How has it been possible for Irish political leaders to not just accept but actively promote two of the largest challenges to Irish nation-statehood: the concession of sovereignty to the European Union (EU) and the retraction of the constitutional claim over Northern Ireland? This book argues that, rather than indicating a pragmatic retreat, such decisions (and their justification on the public stage) reveal the unique power and enduring relevance of nationalism to Irish and European politics today. As a detailed study of official discourse in twentieth-century Ireland, it traces the ways in which nationalism can be simultaneously redefined and revitalised through European integration. The text moves from an overview of the origins and development of Irish official nationalism to analyse the connections between its response to profound internal and external challenges to Irish nation-statehood. The genius of the Irish approach to such challenges has been to employ innovative EU-inspired concepts in finding agreement with and within Northern Ireland, whilst simultaneously legitimising further European integration on the grounds that it fulfils traditional nationalist ideals. Thus, Irish political leaders have been successful in not only accommodating potent nationalist and pro-European discourses, but in making them appear complementary. The book concludes with an assessment of likely changes in this symbiotic relationship in the post-EU enlargement, post-Celtic Tiger era.
This book argues that Irish official discourse has been able to pose European integration and nation-statehood as mutually complementary. It highlights the richness of the interweaving elements of official nationalism and European integration in official discourse as an arena for exploring the relationship between nation-state and the European Union (EU). The first part of the book deals with official nationalism and its relationship to European integration, as well as the use of discourse analysis as a methodological tool in studying official nationalism. It uses the triform model to official nationalism and European integration, considering how each element of identity, borders, and governance is presented in the ‘traditional’ conception of the nation-state and the ‘new’ conception of the EU. The second part of the book provides an overview of the development of official nationalism in Ireland, focusing on the period from the first Home Rule Bill to the Irish War of Independence (1886–1921). It also analyses the way in which official discourse has addressed identity, borders, and governance in the context of EU membership and conflict in Northern Ireland.
This chapter examines the theoretical basis for the application of the triform model — identity, borders, and governance — to the nation-state and the European Union (EU). It considers theories of nationalism and European integration and sets out a constructivist/modernist conception of official nationalism and nation-statehood, which traditionally frames a political system in a triform model of ‘nation’, ‘territory’ and ‘state’. It also discusses the significance of national governmental elites and their official discourse in the process of European integration. Moreover, it shows how the identity, borders, and governance of the EU may be broadly conceptualised as ‘community’, ‘space’ and ‘polity’. Finally, the chapter outlines a symbiotic theory of the relationship between the EU and nation-statehood. The use of the term ‘symbiosis’ captures the image of the nation-state and the EU as two different entities living in close association to their mutual benefit.
This chapter explains the theoretical and methodological framework for this research, both in relation to the key tenets of discourse theory and to the empirical content of the analysis. It begins by considering the meaning of ‘discourse’ as language, practice, and context. Its multidimensional meaning and function means that discourse analysis has particular value in the study of nationalism and political change. The chapter then provides an overview of other studies in the areas of nationalism and European integration which have used discourse theory and analysis, focusing on the case of Northern Ireland. The articulation of discourse in texts offers a means by which the processes at work in a particular context can be analysed. The relationship between politics and discourse emanates from the function of discourse in the social world and, therefore, works in two interconnected ways: politics as a product of discourse and politics as a determinant of discourse. Nation-statehood is traditionally conceptualised in official discourse as primarily important in the three thematic areas of identity, borders and governance.
The establishment of an independent Irish state was severely complicated by the fact that there was not an Irish nationalism seeking an Irish nation-state as such but rather a range of nationalisms competing for political space and influence in Ireland. The three core versions of nationalism — unionist nationalism, constitutional nationalism, and republican nationalism — fostered different conceptions of the meaning and implications of Ireland's identity, borders, and governance and consequently occupied conflicting positions regarding the ideal notion of Irish nation-statehood. In relation to their opposing views on Britain's role in Ireland, these competing nationalisms also fostered different opinions regarding the relevance of developments in the international context for Ireland. Developments in international affairs, particularly in Europe, had the effect of altering the focus and appeal of each of these versions of nationalism in Ireland. As a result, the need to find a middle ground between constitutional and republican nationalisms shaped the development of official nationalism in the independent Irish Free State after 1922.
The initial focus of official nationalism in the Irish Free State was on the activity of nation-building. The core purpose of nation-building was to unite the nation behind the new state. Consequently, the Irish official nationalism that developed emphasised the points of convergence between republican and constitutional nationalism. These included the roles of intellectual and political elites and a shared conception of the importance of the narrative and cultural identity of the nation. This chapter examines the way in which official nationalism developed from this basis, noting in particular the implications of the subsequent conception of the Irish nation-state for its relations with Northern Ireland, Britain, and the wider international community. It also identifies the processes of state-building that occurred after 1937, in which Northern Ireland and the international context, particularly Europe, again were of immense importance. The chapter concludes by analysing the approach and motivating assumptions of the Irish government towards Northern Ireland and European integration in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
This chapter examines the conceptualisation of identity in Irish official discourse in relation to the definition of the Irish ‘nation’ and the European ‘community’. ‘Nation’ and ‘community’ constitute the broad conceptual frameworks for identity in nation-statehood and European Union (EU), respectively. These frameworks are legitimated and strengthened through the use of narratives, including story-lines regarding significant historical events and normative judgements as to their contemporary relevance. The new model of the European community conceives identity in terms of multidimensional forms, from local to European. This chapter explores the way in which the traditional and new frameworks, narratives, and models of the nation and the European community have been brought together in Irish official discourse since the 1970s. After a summary of the traditional conception of the Irish nation, it considers the way in which this conception has been upheld in Ireland's approach to the EU. This then leads into an analysis of the way in which Irish official discourse has utilised the European conception of community in developing an ‘agreed’ approach to Northern Ireland.
This chapter discusses the meaning and significance given to ‘borders’ by official Irish discourse when defining Irish ‘territory’ and European ‘space’. The model of national territory is of a physical, bordered polity made live by the narrative of a common homeland. The framework of European space is also constructed with the aid of an ideal model and narrative in which cross-border co-operation meets shared needs. This chapter explores the way in which the traditional and new frameworks, narratives, and models of the territory and European space have been brought together in Irish official discourse since the 1970s. It presents a summary of the traditional conception of the Irish territory with an analysis of the way in which this conception has been upheld in Ireland's approach to the European Union. The chapter concludes by examining how a ‘European’ notion of shared space has been present in Irish official discourse on Northern Ireland. The idea of changing barriers into bridges was one such concept that gradually became less contentious in the Irish context through reference to its ‘European’ inspiration.
This chapter explores the conceptualisation of ‘governance’ in Irish official discourse in relation to both the Irish ‘state’ and the European ‘polity’. ‘State’ and ‘polity’ constitute the broad conceptual and institutional supporting frameworks for the meaning and significance of governance in nation-statehood and European Union (EU), respectively. The traditional narrative of the state is national self-determination. The traditional model of the state is sovereignty. One aspect of the new model of the European polity is the conception of multilevel citizenship, with the coexistence of national and European citizenship. This chapter explores how the traditional and new frameworks, narratives, and models of the state and the European polity have been brought together in Irish official discourse since the 1970s. After a summary of the traditional conception of the Irish state, it discusses the way in which this conception has been upheld in Ireland's approach to the EU. This then leads into an analysis of how the conception of the Irish state has been influenced by the EU-inspired conception of polity in Irish official discourse on Northern Ireland.
The case of Ireland epitomises the enduring power and potential of official nationalism even in a context of immense upheaval. The contradictory nature of nationalism is made manifest in the complexity of official discourse. Politicians' redefinition of key words, their elaboration of the same myths in different contexts, and their changing of core principles on the pretext of bringing goals closer enable the ‘nation-state’ to remain the critical constant in a changing global environment. Through examination of official discourse, this book has shown the ‘productive paradoxes’ within Irish nationalism which have enabled significant adjustments to be made in touchstone areas of state sovereignty, — that is, Northern Ireland and European integration. These changes have been made in and around the three ideological pillars of identity, borders, and governance. Some traditional conceptions of nation, territory, and state have been reinforced in official discourse on the European Union (EU), whilst some new ‘EU-inspired’ conceptions of community, space, and polity have been utilised in justifying the concessions necessary for political agreement on the island of Ireland.