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Northern Ireland: Violence, victims and a new response

16-12-2013 Feature

Fifteen years have passed since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Yet for many people in Northern Ireland, the impact of violence still features in their daily life in painful ways.


Dozens of so-called 'peace walls' divide communities in Belfast.
© ICRC / Kelvin Boyes

Young men on “dirty protest” in prison, exiled and injured victims of “punishment beatings”, households evacuated because of repeated bomb alerts, and children growing up with a strong sense of distrust of “the other side” remain common features of life in Northern Ireland.

The flare up of flag protests at the end of 2012 refocused a degree of international attention on the tensions between and within communities, which remain as divided as at the height of the Troubles. Meanwhile, the underlying humanitarian needs which are the legacy of conflict remain constant yet mostly unacknowledged.

In this article, Geoff Loane, the head of mission for the ICRC in the UK and Ireland, examines the dilemmas facing the organization in Northern Ireland and the role it can play in a context where it has been present to varying degrees since before the Troubles.


Murals are still used to mark territory between divided communities.
© ICRC / Kelvin Boyes


The ICRC in Northern Ireland: A new challenge or a new role? International Review of the Red Cross, No 888 - 150 Years of Humanitarian Action

Download article About Geoff Loane