This paper examines the relationship between the politics of blame in post-conflict Northern Ireland and the treatment of politically motivated former prisoners. Using the examples of direct and indirect discrimination in the areas of employment and access to mental health services, the paper considers how the discursive operation of blaming produces evasions and attributions of guilt. It argues that such blaming practices have very real material consequences for the allocation or withholding of goods and burdens in the community. The paper notes also that the ‘cause of victims’ is often appropriated by the press and other political actors for their own purposes, frequently to block the provision of public goods to one particular group of ex-combatants: ex-politically motivated prisoners. It concludes by posing a series of questions about blaming, justice and the moral authority of the victim in a transitional justice context. The claim of the paper is simply to offer some starting points for understanding the relationship between processes of blame, stigma and social exclusion.
|Publication status||Published - 2011|