This book provides the first detailed examination of the role played by former loyalist and republican prisoners in grass roots conflict transformation work in the Northern Ireland peace process. It challenges the assumed passivity of former prisoners and ex-combatants. Instead, it suggests that such individuals and the groups which they formed have been key agents of conflict transformation. They have provided leadership in challenging cultures of violence, developed practical methods of resolving inter-communal conflict and found ways for communities to explore their troubled past. In analysing this, the authors challenge the sterile demonisation of former prisoners and the processes that maintain their exclusion from normal civic and social life.
The book is a constructive reminder of the need for full participation of both former combatants and victims in post-conflict transformation. It also lays out a new agenda for reconciliation which suggests that conflict transformation can and should begin 'from the extremes'.
The book will be of interest to students of criminology, peace and conflict studies, law and politics, geography and sociology as well as those with a particular interest in the Northern Ireland conflict.
Peter Shirlow is Senior Lecturer in the School of Environmetal Studies at the University of Ulster. He is the author of Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland (Pluto, 2008) and Belfast: Segregation, Violence and the City (Pluto, 2006). Kieran McEvoy is Professor of Law and Transitional Justice and Director of the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Queens University Belfast. He has written and edited several books on prisoners, conflict and transitional justice including Beyond the Wire (Pluto, 2008) and Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern Ireland (OUP, 2001) - winner of the British Society of Criminology Book of Year Award in 2002.
Preface Introduction 1. Understanding Political Imprisonment: Northern Ireland and the International Context 2. Prisoner Release and Reintegration in the Northern Ireland Context 3. The History and Evolution of Former Prisoner Groups 4. Imprisonment and the Post-Imprisonment Experience 5. Residual Criminalisation and its Effects 6. Community and Conflict 7. Former Prisoners and the Practicalities of Conflict Transformation 8. Conclusion: Conflict Transformation and Reintegration Reconsidered? Notes Index