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Constitutional Futures after Brexit

Constitutional Futures after Brexit

Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Gillespie
Funder: Reconciliation Fund, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs

Ireland is facing major political and constitutional choices over the next decade. They arise from changing relations between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and its consequences for the UK’s own union, and the transformation of the EU itself. Together, these changes amount to a constitutional moment for both Ireland and Northern Ireland in their most significant neighbouring relationships. During such periods, change can accumulate in multi-dimensional and often unanticipated ways, leaving major actors ill-prepared for the sudden shifts of interests, affinities and identities that together define such political transitions. The more effectively that potential changes are analysed, debated and mapped ahead of events, the better prepared political leaderships, decision-makers, interest groups and citizens will be to make informed choices and decide how these choices can be shaped and directed.

The CPCR is carrying out a three-year research project on Constitutional Futures after Brexit.

This project addresses possible political and constitutional change in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the EU and their inter-connections. It thus encompasses a broader field of relationships than Brexit alone, thinking through and beyond that event and its processes to examine their wider and longer term constitutional, governmental and political implications. Working with key partners on these islands and elsewhere in Europe, the project will use innovative social science methods and theories to analyse these possible alternative futures, combining specific pieces of research within its broader research programme. It proposes extensive engagement with academics, political actors, public servants, media and citizens to develop and analyse plausible scenarios of potential change.

An ambitious outreach programme will publicise research findings and promote their associated debates and events across three core project pillars of analysis, deliberation and public policy. Analysis refers to conceptual and evidence-based original research using a variety of social science methods carried out by trained academics and professional researchers. Deliberation is discussion and decision-making on political and policy options based on inclusive citizen-based interaction, fair and accurate information and multiple perspectives. Ireland’s experience with citizens’ assemblies on climate change options and abortion are examples of this practice. Public policy refers to political decisions about policies implemented after deliberation and involving civil servants and citizens as well as politicians.