Transforming Conflict examines lessons learned from the Northern Ireland and Border Counties conflict transformation process through social and economic development and their consequent impacts and implications for practice and policymaking, with a range of functional recommendations produced for other regions emerging from and seeking to transform violent conflict. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive assessment of the region’s transformation activity, largely amongst grassroots actors, enabled by a number of specific funding programmes, namely the International Fund for Ireland, Peace I and II and INTERREG I, II and IIIA. These programmes have facilitated conflict transformation over more than two decades, presenting a case ripe for lesson sharing. In focusing on the politics of the socioeconomic activities that underpinned the elite negotiations of the peace process, key theoretical transformation concepts are firstly explored, followed by an examination of the social and economic context of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. The three programmes and their impacts are then assessed before considering what policy lessons can be learned and what recommendations can be made for practice. This is underpinned by a range of semi-structured interviews and the author’s own experience as a project promoter through these programmes in the Border Counties for more than a decade.
However, such efforts exist and are
viable. In the Northern Ireland context, a number of external funding support
programmes have concentrated their efforts on supporting the peace process
since the mid 1980s through social and economic development, under the
guise of the InternationalFundforIreland (IFI) and the EU Peace Programmes
(Peace I, II, and III), having contributed billions of euros to the region’s conflict
t ransformation process.
These programmes provide a case study for assessing the efforts of external
funding of peace processes as they prompted
(InternationalFundforIreland and Atlantic Philanthropies) offered funding for the
large-scale Sharing Education Programme (SEP) in Northern Ireland.
Guided by reconciliation principles, a key aim of SEP is to
facilitate sustained, curriculum-based contact. In this regard it
seeks to bridge the gap between integrated schools, which are
accessed by only a small minority of children, and
A number of long-term conflict
transformation funding programmes or tools have been operating in
Northern Ireland and the Border Counties since 1986 under the guise of
the InternationalFundforIreland (IFI), the EU Special Support
Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and the EU Programme for Peace
and Reconciliation (Peace I, Peace II and Peace III), since 1994 and the
backgrounds, administrative structures and activities.
Article 10(a) of the 1985
Anglo-Irish Agreement signed by the British and Irish governments
states that ‘the two governments shall co-operate to promote
the economic and social development of those areas of both parts of
Ireland which have suffered from the consequences of
extent of their effectiveness needs to be assessed in more detail.
Some general observations will first be provided about each tool
largely in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Each will then be
assessed against the five criteria developed earlier in terms of
The InternationalFundforIreland – general observations
Northern Ireland and International Relations theory
Timothy J. White
Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Similar to his befriending of key Irish-American allies, John Hume developed
connections with leaders in the European Union who also came to support the
peace process. They did so through the economic assistance that they provided
through the various EU Peace Programmes. In Chapter 10 in this volume,
Buchanan discusses not only the peace funding that came from Europe but
also other international funding that came through the InternationalFundforIreland. Because it is impossible to know what would have developed without
the economies of border areas and encourage cross-border cooperation. This programme
was complemented by other funding from the InternationalFundforIreland (IFI) and Co-operation Ireland ( Coakley
The political talks process initiated in the 1990s further
strengthened cross-border cooperative arrangements ( O’Dowd et al. 1995 : 276). The cessation of paramilitary
violence in Northern
the border. The EU, through its PEACE and INTERREG programmes, and
other international funders, such as the InternationalFundforIreland, have been the main source of support over the past two
decades for civil society and community groups to engage in
North-South activity, broadening participation and encouraging
grassroots acceptance of the legitimacy of cross-border working
quality of the economic and social legislation giving effect to it.
This is true not only within Northern Ireland, but it also impacts
on those engaged in cross-border business and social cooperation, as
is shown by the contribution by the chair of the InternationalFundforIreland, Denis Rooney, to a recent IBIS/British Embassy
roundtable discussion of North-South business relations (IBIS, 2010