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Abandoning Historical Conflict?Former Political Prisoners and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland$
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Peter Shirlow, Jon Tonge, and James McAuley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719080111

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719080111.001.0001

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Former prisoners and societal reconstruction

Former prisoners and societal reconstruction

(p.142) 7 Former prisoners and societal reconstruction
Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Manchester University Press

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement laid down procedures for the accelerated release of prisoners affiliated to groups that had committed to a ‘complete and unequivocal ceasefire’ and acknowledged the need to ‘facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into the community by providing support both prior to and after release, including assistance directed towards availing of employment opportunities, re-training and/or re-skilling and further education’. This chapter explores the extent to which prisoners have managed to leave behind inter-community mistrust to attempt societal reconstruction from below, within a context of hostility towards them beyond their immediate community of support and personal difficulty in achieving reintegration into mainstream society. The activism and negotiation associated with civil society is evident in the vast array of non-governmental organisations operating in Northern Ireland. Community restorative justice schemes brought former prisoners into ever-closer contact with state agencies and moved armed groups away from the arbitrary dispensing of local ‘justice’. The chapter again indicates the greater level of social capital within republican communities, affording a greater level of opportunities for developmental work for republican prisoners.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, former prisoners, Good Friday Agreement, ceasefire, reintegration, societal reconstruction, activism, civil society, restorative justice, social capital

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