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This article critically assesses the application of the ‘transitional justice’ model of conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. The model addresses a number of important issues for societies emerging from violent conflict, including victims' rights and dealing with the past. This article claims that the model is founded upon highly contentious political assumptions that give rise to a problematic framing of the issues involved. The underlying implication is that by eschewing basic political analysis in favour of unexamined ideals concerning conflict transformation, the TJ approach belies its commitment to truth recovery, victims' rights and democratic accountability.