The Politics of Remembrance: Commemorating 1916

By Timothy J. White and Denis Marnane


Assessing a significant anniversary of an important historical event such as commemorating 1916 is like a juggler keeping three balls in the air. There is the event itself, very likely not something about which there is consensus in terms of interpretation; there is the period of time between then and now in which the event is remembered, in this instance a century; and finally there is the present with its competing agendas for commemoration. These three: history, memory, and commemoration Continue reading

The Parades Commission and legitimacy


Post by Dr Dawn Walsh, Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS), The University of Birmingham.

While the summer of 2014 was marked by a surprisingly quiet ‘marching season’ the issue of parades remains a controversial one in Northern Ireland. The difficulties and disputes around Parades by the Loyal Orders, predominantly the Orange Order, can be seen as a cultural manifestation of a constitutional conflict, which has been managed but not resolved by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Migration patterns have resulted in a situation where a number of these parades now pass through or skirt nationalist areas if they follow traditional routes. This is unacceptable to the local residents who see them as sectarian and intimidating. However alterations from these traditional routes are equally unacceptable to marchers who view the parades as an integral part of their culture and re-routing as an infringement on their human rights. Continue reading

Can Pragmatism and Profitmaking help build Peace?


Posted on behalf of Katy Hayward and Eoin Magennis

Blog from the Special Issue of Irish Political Studies: Breaking patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland: the British and Irish states

When asked to conjure up an image of a typical ‘peacemaker’, people in Ireland, north and south, may think of a wildly diverse range of people: from ‘American President’ to ‘working class woman from the Shankill Road’… but it is very unlikely that ‘wealthy Dundalk business man’ would feature among this imaginary group. Indeed, although discourses connecting economic growth with peaceful ‘normalisation’ are well-established in Ireland, the contribution of the private sector to bridging these goals is rarely suggested. Our starting point for this paper was the realisation (coming, in part, through the witness seminars of the Institute for British-Irish Studies)* that a crucial section of the population has been left out of most accounts of how patterns of conflict in Ireland have been broken: the private sector. Continue reading

History, structure and action in the settlement of complex conflicts: the Northern Ireland case

Posted on behalf of Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd

Blog from the Special Issue of Irish Political Studies: Breaking patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland: the British and Irish states

What was the Good Friday Agreement? A final settlement, to be sold abroad as a success story and model for other peace processes? Or a wrong turn, as the flags protest is finally showing? And if it was a major step forward in the road to peace – as we think – how was it possible? In our article, we argue that the political agreement, brought in 1998 in Belfast and secured further in 2006 at St Andrews with so much political effort, mediation, planning, was dependent for its success on longer-running changes in the  power balance and in the stance of the British (and Irish) states. Good Friday was not Sunningdale for slow learners – its institutional similarities to the Sunningdale settlement were situated in a radically different structural and geo-political context and that is why Sunningdale was brought down in months, and Good Friday remains after 15 years. But the longer-run changes are far from complete, and the lack of clarity and momentum here underlies the recent flags protest and the crises that have followed. Continue reading

Breaking patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland.

IPS Image

Posted on behalf of John Coakley and Jennifer Todd

Blog from the Special Issue of Irish Political Studies: Breaking patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland: the British and Irish states

The British and Irish governments were central to the move to peace in Northern Ireland. Their negotiations and mutual agreements, their cooperation and coordinated stances and pressures, led finally to the Agreement reached in 1998. Their continued  cooperation and intervention remains central to the stability of the settlement. The motives of state actors, however, have been unclear, and the role of the state in the political process has been the subject of scholarly controversy. Did the British do their best, keep their patience, and try to get the parties to reach agreement? And how ‘perfidious’ were they, and in what ways? Were the Irish helpful or difficult? This article from the Special Issue of Irish Political Studies ‘Breaking Patterns of Conflict in Northern Ireland’ looks at the types of evidence that can help to resolve such questions. It argues that – for all of the problems of elite evidence, elite self-justifications and elite dissimulation, the best way to understand state strategies is to ask the people involved. Of course one must critically compare their answers one with another, with the written record, and with other documentation: but if we want to see the meaning of state actions, the possibilities that politicians and officials were holding open in their own minds, we have to ask them. Continue reading

The progress of the Irish Constitutional Convention to date

ccvenDeclaration of interest: The author is the research director of the Irish Constitutional Convention

The Irish Constitutional Convention has almost completed its work.  At its most recent meeting it dealt with the last of the eight topics assigned to it by the Government. All that remains is for the Convention to use its remaining time to consider ‘Any other Amendments’ — the focus of its final meetings early in the New Year.

On its establishment, the Convention was roundly criticised, with much of the criticism focused on the limited (and admitedly pretty eclectic) range of topics that it was given to consider.  Over the course of its deliberations minds have changed and many who were critical of it are less so today (see here for an example).

This post updates on an earlier analysis (see here) of the progress of the Convention to date. Continue reading