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Toward Inclusive Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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Power-Sharing in Europe

Part of the book series: Federalism and Internal Conflicts ((FEINCO))

Abstract

This chapter examines power-sharing in Northern Ireland through the lens of inclusion. While the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement were designed primarily to accommodate nationalists and unionists, the chapter assesses how they have fared in representing broader equality and human rights goals. The chapter charts the evolution of the institutions since their establishment in 1998, through a number of political crises and subsequent agreements. Analyzing qualitative data collected in the region, it evaluates the institutions’ inclusion of ‘other’ identities beyond nationalism and unionism, their adaptation over time, and movement toward a more civic politics. Progress has been far from unidirectional, coming at times in spite of the institutional design. Nevertheless, advances toward inclusion have been made from which lessons can be learned, both for Northern Ireland and other consociational cases.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Given the historically contentious nature of policing and justice in Northern Ireland and the contested legitimacy of the state within the Catholic community, nationalist and unionist parties agreed that neither bloc would hold the position when it was devolved in 2010.

  2. 2.

    Eleven interviews were conducted with party representatives: three DUP, two UUP, two SDLP, two Alliance, and two Green Party. Another 11 interviews were conducted with representatives of civil society organizations representing human rights, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, and the Irish language. The chapter also draws secondarily on 32 interviews conducted with all of the main ethnic and civic political parties, plus representatives of civil society, in Northern Ireland in April 2012, April–May 2013, and November 2015.

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Interviews

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Murtagh, C. (2021). Toward Inclusive Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back. In: Keil, S., McCulloch, A. (eds) Power-Sharing in Europe. Federalism and Internal Conflicts. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53590-2_7

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