Joseph Ruane
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Conflict and reconciliation in Northern Ireland
in Are the Irish different?
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Viewed in the light of the historic conflict, the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was a breakthrough in one very important respect. That is, the role of the British state, which moved away from its traditional alliance with the Protestant/unionist community and committed itself to establishing communal equality. This has opened up new possibilities. However, this had not undone other embedded sources of conflict, in particular the depth of the cultural oppositions and the conflicts of identity. The principle of equality on which the British state had hoped to build a permanent peace was now another source of conflict. For the moment the hope for reconciliation has dimmed and there is increasing concern about the future. In 1998, the GFA was presented as a historic breakthrough, one that would bring to an end centuries of conflict between Britain and Ireland and between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.

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