Issues, leaders, and regimes
Reaching settlement in Northern Ireland
in Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
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How do actors settle contentious territorial issues – particularly the delimitation of their mutual borders? This chapter uses interview data to examine this broad question within the context of Northern Ireland. The issue-based approach to conflict suggests that states handle territorial disputes via more aggressive foreign policies than disputes over non-territorial issues. This perspective therefore predicts protracted negotiations and violence in Northern Ireland, but Irish nationalists redefined the territorial basis of the conflict to allow a peace agreement to emerge. Selectorate theory predicts that leaders will be constrained in negotiations by what their constituencies want. The interview data in this chapter suggests that political elites negotiating the Agreement were very conscious of the need to both lead and follow their constituencies in the peace process.

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