chapter  4
The community
Rumour, whispers, and ‘bystander complicity’
WithLauren Dempster
Pages 24

This chapter seeks to explore the imbalance by charting the response of, and within, the communities in which ‘disappearances’ were perpetrated. It explores the role played by the community in ‘disappearing’ through analysing the evidence for, and impact of, silence, whisper, and rumour. Rumours, spread frequently by word-of-mouth, disseminate ‘information’ relating to a person, occurrence, or circumstance, and, to a greater or lesser extent, satisfy the ‘emotional needs of the community.’ Regardless of their motivation, once started these rumours took on something of a life of their own, transmogrifying into a more widely held community belief or opinion which in turn served to reinforce the ‘disappearance.’ A ‘disappearance’ from a close-knit Republican community, often experiencing the complex dialectic of significant levels of support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) while simultaneously being subject to IRA violence, has the ingredients to produce such a culture.