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Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern IrelandResistance, Management, and Release$
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Kieran McEvoy

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299073.001.0001

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Prisoner Release, the Peace Process, and the Political Character of the Conflict

Prisoner Release, the Peace Process, and the Political Character of the Conflict

(p.314) 11 Prisoner Release, the Peace Process, and the Political Character of the Conflict
Paramilitary Imprisonment in Northern Ireland

Kieran McEvoy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the period from 1994 to 2000, which saw the evolution of the peace process and the early release of paramilitary prisoners. It groups together the role of both prisoners and prison managers in analysing their contribution to that period. First, it explores the historical context of prisoner release in Ireland on both sides of the border. Second, it examines the role of prisoners in the process of conflict resolution in the 1990s including the period before and after the breakdown of the first IRA ceasefire. The provisions within the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent legislation are then analysed under four themes. These include prisoner release as an incentive for peace amongst organisations outside the peace process; the relationship between prisoner releases and the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons; the impact of prisoner releases on the victims of violence; and the issue of prisoner reintegration. It is argued that the issue of prisoner release represents a crucial acknowledgement by the British government of the political character of the conflict. Such a view will be required to spread to all of the protagonists in the Northern Ireland body politic to ensure the continuance of the conflict resolution process.

Keywords:   ceasefires, peace process, paramilitary weapons, conflict resolution, Good Friday Agreement

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