In the discussion that follows we provide an overview of the operation of informal justice and ‘punishment violence’ in Northern Ireland which has been a deep-seated a semi-permanent aspect of the violent political conflict and which has persisted well into the transition to peace. Eschewing a mono-causal framework we argue that ‘punishment violence’ can only be explained and hence understood in terms of the organizational dynamics of the various armed groupings; the economic and social deprivation caused by Northern Ireland's declining economic base and the economic costs of the conflict and finally by the deficiencies in the provision and nature of public policing. We then turn our attention to restorative justice as a panacea to the problem of ‘punishment violence’ and examine the effectiveness of a number of schemes and initiatives that currently operate in Northern Ireland. Finally, we suggest that the capacity of armed groups to demobilize and demilitarize and embrace non-violent means of dealing with conflict depends to a significant extent on the leadership skills of ex-combatants themselves.
Ellison, G. and Shirlow, P. (2008), "From war to peace: Informalism, restorative justice and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland", Ventura Miller, H. (Ed.) Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-57. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1521-6136(08)00402-8
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