The Northern Ireland experience of conflict and agreement presents
a salutary warning to the international community against the
fashionable view that there is an 'Irish model' which can be
exported to cauterise ethnic troubles around the globe. The book
draws on extensive archive research in London and Dublin on the
1970s power-sharing experiment, and on interviews with senior
officials and political figures from the two capitals-as well as
reconciliation practitioners-about the negotiation and chequered
implementation of the Belfast agreement. It shows how stereotyped
conceptions of the problem as a product of 'ancient hatreds',
allied to solutions based on Realpolitik, have failed to transform
Northern Ireland from a fragile peace, following the exhaustion of
protracted paramilitary campaigns, to genuine reconciliation. The
book concludes with practical proposals for constitutional reforms
which would favour genuine power-sharing-rather than merely sharing
power out-and set Northern Ireland on the road to the 'normal',
civic society its long-suffering residents desire. It will be
essential reading not only for academics and postgraduates
interested in ethnic conflict but also for policy-makers who
confront it in practice.
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