The Brooke Initiative: An Examination of the Structural Approach to Conflict Management

  • David Bloomfield

Abstract

Peter Brooke was appointed British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in July 1989. After preliminary meetings with, and overtures to, the political parties, he launched in January 1990 a concerted effort to bring about negotiations between the Ulster Unionist, Democratic Unionist, Social Democratic and Labour, and Alliance Parties9 on a devolved system of government with an Irish dimension. The process quickly came to be known as the ‘Brooke Initiative’. After a further 15 months of dogged bilateral discussions with Northern parties and the Dublin government, Brooke announced a three-strand framework for negotiations in April 1991. The framework provided for initial internal Northern dialogue on devolution (Strand 1), North-South talks on the form of a subsequent Dublin-Belfast relationship (Strand 2), and talks to reshape the relationship between Britain and the Republic of Ireland (Strand 3). The first seven weeks of the allotted ten-week negotiation span were delayed by wrangling over the structures for Strand 2, and the last three weeks provided a total of eight days of internal Strand 1 negotiations which ended inconclusively in early July 1991. The subsequent months eventually produced one further Strand 1 meeting in March 1992. After the British general election in April 1992, Brooke was replaced as Secretary of State. For reasons of space, I can offer only the briefest of narrative sketches below of the Initiative in Section 1, which I hope will suffice simply to sustain the analysis that follows. (A full history of the Initiative, a fascinating story in itself, is in preparation.)

Keywords

Party Leader British Government Irish Constitution Unionist Politician Irish Government 
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Copyright information

© David Bloomfield 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bloomfield
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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