The Northern Ireland peace process

From armed conflict to Brexit

Author: Eamonn O'Kane

The peace process in Northern Ireland has been widely praised for resolving the longest running post-war conflict in Europe. However, there is often misunderstanding about what happened in Northern Ireland and why. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this book offers an analysis of the origin, development and outcome of the peace process. It argues that the changes that Northern Ireland experienced from the early 1990s can only be understood if they are examined in the context of the time in which they occurred. It challenges some of the criticisms of the peace process that have emerged in recent years and argues these are based on either a misunderstanding of the purpose of the process or on information that was not available to the main actors at the time. The peace process was primarily an attempt to persuade those groups using violence to abandon their armed campaigns, rather than a specific attempt to create a fairer or more just society. The question became how this could be achieved and at what cost? The book charts and explains the ongoing challenges faced by Northern Ireland as it seeks to transition from a conflict to a post-conflict society. It highlights the lack of trust that has been a continuing and, at times, debilitating feature of the region’s politics since 1998. It concludes by considering the extent to which Brexit offers a challenge that might undermine the progress that has been made during Northern Ireland’s ‘messy’ and unpredictable peace process.

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