By Peter Shirlow;Kieran McEvoy
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Extra info for Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in No
The nature of the prison regime and the political system in which it is located will inevitably shape the nature of the prisoners’ resistance (Mathiesen, 1965). Amongst the prisoner groupings themselves, in addition to individual factors such as age and gender, styles of resistance will be fashioned by variables such as political ideology, prevalence of a political history within the prisoner culture, the calibre of recruits and leadership, and organisational capacity. Resistance may be expressed in a wide number of ways, ranging from the dramatic (escape, hunger strike or self-harm, legal challenge) to the routine (smuggled contraband, illicit communications, organisational discipline, political education).
As Margaret Thatcher summed up: ‘There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing or political violence. There is only criminal murder, criminal bombing and criminal violence. We will not compromise on this. ’10 Throughout the criminalisation period, prison managers and their political masters were involved in formulating policies which deliberately sought to obfuscate the political character of the prisoners, and placed the prisons front and centre in the broader political and ideological battles of the conflict.
The focus in Chapter 5 is on residual criminalisation and the ways in which this set of processes can act as an impediment in the ability of former prisoners to work both within and between their communities. Chapter 6 is concerned with the contribution of former prisoners in their communities, a theme which is further developed in Chapter 7, which employs qualitative evidence drawn from the focus groups and the workshop to elaborate on the contrasting experiences of both Republican and Loyalist politically motivated former prisoners at working within and between their respective communities.