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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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(p.164) Conclusion
Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Peter Shirlow

Jonathan Tonge

James McAuley

Catherine McGlynn

Manchester University Press

This chapter summarises the roles played by former prisoners in conflict transformation and assesses the extent to which they can assist in the desectarianisation of Northern Ireland. Former prisoners have made significant political contributions to the development and maintenance of peace. Without forfeiting all of the views that contributed to their incarceration, republicans have been obliged to work with the state; loyalists have been required to accept republicans within state structures and explore means of working with the historic ‘enemy’ across the communal divide. Memories of conflict will fade; the local ‘stature’ of republican and loyalist former prisoners may reduce and funding for conflict transformation may diminish. The role and future of the former prisoner community is set against the enduring realities of criminalisation and discrimination. The role played by that community in upholding and delivering peace has been instrumental in the relegation of violence to a mere bit player in the politics of Northern Ireland.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, former prisoners, conflict transformation, desectarianisation, violence, politics, loyalists, republicans, peace, criminalisation

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