Struggling for Reparations in Northern Ireland
Reparations for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity (Brill forthcoming 2nd ed.). Edited by Carla Ferstman and Marianna Goetz.
24 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 17, 2019
Reparations are considered a key part in remedying gross violations of human rights and finding a political settlement to violent pasts in many transitional societies. However, in Northern Ireland, despite a protracted conflict with tens of thousands of victims, affording reparations has not been a central objective of the transitional justice process. The debate on dealing with the past has squarely concentrated on truth and accountability. This is despite numerous claims for compensation, campaigns for redress and even a country report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, which identifies reparations as the ‘area of least achievement’ in the context of Northern Ireland and something that ‘should be tackled seriously and systematically.’
This chapter examines the use of reparations in Northern Ireland in remedying the past. It traces the contested nature of victimhood, central to the continuing controversy surrounding the provision of reparations in Northern Ireland. It then summarises the current state of affairs in Northern Ireland in relation to the five main forms of reparations. This section also considers victims who have brought their reparation claims before the courts to seek redress, owing to the insufficiency of the status quo of reparations programmes in Northern Ireland. The final section concludes by finding that reparations offered to victims have been piecemeal, grossly insufficient in remedying their harm, and packaged as ‘services’ rather than rights. Instead, a rights-based approach to reparations is suggested alongside a truth process. As such, it is hoped that this analysis can offer insight into the challenges of introducing reparations into a protracted transitional justice context.
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