Changed utterly?
Northern Ireland’s paralysis in a world of uncertainty
in Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday
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This chapter concludes the book by considering three ‘existential’ challenges to Northern Ireland as it enters its second century of existence. The first is that of the coronavirus pandemic. The chapter considers how the pandemic put pressures on the Executive that had been newly established after the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ accord of January 2020. The integration of Northern Ireland with Ireland and with Great Britain posed particular challenges when it came to managing the coronavirus. Managing the challenge was made a lot easier in practical and political terms when the approaches of the British and Irish governments became more closely aligned. The ease with which the coronavirus could become another issue over which unionists and nationalists could have opposing views was no surprise. The pandemic hit within a few weeks of the UK leaving the European Union. What it meant for Northern Ireland depended greatly on the compromise negotiated between the UK and EU in the form of the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol. This compromise was made necessary by those same open borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland and Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This chapter summarises what this may mean for Northern Ireland and how the Brexit debate further polarises unionism and nationalism in Northern Ireland. The constitutional debate has re-emerged as a ‘live’ issue. This could lead to deepening polarisation, but it could also provoke serious consideration of what sort of society people would like to build out of a wholly transformed global economic, political and social context.

Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday

Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’


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