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An introduction to the book
Colin Coulter

The 'fireside chat' that dominated the media coverage of the high-tech conference offers certain indelible insights into the version of Irish society that has been forged out of the experience of crisis and austerity. The imposition of the austerity agenda has necessarily posed serious ideological difficulties for the Irish state. While the austerity agenda is invariably depicted as serving the interests of all, in reality it has served the interests of only a few. The measures introduced by the Irish government have ensured that the neoliberal crisis would have neoliberal solutions. In their important critique of the Celtic Tiger period, Peadar Kirby notes that the ideas that have dominated public life in Ireland since the 1960s have chimed with the tenets of 'modernisation theory'.

in Ireland under austerity
A society in transition

In the last generation, Northern Ireland has undergone a tortuous yet remarkable process of social and political change. This book explores what Northern Ireland was like during violent conflict, and whether the situation is any different 'after the troubles'. It examines the political developments and divisions essential to a critical understanding of the nature of Northern Irish society. The book focuses a number of elements of popular cultural practice that are often overlooked when social scientists address Northern Ireland. Sport plays an important though often dispiriting role that in Northern Irish society. It looks at some of the problems and ways forward for transitional justice and memory work in Northern Ireland. The book reviews the history of strategic spatial policy in post-partition Northern Ireland. It draws on feminist scholarship to expose how explanations of the ethnic conflict that ignore gender are always partial. The book illustrates how feminist and gender politics are part of the political culture of Northern Ireland and offers conceptual resources to academics engaged in investigating the conflict. It further provides a brief outline of critical race theory (CRT) and the critique of whiteness therein before using it as a basis from which to examine the research literature on racism in Northern Ireland. The course that popular music has taken in Northern Ireland during 1990s of the peace process, is also considered and the most crucial issues of the peace process, police reform, are examined.

Neoliberal crisis, neoliberal solutions

Once held up as a 'poster child' for untrammeled capitalist globalisation, the Irish Republic has more recently come to represent a cautionary tale for those tempted to tread the same neoliberal path. The crash in the world economy had especially grave repercussions for Ireland, and a series of austerity measures has seen the country endure the most substantial 'adjustment' ever experienced in a developed society during peacetime. This book delineates the reactionary course that Ireland has followed since the ignominious demise of the Celtic Tiger. It argues that the forces of neoliberalism have employed the economic crisis they caused to advance policies that are in their own narrow interests, and that the host of regressive measures imposed since the onset of global recession has fundamentally restructured Irish society. The book discusses the mechanisms by which finance in Ireland sustains and reproduces itself, in particular how it was able to protect itself during the 2008 crisis. Property was at the centre of the second phase of the Celtic Tiger boom after US investment in manufacturing began to decline, leading to the Irish economic crash. The years since the onset of the recession in Ireland in 2008 have been characterised not by passivity and quietism but by extreme violence. In December 2009 as part of the first wave of austerity, the Community Development Project was informed that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs proposed not to continue funding the project beyond the end of 2009.

Abstract only
Colin Coulter
and
Michael Murray

The consociational mode of government envisaged by those who framed the Belfast Agreement proves to be emblematic of a broader concern to build an equitable and inclusive social order in Northern Ireland. The dispute over 'guns and government' inexorably served to harden and polarise political opinion in Northern Ireland. The ramifications of the critical imbalance within the peace process would become readily apparent when it came time to initiate the principal institutions conceived under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). During the period of the troubles the gnawing disaffection of workingclass nationalists was evidently the most palpable source and emblem of the political instability prevalent within Northern Irish society. The persistence of ethno-political prejudice in particular suggests the need to exercise a little caution before speaking of Northern Ireland as a place that exists 'after the troubles'.

in Northern Ireland after the troubles
Lost futures and new horizons in the ‘long peace’

The Good Friday Agreement is widely celebrated as a political success story, one that has brought peace to a region previously synonymous across the globe with political violence. The truth, as ever, is rather more complicated than that. In many respects, the era of the peace process has seen Northern Irish society change almost beyond recognition. Those incidents of politically motivated violence that were once commonplace have become thankfully rare, and a new generation has emerged whose identities and interests are rather more fluid and cosmopolitan than those of their parents. In many other regards, however, Northern Ireland continues to operate in the long shadow of its own turbulent recent past. Those who were victims of violence, as well as those who were its agents, have often been consigned to the margins of a society clearly still struggling to cope with the traumas of the Troubles. Furthermore, the transition to ‘peace’ has revealed the existence of new, and not so new, forms of violence in Northern Irish society, not least those directed towards women, ethnic minorities and the poor. In Northern Ireland a generation after Good Friday, we set out to capture the complex, and often contradictory, realities that have emerged more than two decades on from the region’s vaunted peace deal. Across nine original essays, the book provides a critical and comprehensive reading of a society that often appears to have left its violent past behind but at the same time remains subject to its gravitational pull.