The Good Friday Agreement: prisoner release (1998)

This section of the April 1998 Good Friday Agreement facilitates the release of prisoners detained for scheduled offences during the Troubles in Northern Ireland:

“1. Both Governments will put in place mechanisms to provide for an
accelerated programme for the release of prisoners, including transferred
prisoners, convicted of scheduled offences in Northern Ireland or, in the
case of those sentenced outside Northern Ireland, similar offences
(referred to hereafter as qualifying prisoners). Any such arrangements will
protect the rights of individual prisoners under national and international

2. Prisoners affiliated to organisations which have not established or are
not maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire will not benefit
from the arrangements. The situation in this regard will be kept under

3. Both Governments will complete a review process within a fixed time
frame and set prospective release dates for all qualifying prisoners. The
review process would provide for the advance of the release dates of
qualifying prisoners while allowing account to be taken of the seriousness
of the offences for which the person was convicted and the need to protect
the community. In addition, the intention would be that should the
circumstances allow it, any qualifying prisoners who remained in custody
two years after the commencement of the scheme would be released at
that point…

4. The Governments will seek to enact the appropriate legislation to give
effect to these arrangements by the end of June 1998.

5. The Governments continue to recognise the importance of measures to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into the community by providing support both prior to and after release, including assistance directed towards availing of employment opportunities, re-training and/or re-skilling and further education.”