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Maze prison
1971-72 1972-76 1976-78 1978-80 1981 1983 1983-94 1997 1998 98-2000
Prisoners leave the Maze, 1999
Prisoners have established self-help groups on the outside
Releases 1998-2000
Despite misgivings from both politicians and victims, the demise of HM Prison Maze was written into the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. Paramilitary-linked parties demanded the release of prisoners who, they said, had been driven to violence by a condition of war. In the deal, paramilitary prisoners belonging to groups on ceasefire became eligible for early release on licence. Anti-agreement unionists accused the government of giving in to terrorists by allowing releases to go ahead despite no decommissioning of arms. Some families of victims attacked resettlement payments but others said that there would be no reconciliation without the releases. Prisoners sought to re-establish themselves but some have found readjustment extremely difficult. In the two years following the agreement, 428 prisoners were released, leaving just 16 inside to be released later or transferred to other units. Of the staff, 300 prison officers left the service in the same period. Twenty-nine prison service staff had been killed by paramilitaries over the years in all of Northern Ireland's prisons.

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