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Restorative Justice in Conflict: Paramilitarism, Community, and the Construction of Legitimacy in Northern Ireland

Mika, Harry
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Contemporary Justice Review 4(3, 4): 291-319.

Paramilitary punishment violence (beatings, shootings, threats and exclusions) in Republican and Loyalist areas of Northern Ireland – itself a manifestation of community-based justice responses to the “troublesâ€? of the past 30 years – has come under increasing local and international scrutiny and criticism. In response to such concerns, innovative restorative justice programs have been underway since 1998 in some working class areas of Northern Ireland to provide nonviolent alternative responses to crime and antisocial behavior. Developed through broad consultation with community organizations and activists, including ex-combatants prominent in community regeneration initiatives, these programs are decidedly community-based and controlled. A number of critical themes are explored here to lay a foundation and framework with which to assess program outcomes and prospects, including the relationship of community justice to punishment violence and political conflict, variations of program development in Loyalist and Republican areas, the nature of legitimation practice, exigencies of evaluaion, and the challenges to the implementation, sustainability and performance of community-based justice programs. The centrality of these themes to critical justice discourse and practice in venues beyond Northern Ireland is proposed.


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