Crime Science, Jill Dando Institute, University College London (UCL), 2009.

Doctoral Research

How and why do people get involved in violent organisations?

Research Overview

This research focused on the reasons why people join gangs and terrorist groups. To date, most research has treated both groups as fundamentally different to ‘normal people’, and also different to each other. This has resulted in simplistic explanations as to why some people join and others do not. This view has changed more recently, with many researchers accepting that both groups are not so different from each other, or from the ‘general public’, as we would like to assume. Some common factors identified include friends and family involved in same, the desire for ‘fun’, danger, social recognition, etc.  However, other academics still see it important to treat them as different, because of differences in motivations; money vs ideology. In fact, it is important to understand both similarities (and differences) because an increased awareness on motivational factors to join will have significant implications for policymaking (i.e. prevention).  But is this comparison enough? Many may say that both groups are criminal and therefore not fundamentally different. This has lead the researcher to move beyond this two group comparison to include those who join the military. This shows whether there is a difference in why people join groups that use violence as a legal action with those that don’t, something not yet widely studied. This addresses the question that when it comes to people who join gangs and terrorist groups, are they defined more by their similarities than their differences, and also share many similarities to those joining the military.


Book Chapters

Brady, S.A. 2016, ‘Policing Transnational Organised Crime, National Perspective, Challenges, Strategies & Tactics’ in Hauck, P. & Peterke, S. 2016, International Law & Transnational Organised Crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Public reports (non-peer reviewed)

Brady, S.A. 2016. Anti-Corruption Justice and Collaboration in Kosovo: Challenges and Recommendations, U4 Anti-Corruption Brief, Chr. Michelsen Institute, U4 Brief 2017:6, available from

Brady, S.A. 2012. Organised Crime in BiH A silent war fought by an ambush of toothless tigers or a war not yet fought? Available from

Brady, S.A. (2015). Even in Ireland we must be vigilant. The Irish Independent, 17 Nov. Available here.