Who we are
Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA) is a government accredited restorative justice programme that aims to promote and develop non-violent community responses to the issues of low-level crime and antisocial behaviour in areas across Northern Ireland. We currently have branches in North Belfast, Greater Shankill, East Belfast, South Belfast, and Bangor. Our work has also expanded to develop restorative projects in Portadown, Magherafelt, Carrickfergus & Larne.
Northern Ireland Alternatives
In 1996 research carried out by Tom Winstone was the launching pad for what would become Northern Ireland Alternatives. The research explored issues around paramilitary style attacks and a multi-agency group was established in 1997 to develop and take ideas further.
Greater Shankill Alternatives was established as a community based restorative justice programme in September 1998 as a pilot project for three years to evaluate its effectiveness, before beginning the process of expansion. However, due to the success of Greater Shankill Alternatives and the requests from other communities for similar initiatives, Northern Ireland Alternatives evolved naturally and organically as a means to help develop and support new strategic restorative justice initiatives.
Bangor Alternatives started in March 2003; North Belfast Alternatives in October 2003, East Belfast Alternatives in November 2003 and South Belfast Alternatives in April 2010. In April 2021 we established restorative projects in Portadown and Magherafelt, and then in 2022 we further expanded our work in Carrickfergus and Larne.
Each site has registered charitable status.
Research carried out by Tom Winstone (EPIC) to explore issues around paramilitary punishment
Multi-agency steering group established to develop community based restorative processes
Greater Shankill Alternatives project and management committee set up
Northern Ireland Alternatives established to oversee local sites
Independent Review of the Protocol for CBRJ schemes
Sites established in Bangor, North & East Belfast
Community Based Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland Evaluation by Atlantic Philanthropies
NIO Protocol on Community Based Restorative Justice Projects
NI Alternatives receives NIO accreditation
Development of South Belfast Alternatives Site
Development of Portadown and Magherafelt Alternatives Sites
Development of Carrickfergus and Larne Alternatives Sites
Research carried out byTom Winstone(EPIC) to explore issues around paramilitary punishment
Multi-agency Steering group established to develop and take forward ideas
Shankill Alternatives project and management Committee set up
Northern Ireland Alternatives formed to oversee development of local sites
Sites established in North & East Belfast and Bangor
Independent evaluation of Alternatives sites proved the positive impact of RJ projects
NIO protocol on CBRJ projects
NIA receive NIO accreditation
Development of South BelfastAlternatives advice and support
Northern Ireland Alternatives is a central co-ordinating initiative aimed at embedding the philosophy and practice of restorative justice as a means of peacefully addressing socially harmful activities and developing non-violent, innovative approaches to doing justice within local communities.
Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA) has an overarching board consisting of a diverse range of people who oversee the work of Northern Ireland Alternatives. The role of this Board is concerned with overall strategic development of NIA, policy development, responses to government policies and Public Relations.