Robin Wilson
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Power-sharing, Mark I
in The Northern Ireland experience of conflict and agreement
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This chapter explores how official discourse, in London and Dublin, came over time to define the Northern Ireland 'problem'. It also explores how only certain solutions were conceivable, notably excluding those based on universal norms, even if these were to prove unsustainable or, at best, sub-optimal. The stereotypical conceptual grid applied to Northern Ireland prevented the logical conclusion, of flexible power-sharing arrangements, based on equal citizens rather than 'communities' as the social unit, from being drawn. Within the stereotyped perspective, of course, the British State saw itself as passive and reactive, rather than its interventions framing concrete outcomes in Northern Ireland. James Callaghan as Home Secretary had recognised that British military intervention would have political implications and he commissioned contingency plans for direct rule as early as the winter of 1968.

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