Institute for British Irish Studies 'Constitutional futures after Brexit' Seminar

A constitutional moment on the island of Ireland?

25 June, 2019, University College Dublin. 

This seminar  is an initial meeting to map, and to begin to address, the analytic questions with which scholars are faced in a period when Brexit has destabilised Northern Ireland, put aspects of the Good Friday Agreement into question, and reinvigorated discussion of the timing and form of a united Ireland. It forms part of the IBIS Constitutional Futures after Brexit project that addresses possible constitutional and political change in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the EU and their inter-connections. The objectives of this wider project are set out in this document explaining in greater detail what the project is about.

This day-long seminar in UCD  focusses on how to address the challenges to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement posed by Brexit. It  re-examines some of the basic premises, provisions and principles of that agreement, in order to explore how they may be revised or renewed. 

The current situation disrupts the peace agreement and the institutions which had been intended to frame peace and stability for decades: 

  • the British role in guaranteeing the Agreement has been questioned, including within Westminster
  • the Irish government wish for ‘no change’ is unlikely to be fulfilled
  • Protestants and unionists are more internally divided than before
  • Nationalists are re-focussing on issues of Irish unity
  • British-Irish relations have deteriorated and government priorities have diverged. East-West relations will undoubtedly be renewed, but a renewal of joint management of  peace building in Northern Ireland is likely to be difficult.
  • the meaning and implications of the GFA are highly contested, and restoration of a functioning power-sharing government is uncertain despite the current talks

Recent events have brought a sort of constitutional moment on the island where – in the years after the shock of Brexit and before the politics of a border poll – it is necessary and possible to reprioritise and reframe the principles, institutions and norms which will guide politics not just in a devolved Northern Ireland but also other possible futures including a possible future united Ireland and in a range of possible UK and Irish futures in-between. In the longer term this requires much wider dialogue: this is an initial academic seminar on how that dialogue might usefully be framed. 

If you are interested to attend, please email caitriona.devery@ucd.ie 

Provisional Constitutional Futures Programme with panel details.

The IBIS Constitutional Futures Research Programme is directed by Dr Paul Gillespie, Deputy Director of IBIS. The seminar  is being planned by a cluster of interested academics at UCD and around  IBIS, including Dr Paul Gillespie  (Deputy Director IBIS), Prof Ben Tonra (Director IBIS) and Prof Jennifer Todd MRIA.