By Peter Shirlow
Read Online or Download Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland PDF
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Extra info for Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland
In total, 2,060 suspected Republicans were detained, compared to 109 suspected Loyalists (Hogan and Walker, 1989: 94). The Gardiner Committee Report, which was established by the government, concluded that internment had ‘brought the law into contempt’, ‘fanned a widespread sense of grievance and injustice’ (Gardiner, 1975: 38–43) and recommended its phasing-out. Shirlow 01 intro 27 12/11/07 14:44:13 28 Beyond the Wire The application of this model to Northern Ireland also saw significant changes to the ways in which paramilitary suspects were arrested and tried.
Second, as also discussed in Chapter 1, definitional issues will inevitably emerge as to who is or is not a political prisoner and therefore might benefit from such a release process. A third and related matter is the practical mechanism adopted by which such releases may be brought about. Finally, as with the release of ordinary prisoners, questions relating to prisoner ‘reintegration’ should certainly feature in the minds of policymakers taking such decisions. Together with the issue of prisoner reintegration, each of these themes featured prominently in the Northern Ireland debate.
Since the government had always strongly resisted acknowledging the political character of the Northern Ireland conflict at any level, there was little likelihood of recognising politically motivated prisoners as ‘prisoners of war’. The use of armed violence excluded Republican and Loyalist prisoners from categorisation as conscientious objectors or (with the possible exception of some internees) as prisoners of conscience. The mechanism chosen to effect early releases ultimately proved capable of determining the bona fides of those few cases of ‘radicalised ordinaries’ who claimed political status.
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