This chapter explores both the complex and challenging context of historic national antagonism and the degree to which political change has promoted reconciliation. Tragically, the North of Ireland makes visible some of the internal contradictions of the great post-Enlightenment project for freedom in politics which insisted that government requires the consent of the governed. While supporters of independence for Ireland, to be achieved violently if necessary, could claim the support of a majority on the island, they failed to make significant inroads among Protestant voters concentrated largely in the industrialised north-east. But in Ireland there was no international peace treaty to determine new frontiers, only direct confrontation with a British government. The trump card of the peace process has been its ability to render political violence strategically hopeless and to reduce the level of immediate fear.