Northern Ireland: Autonomy as a Conflict Management Tool in a Stable State, Ethnonational Guarantors, and Low-Level International Assistance

  • Dawn Walsh
Part of the Federalism and Internal Conflicts book series (FEINCO)


This chapter examines the use of territorial self-government in Northern Ireland. It provides a concise overview of the conflict, focused on the role of territorial self-government. It then addresses how the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement provided for TSG to meet the needs of nationalists in Northern Ireland to have a strong connection to Ireland while respecting unionist desires to maintain the link with Great Britain. However, it also highlights that these arrangements were an uneasy compromise and that the British and Irish governments, and friendly states particularly the US, had to provide reassurance that the institutions would be faithfully implemented. It finds that the relationship between the guarantee provider and guarantee seeker, rather than the theoretical strength, of a guarantee determines whether it is effective.


  1. Adams, G. (2003). Hope and History. London: Brandon.Google Scholar
  2. Adams, G. (2004, January 15, Thursday). Speech by Gerry Adams, then Sinn Féin President, at St. Malachy’s College, North Belfast. Belfast: Sinn Féin.Google Scholar
  3. Ahern, B. (2000, February 14). Article by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach, Which Appeared in the ‘Irish Times’. Dublin: Department of the Taoiseach.Google Scholar
  4. Ahern, B. (2000, February 15). Statement on Northern Ireland by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach, to the Dáil. Dublin: Department of the Taoiseach.Google Scholar
  5. Ahern, B. (2008, April 3, Thursday). Speech by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach, to the Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) Conference ‘From Conflict to Consensus: The Legacy of the Good Friday Agreement’ at University College Dublin. Dublin: Department of the Taoiseach.Google Scholar
  6. Bunreacht na hÉireann (The Constitution of Ireland). (1937). Dublin: Office of the Attorney General. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  7. Byrne, S. (2000). Power Politics as Usual in Cyprus and Northern Ireland: Divided Islands and the Roles of External Ethno-Guarantors. Nationalism and Ethnic Politic, 6(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cox, M., Guelke, A., & Stephen, F. (Eds.). (2000). A Farewell to Arms? From ‘Long War’ to Long Peace in Northern Ireland. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Craig, J. (1934). Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVII, Cols. 72–73.Google Scholar
  10. Cunningham, D. (1999, December 14). Changing Times in Bandit Country as the DUP Left without Security. Irish Independent.Google Scholar
  11. Democratic Unionist Party. (2007). Getting It Right, 2007 Manifesto. Belfast: DUP.Google Scholar
  12. Democratic Unionist Member. (2016, January 18). Interview with Dawn Walsh, Belfast.Google Scholar
  13. Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. (2013). Referendum Results 1937–2013 Published by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Dublin: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.Google Scholar
  14. English, R. (2004). Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Godson, D. (2004). Himself Alone, David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism. London: Harper-Collins.Google Scholar
  16. Girvin, B. (2008). Contraception, Moral Panic and Social Change in Ireland, 1969–79. Irish Political Studies, 23(4), 555–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kerr, J. (2001). [2001] NIQB 3. Belfast: Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  18. McGarry, J., & O’Leary, B. (1993). The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern Ireland. London: Athlone.Google Scholar
  19. McGarry, J., & O’Leary, B. (2004). The Northern Ireland Conflict: Consociational Arrangements. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitchell, G. (1999, November 18). Statement by Senator George Mitchell in Belfast, Concluding the Review of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Belfast. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  21. Mitchell, G. (2000). Making Peace. London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Murphy, P. (2015, October 15). Interview with Dawn Walsh. London.Google Scholar
  23. Northern Ireland Act. (1998). London: Stationary Office.Google Scholar
  24. O’Kane, E. (2007). Decommissioning and the Peace Process: Where Did It Come From and Why Did It Stay So Long? Irish Political Studies, 22(1), 81–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pollack, A. (2010). A Solid Statement that North-South Cooperation is Here to Stay. Armagh: Centre for Cross-Border Studies. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  26. Powell, J. (2009). Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland. London: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  27. Reynolds, A. (1999). The Irish Government and the Peace Process, 1992–1994: A Political Perspective (Working Papers in British Irish Studies, 30), 1–13.Google Scholar
  28. SDLP Member. (2016, July 16). Interview with Dawn Walsh. London.Google Scholar
  29. Sinn Féin. (1988). SDLP-Sinn Féin Talks: Sinn Féin Document One. Dublin: Sinn Féin. Accessed December 31, 2017, from http://www.sinnFé Scholar
  30. Sinn Féin member. (2016, January 18). Interview with Dawn Walsh. Belfast.Google Scholar
  31. Supreme Court. (1990). Christopher McGimpsey and Michael McGimpsey Plaintiffs v. Ireland, An Taoiseach and Others Defendants [S.C. No. 314 of 1988].Google Scholar
  32. Tannam, E. (2007). The European Commission’s Evolving Role in Conflict Resolution, the Case of Northern Ireland 1989–2005. Cooperation and Conflict: Journal of Nordic International Studies Association, 42(3), 337–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Trimble, D. (1998, April 24). Antony Alcock Memorial Lecture University of Ulster. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  34. The Good Friday Agreement. (1998). Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  35. The Sunningdale Agreement. (1973, December). Tripartite Agreement on the Council of Ireland—The Communique Issued Following the Sunningdale Conference. Accessed December 31, 2017, from
  36. Ulster Unionist Member. (2015, December 2). Interview with Dawn Walsh. Belfast.Google Scholar
  37. Walsh, D. (2015). How a Human Needs Theory Understanding of Conflict Enhances the Use of Consociationalism as a Conflict Resolution Mechanism: The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Ethnopolitics, 15(3), 285–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Walsh, D., & O’Malley, E. (2013). Religion and Democratization in Northern Ireland: Is Religion Actually Ethnicity in Disguise? Democratization, 20(5), 939–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Walsh, D., & Doyle, J. (2018). The Role of External Actors in the Operation of Consociationalism. Ethnopolitics, 17(1), 21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Whyte, J. H. (1980). Church and State in Modern Ireland 1923–1979 (2nd ed.). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Wolff, S. (2005). Complex Autonomy Arrangements in Western Europe. In S. Wolff & M. Weller (Eds.), Autonomy, Self-Governance and Conflict Resolution. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law and GovernmentDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations