Who Was Released On The Good Friday Agreement

One of the most controversial parts of the Good Friday Agreement was the decision to prematurely release some paramilitary prisoners. Up to 500 loyalist and Republican prisoners convicted before the agreement are expected to be released before the programme deadline, which is currently set at July 2000. Prisoners sentenced to five years or more in prison serve only one third of their sentence. Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment serve prison sentences comparable to those of a prisoner who has not been convicted of terrorist crimes, less than a third. Four paramilitary groups, the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA, the Defenders of the Red Hand and the Orange Volunteers, are not eligible for the prisoner release program because they did not have a ceasefire at the time of the agreement. The releases were a radical move to win the support of the broader republican and loyalist communities for the Good Friday Agreement. But politicians and the families of the victims are struggling to accept the deal, as well-known murderers such as Patrick Magee, the man responsible for the 1984 Brighton bombing that killed five people at a Conservative Party convention, will be released. On the day Magee was released, Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that the releases were “very difficult to bear”. In early 1999, opposition leader William Hague called for an end to early releases, claiming that banning punitive strikes on both sides violated the Good Friday Agreement. The public is also divided, as emails to bbc News Online`s Talking Point showed: “Mr Blair should keep in mind that appeasement has not worked for Mr Blair. Chamberlain,” wrote Jon Vincent of the United Kingdom. “At the moment, the peace process seems to be a cynical ruse for some participants.” But Jim Gulliford, also from the UK, said peace was the most important concern. He wrote: “Without peace, the senseless killing and maiming will continue.

Peace can only be achieved through compromise. At least by pursuing the liberation program, the British government is showing signs of the two qualities that can end the problems: trust and goodwill. Now it`s time for the IRA to do the same and sniff its arms forever. But Jim Gulliford, also from the UK, said peace was the most important concern. He wrote: “Without peace, the senseless killing and maiming will continue. Peace can only be achieved through compromise. At least by pursuing the liberation program, the British government is showing signs of the two qualities that can end the problems: trust and goodwill. Now it`s time for the IRA to do the same and sniff its arms forever. This decision to release the prisoners without serving their full sentences sparked moral outrage.

Many people, especially trade unionists, were irritated by this part of the agreement, although it was deemed necessary to appease the paramilitary organisations, namely the Provisional IRA, the Ulster Voluntary Force and the Ulster Defence Association. In order to be granted early release, the prisoner had to be affiliated with a paramilitary organization that had established and maintained “a complete and unambiguous ceasefire.” The Sentencing Review Board decided which prisoners should be released earlier and whether they posed a threat to society and could reoffend. Each prisoner was released with a licence that could be revoked if the Commissioners and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland decided that they had joined a paramilitary organisation or supported paramilitary activities. The multi-party agreement is an agreement between the British Government, the Irish Government and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland. It establishes the support of the signatory parties to the british-Irish agreement and provides the framework for various political institutions. It is divided into three parts: the early release of prisoners is one of the most difficult parts of the Good Friday Agreement.

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