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.

Our Timeline

Background of

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.