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The Politics of Northern Ireland

Joanne McEvoy

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The political scene in Northern Ireland is constantly evolving. This book reflects the most recent changes and synthesises some of the best thinking on the subject. It provides an overview of the politics of Northern Ireland, including detailed coverage of the institutional structure under the Good Friday Agreement and an evaluation of how the institutions operated in practice.

Opening with the historical context and discussion of the nature of the conflict, the standpoints of unionism, nationalism, loyalism and republicanism are explored. The evolution of political initiatives since the 1970s is traced, leading to the peace process of the 1990s and culminating in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The period of devolution in Northern Ireland (1999-2002) is evaluated, and the book concludes with coverage of political developments post-suspension, paying particular attention to the on-going debate on changes to the Agreement and the prospects for power-sharing.

Key Features

  • Presents an impartial view of Northern Irish politics
  • Gives readers the confidence to use some of the more complicated political concepts in their study of the subject
  • Encourages readers to analyse, question and discuss Northern Irish politics


1. Theoretical Perspectives on the Northern Ireland Conflict
(i) The Ethno-National Conflict
(ii) The Concept of Identity in Northern Ireland
(iii) Marxist Accounts
(iv) The Colonial Interpretation
(v) Consociational Theory
2. Background to the Conflict
(i) The Historical Context
(ii) Home Rule and Partition
(iii) The Stormont Regime
(iv) The Civil Rights Movement
(v) Onset of 'the Troubles'
(vi) Communal Divisions
3. Parties and Paramilitaries
(i) Ulster Unionist Party
(ii) Democratic Unionist Party
(iii) Social Democratic and Labour Party
(iv) Sinn Féin
(v) Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
(vi) Progressive Unionist Party
(vii) Republican Paramilitaries
(viii) Loyalist Paramilitaries
4. Finding a Solution: from Sunningdale to the Framework Documents
(i) Introduction of Direct Rule
(ii) Sunningdale Agreement and Executive, 1973-4
(iii) Rolling Devolution, 1982
(iv) Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985
(v) Brooke-Mayhew Talks, 1991-2
(vi) Downing Street Declaration, 1993
(vii) Framework Documents, 1995
5. British and Irish Government Policy
(i) The British Government: cause of the conflict or neutral arbiter?
(ii) The British Government and Republicanism
(iii) The British Government and Unionism
(iv) The Irish Government: the irredentism claim
(v) The 'Pan-Nationalist Front'
(vi) The Irish Government and Unionism
(vii) British and Irish Convergence
6. Peace Process to Good Friday Agreement
(i) From Negotiations to a Deal
(ii) The Good Friday Agreement: a 'historic' deal
(iii) Support for the Agreement
(iv) Opposition to the Agreement
7. The Institutional Framework of the Agreement
(i) Strand One: The Northern Ireland Assembly
(ii) Strand One: The Northern Ireland Executive
(iii) Strand Two: North-South Cooperation
(iv) Strand Three: East-West Relations
(v) The Decommissioning Stalemate
(vi) Police Reform
8. Towards Restored Devolution
(i) Devolution in the UK
(ii) Suspension and Stalemate
(iii) Revie

About the Author

Joanne McEvoy is a Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen.


A current, impartial look at the contemporary political scene is a welcome addition to the literature. As with much of EUP's Politics Study Guides it will appeal to general readers with an interest in the subject as well as students.

- Times Higher Education

I have just finished reading my copy of The Politics of Northern Ireland. It is wonderful! I have been waiting for this book for at least ten years! In my courses on Northern Ireland's history and politics, I have always had to gather snippets and chunks from a plethora of scholarly works as a substitute for a text – now, I will never have to do that again. Your book will become the basic text for all of my Northern Ireland courses. Thank you, thank you so much!

- Thomas C. Schunk, SUNY Empire State College

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