Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
An introduction
in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
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In this opening chapter, we set the scene for the book by challenging the almost hegemonic view that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is, in the words of President Clinton, a ‘work of genius’ that should be adopted as a model for other societies emerging from conflict. We begin by suggesting that we need to regard the Northern Irish ‘peace process’ in plural terms and, in particular, to acknowledge the often crucial ‘vernacular’ forms of peace-building’ that go on at community level. We then move to suggest that the reliance of the GFA on certain ‘liberal’ and ‘realist’ readings of international relations has ensured that it has three principal flaws. First, the celebrated peace deal is premised on a familiar but arbitrary temporal distinction between ‘war’ and ‘peace’ which renders it unable to deal with the complex afterlives of the Troubles. Second, the GFA rests on an implicit hierarchy of victims which ensures it cannot acknowledge certain ever more prevalent forms of violence in Northern Irish society. Finally, the political settlement in Northern Ireland assumes a political and cultural binary – that between ‘unionists’ and ‘nationalists’ – which no longer adequately describes the complexities of identity in the region. Having set out this critique, we conclude that the Northern Irish peace process has been rather less than the success that many influential global figures would have us believe.

Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday

Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’


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