The political economy of peace in Northern Ireland
Social class in an age of boom and bust
in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
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In the early stages of the peace process, a series of global players insisted that the permanent end of the conflict would lead to the revival of Northern Ireland’s long ailing economy. That promised ‘peace dividend’ has, however, never materialised. Although the Good Friday Agreement was signed during a period of global economic expansion, the advent of peace would fail to change Northern Ireland’s status as one of the UK regions where poverty and worklessness are most pronounced. In spite of their supposed ideological differences, both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) would adhere to neoliberal strategies that would merely compound the disadvantage of those communities that had suffered most during the Troubles. The immiseration of working-class districts would be heightened further with the introduction of the Welfare Reform Act in Northern Ireland. As we document in detail, the controversial changes to the social security system have led to even more glaring levels of poverty, indexed most graphically in the proliferation of food banks in the region. We conclude by suggesting that while the collusion of Sinn Féin and the DUP in the introduction of the new welfare regime has created the conditions of the possibility of a more leftist politics, historical experience counsels caution about the potential of such alternative voices.

Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday

Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’


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