Community based restorative justice projects in Northern Ireland have garnered international attention due to their role in conflict transformation and peace building. Yet, little is known about how changing State policies has helped or hindered their ability to use restorative justice to reduce crime and paramilitary violence. The findings indicate that changing State policies and how these policies are implemented has hindered this aspect of the projects’ work. It is argued that State policies seeking to control and regulate the use of restorative justice may undermine its ideological basis and potential effectiveness. The limitations involved in using restorative justice to tackle paramilitary violence are also highlighted.