Source: (2010) A Dissertation submitted as part of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Legal Science, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast.

Restorative justice practice is increasingly making its way into criminal justice systems in both practical and legislated ways. Canadian legislation provides for restorative justice alternatives for both youth and adult offenders, while Northern Ireland only provides a statutory basis for youth offenders. The political conflict within Northern Ireland over the last 40 years has fostered mistrust between state agencies and the communities they govern resulting in a need for community-based restorative justice organisations to step in and mediate non-violently within their own communities. Suspicions on behalf of state agencies that these organisations were simply a paramilitary front have not born out and since the Good Friday Agreement was reached in 1998 there has been a significant change in relationships between state justice agencies and the communities they had governed. This study will explore that relationship within the context of community-based organisations and state justice agencies and show that while restorative justice legislation would not have worked at the time of the Agreement, it may, depending on its ethos and framework, be a significant vehicle for change today. (author's abstract)