Breaking the Patterns of Conflict: The Irish State, the British Dimension and the Northern Ireland Conflict

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Project Description

This interdisciplinary research assesses how British and Irish policy promoted and instigated change in the patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland. It does this by documenting key turning points in British and Irish relations and strategy towards Northern Ireland since the 1960s, through a series of 'witness seminars' and long interviews which have been taped, transcribed and deposited in the UCD Archives department.

The turning points include the Sunningdale conference, the Hunger Strikes, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Downing Street Declaration of 1993 and the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and its implementation in the first term of the executive, 1998-2003 (where we study not just policy change but also inertia). Governmental strategies have changed slowly over the past decades and policy makers systematically take models from the past. However, misconceptions abound about the detail of past policies and their significance.

This project aims to build closer links between policy makers and academic researchers, in order to develop better understanding about how change develops and can be understood.

The project builds upon previous research conducted in the Institute for British Irish Studies funded by the John Whyte fund, which involved interviewing participants in the negotiations which led to the Belfast Agreement.