Irish foreign policy in transition

This book offers a new way of looking at Irish foreign policy, linking its development with changes in Irish national identity. Many debates within contemporary international relations focus on the relative benefits of taking a traditional interest-based approach to the study of foreign policy as opposed to the more recently developed identity-based approach. This book takes the latter and, instead of looking at Irish foreign policy through the lens of individual, geo-strategic or political interests, is linked to deeper identity changes. As one Minister of Foreign Affairs put it; ‘Irish foreign policy is about much more than self-interest. The elaboration of our foreign policy is also a matter of self-definition—simply put, it is for many of us a statement of the kind of people that we are’. Using this approach, four grand narratives are identified which, it is argued, have served to shape the course of Irish foreign policy and which have, in turn, been impacted by the course of Ireland's international experience. The roots and significance of each of these narratives; Ireland as a European Republic, as a Global Citizen, as an Anglo-American State and as an Irish Nation are then outlined and their significance assessed. The shape of Irish foreign-policy-making structures is then drawn out and the usefulness of this book's approach to Irish foreign policy is then considered in three brief case studies: Ireland's European experience, its neutrality and Irish policy towards the 2003 Iraq War.

Abstract only

This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about Irish foreign policy. This volume considers Ireland's relationship with Great Britain and argues that the roots of Irish foreign policy are to be found in the inevitable fixation of Irish foreign policy makers with their closest neighbour. It suggests that national identity is a process rather than a fixed state and that the significance of the relationship between identity and foreign policy is not restricted to areas of political interest. This volume also presents four narratives related to Irish foreign policy.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter looks at one of the earliest and arguably most powerful narratives in Irish foreign policy—that of the Irish Nation. With this narrative it is easily understood how and why Irish foreign policy has been frequently characterised as being essentially a creature of Ireland's bilateral relationship with Great Britain and therefore subject to the overwhelming domination of a single narrative rooted in the struggle for independence. While this narrative of the Irish Nation dominated Irish foreign policy at the state's foundation, it later came to be challenged as a result of contradictions from within that narrative as well as the development of competing narratives.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter establishes the parameters of the second great identity narrative in Irish foreign policy discourse—that of Ireland as a Global Citizen. It considers how a vision of Ireland and Irish foreign policy has been constructed which values and prioritises a sense of Irish mission in the wider global community. It explains that this narrative is rooted in perceptions of Ireland's global mission, its contributions to other nations on other continents and in its sense of opportunity was certainly a positive fillip to an otherwise introverted and sometimes parochial sense of self and it also offered new avenues of expression and international participation and contributed significantly to a greater self-confidence.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter outlines the development and potency of the third grand narrative in Irish foreign policy—that of Ireland as a European Republic. It explains that this narrative is based on a particular conception of sovereignty and it argues that the Irish are part of a distinct regional family and underlines the limited nature of the Irish state's capacity to shape its external environment. This narrative was constructed from Ireland's historic engagement with the European mainland, from an understanding of Europe as representing modernity, and from an aspiration of normalcy. The strength of this narrative reflects the abiding preoccupation of Irish policy makers over the last thirty to forty years to place Ireland at the heart of the European project and to refract so much else of Irish foreign policy through that lens of Europeanness.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter outlines the development of the third narrative of Irish foreign policy—that of Ireland as an Anglo-American State. It explains that this narrative looks to the English-speaking world as being Ireland's natural political and cultural hinterland and it encapsulates a more radical challenge to nationalism than that offered by the narrative of the European Republic. This narrative was constructed from an understanding of Irish history as part of the warp and weft of a larger civilisational narrative and from an understanding of the Anglo-American world as representing modernity. This chapter also discusses challenges and criticisms on this narrative.

in Global citizen and European Republic
The executive drama

This chapter outlines the central political and bureaucratic framework from which Irish foreign policy is constructed to analyses the significance of its evolution. It examines how the foreign policy process has evolved within an executive context, discusses the rise of the Department of Foreign Affairs as a key actor, and outlines the constitutional framework for foreign policy. This chapter highlights the limited role of the cabinet in foreign policy-making and considers the perspectives of executive actors in Ireland's foreign policy drama in the context of the proposed four identity narratives.

in Global citizen and European Republic
The democratic coda

This chapter reviews the structures, both formal and informal, through which democratic control is exercised over the formulation and conduct of Irish foreign policy. It analyses in detail the parliamentary contribution to Irish foreign policy formulation and considers public engagement in the policy process. This chapter evaluates the strength of democratic currents and their potential to transform the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. It also considers the role of narratives in Irish foreign policy construction and the way in which different narratives may become evident in the assumptions of particular sets of foreign policy actors.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter analyses the interaction of the four narratives when faced with the long-term foreign policy issue of Ireland's place within the European project and the challenges that have arisen there from. It evaluates the explanatory power of this narrative competition for an understanding of the shape of contemporary Irish foreign policy. This chapter discusses the representations of the European project by the four narratives, the alienation of the Anglo-American State narrative and the hegemonic dominance of the European narrative.

in Global citizen and European Republic

This chapter examines the interaction of the four narratives when faced with the medium-term foreign policy issue of reconciling Irish security and defence policy with the post-Cold War development of Europe's security architecture. It suggests that the four identity narratives are clearly competing for their respective claims about the nature of Irish security and defence policy and its institutional expression in Europe's contemporary security architecture. This chapter also discusses the nature of policy deriving from this discursive contest and describes how the positions of the narratives ebb and flow over time.

in Global citizen and European Republic