This book examines how the conflict affects people's daily behaviour in reinforcing sectarian or ghettoised notions and norms. It also examines whether and to what extent everyday life became normalised in the decade after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Cross-border commerce has been the stuff of everyday life ever since the partition of Ireland back in 1921. The book outlines how sectarianism and segregation are sustained and extended through the routine and mundane decisions that people make in their everyday lives. It explores the role of integrated education in breaking down residual sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The book examines the potential of the non-statutory Shared Education Programme (SEP) for fostering greater and more meaningful contact between pupils across the ethno-religious divide. It then focuses on women's involvement or women's marginalisation in society and politics. In considering women's political participation post-devolution, mention should be made of activities in the women's sector which created momentum for women's participation prior to the GFA. The book deals with the roles of those outside formal politics who engage in peace-making and everyday politics. It explores the fate of the Northern Irish Civic Forum and the role of section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act in creating more inclusive policy-making. Finally, the book explains how cross-border trade, shopping and economic development more generally, also employment and access to health services, affect how people navigate ethno-national differences; and how people cope with and seek to move beyond working-class isolation and social segregation.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores how depoliticisation of Northern Irish society is occurring at the level of everyday life in Northern Ireland. It examines how it is being resisted and how, in spite of the apparent enshrinement of an unquestioning acceptance of the benevolence of the current political leaders, a politics of normality is emerging from the years of conflict. The book explores the argument that conflict management should mean more than simply security-based or violence-related initiatives; rather, a 'sustainable peace is dependent on the political, economic and social choices which the relative absence of violence allows'. It also explores the role of integrated education in breaking down residual sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The book focuses on women's involvement or women's marginalisation in society and politics.
This chapter focuses on Northern Ireland, with Scotland as a point of comparison and outlines efforts in Northern Ireland to try to ensure that citizens can shape the 'normalisation' of political life. It examines the short-lived Civic Forum and the statutory duties in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as forms of inclusive policy-making. The significance of the voluntary and community sector in policy-making is connected to sectarianism in local formal politics, the 'democratic deficits' of direct rule by Westminster and the conditions for receipt of funding from the European Union (EU). The tradition of participation and EU-inspired district partnerships led the transversal party, the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC), to propose the constitutional innovation of a Civic Forum. The chapter deals briefly with the motivations for and the contexts of reform; some similarities and differences in institutions and procedures; and the depth of 'new politics'.