|Front Page | Northern Ireland | The search for peace|
|From conflict to ceasefires 1983-1994
The government slowly introduced changes which led critics to say political status was granted in all but name.
Republican and loyalist prisoners were housed according to paramilitary affiliation - a move that did not stop the targeting of prison staff. 1988 saw the remaining special category 92 prisoners left the compounds for the H-Blocks but were allowed to retain their status.
In 1990 a BBC documentary revealed the extent of the paramilitary control over their respective H-Blocks.
Paramilitaries had organised themselves along the same military lines as the Long Kesh compounds and murals were painted on walls.
Prison officers would often negotiate with the “officer commanding” of each wing to facilitate searches or other duties. Eventually, the prison authorities allowed 24 hours freedom of association in the wings.
But many prisoners were also devoting more and more time to discussing the possibilities of a settlement and their place in it. The figures who led this thinking on both sides inside the H-Blocks were instrumental in achieving the ceasefires of 1994.
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