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The Irish Government and Peace in Northern Ireland, from Sunningdale to the Good Friday Agreement
Author: Graham Spencer

This study is the most comprehensive account yet of how the Irish Government worked to bring the Northern Ireland conflict to an end. Based on single long-form interviews with key officials it throws new light on how tensions and problems that emerged in the search for peace were confronted and overcome to bring about the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This first of two volumes looks at previous attempts to develop peace as with Sunningdale and the Anglo-Irish Agreement before focusing on the foundations of the peace process that followed. The interviews reveal the iterative nature of the peace process and through the voices of those on the inside provide the most dramatic and authoritative picture yet of how that process came to change the course of history. Taking the reader into the heart of the negotiating room, this study provides an invaluable series of testimonies about Irish Government efforts to end conflict in Northern Ireland.

Author: Graham Spencer

This second of two volumes on the Irish Government’s role in forging the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and implementing the political power-sharing mechanisms and institutions that followed provides the most expansive account yet of the peace process from the Irish perspective. Drawing from extended interviews with key officials and political leaders, this volume details the challenges faced in managing the peace process to reach agreement, before working to oversee the establishment and implementation of the institutions that resulted from agreement. The interviews in this volume address key areas such a building relationships, trust, confidence, strategic management, pragmatism, engaging militant protagonists and meeting the challenges of leadership, to create a definitive picture of the issues faced by the Irish Government in the attempt to end conflict in Northern Ireland.

Abstract only
Graham Spencer

The introduction charts the efforts made to reach peace in Northern Ireland from Sunningdale to the Good Friday Agreement via the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It provides an overview of the interview chapters and the dynamics that influenced attempts to end the conflict in Northern Ireland. The introduction also explains the interview approach and highlights some of the dilemmas that come into play when interviewing.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
Abstract only
Graham Spencer

The introduction gives an overview of the areas covered, the people interviewed and the political context that allowed the peace process to develop. It also highlights the importance of inclusivity, compromise, relationships and the dynamics that gave shape and trajectory to the process. Significantly, the introduction identifies the value of relationships and how those relationships came to solidify the aim of achieving peace and ending conflict in Northern Ireland.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with David Byrne
Graham Spencer

This chapter examines the challenges of removing Articles Two and Three from the Irish Constitution and how legal perspectives functioned in relation to political objectives. This chapter addresses the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement that was overwhelmingly supported by the Irish population and concludes by looking at Brexit.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Dermot Gallagher
Graham Spencer

This chapter outlines how dialogue was conducted leading up to the Good Friday Agreement. It highlights the intensity of dialogue, the role of American influence and how pressures were managed as to create expectations about power-sharing and agreement.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Eamonn McKee
Graham Spencer

This chapter highlights the value of pragmatism in a peace process and how the contentious areas of parading and policing and justice were managed. The chapter also looks at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the role of pragmatism in dealing with these complex and conflicting areas.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Michael Lillis
Graham Spencer

This chapter provides a comprehensive picture of how dialogue and negotiations between the Irish and the British led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Here Michael Lillis describes his relationship with British official David Goodall and the process of engagement that led to agreement

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Liz O’Donnell
Graham Spencer

This chapter details the experiences and efforts of a key political player in the peace process. Importantly, it also explores the role of women in an ostensibly male environment, how decision-making was influenced, how relations were developed, and questions what qualities and differences women brought to the peace process.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Tim Dalton
Graham Spencer

This chapter explains how the decommissioning debate was conducted and how the Irish influenced republican thinking on the issue by working with leaders on statements. It also focuses on how leverage was brought to bear on this problem through intense engagement and the building of trust.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II