Fragmented, staggered and inept
Addressing the legacy of the Troubles
in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
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This chapter seeks to tease out the complexities and challenges surrounding the issue of legacy in Northern Ireland. In doing so, it argues that Northern Ireland requires a holistic approach whereby state and non-state endeavours work to mutually cooperate and reinforce each other in ways that support practices of social reconciliation and peace-building. While the discussion that follows details a wide range of legacy initiatives, the common thread running throughout is that many of Northern Ireland’s endeavours to address the past, though by no means all, are embedded in processes of assigning culpability and blame, rather than reconciliation and transformation. Thus, although reconciliation is of course contested, the chapter contends that until legacy is reframed as a process that is transformative, conciliatory and mutually beneficial, it will largely remain a communicative platform for expressions of recrimination, mistrust and oppositionality. Seeking truth and confronting the legacy of violence, whether through centralised formal commissions, bottom-up approaches or a combination of both, must be viewed not as a single panacea to legacy but as part of a broad suite of measures which include a discernible link with social reconciliation. While the prospect of dealing with the past and even the establishment of a truth recovery process presents significant challenges, the prospect of a present (and a future) that is continually vexed with regular, fragmented disclosures about the past is equally daunting.

Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday

Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’


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