Former prisoners and societal reconstruction

Peter Shirlow, Jonathan Tonge, James McAuley and Catherine McGlynn

in Abandoning Historical Conflict?

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719080111
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703038 | DOI:
Former prisoners and societal reconstruction

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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

Chapter.  10195 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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