Beyond the Wire: Former terrorists helping keep the new peace…

FORMER paramilitary prisoners are playing a positive role in maintaining peace at a grass-roots level, according to academics Pete Shirlow and Kieran McEvoy. In their new book – Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland – launched last week, Prof McEvoy reveals that 10 years after early releases began, of the 450 prisoners released early, just 20 have had their licences revoked, of which 16 were for terrorist related activities. This compares to a general re-offending rate of 48% within two years for ‘ordinary prisoners’. Shirlow argues that EU funding for projects has been critical to the low re-conviction rate, providing positive opportunities to ex-prisoners – such as keeping the peace at political interfaces. Dr Shirlow said: “Beyond the Wire challenges common misconceptions about former prisoners that often lead to them being excluded from normal civic and social life. It reminds us of the need for both former combatants and victims to participate in post-conflict transformation in our society.