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Bibliography: Northern Ireland Conflict (The Troubles) | Tinnes | Perspectives on Terrorism

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Northern Ireland and the Divided World: Post-Agreement Northern Ireland in Comparative Perspective

Therefore, it seems appropriate to begin this paper with a brief overview of the parties to the conflict and their demands. The Agreement has been widely acknowledged as being consociational and consistent with the four principles of power-sharing identified by Lijphart. This paper will thus, secondly, discuss the theoretical foundation of the Agreement in the third chapter. Here, it will particularly focus on the role of the voting system Single Transferable Vote employed for the Assembly elections, which is unusual for consociational models.

In chapter four, this paper will identify the advantages and disadvantages consociationalism might have for Northern Ireland as well as examine possible alternatives. Furthermore, the Agreement can be criticised for institutionalising difference rather than promoting a discourse of equality [4] and thus merely regulating the conflict rather than solving it. A viable alternative to the consociational model thus could be the social transformational approach, as put forward by Taylor.


Even if the Agreement itself does not solve the conflict, by creating a prolonged period of peace in which political dialogue can take place, it could be a vital step towards a future settlement. The Agreement was certainly not an overall failure as it has managed to bring parties together in political institutions which have refused to sit together in the same room for decades. But its limitations must also be clear: the war might be over but the conflict is far from ended. Since the Agreement has failed to address the underlying issues of the conflict and merely regulates violence, it cannot be regarded as a permanent and sustainable solution.

The conflict in Northern Ireland is one caused by incompatible conceptions of national belonging and the means to realize them. Clearly, this is a very simplified conception of the conflict, yet it underlines the importance to discuss the identities and demands of the groups involved, before being able to analyse the appropriateness of any peace deal.

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  • The predominantly Catholic nationalists aim for the irrevocable unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Whereas, among the unionists a relatively small group of loyalists can be identified as political radicals and supporters of violence, republicans, typically associated with the IRA, are the violent minority in the nationalist camp. However, it should be noted that the nationalist and unionist identities are artificially created and essentially have no objective basis.