Comparative Political Science and the British–Irish Agreement

Brendan O'Leary

in Northern Ireland and the Divided World

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244348
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599866 | DOI:
 Comparative Political Science and the British–Irish Agreement

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The chapter defends the Northern Ireland Agreement's consociational institutions. It notes that the Agreement also contains federal and confederal institutions covering all of Ireland and linking Ireland with Britain, and argues that both the internal and external dimensions were necessary parts of a durable settlement given the identities and aspirations of nationalists and unionists. The chapter stresses, in contrast to positions taken by Arend Lijphart and Donald Horowitz, the advantages of the particular proportional electoral system used in Northern Ireland. It also points to the dangers that Britain's tradition of parliamentary sovereignty poses to stable agreements between Britain and Ireland. Northern Ireland, the author argues, could and should have become a federacy as well as having consociational governance.

Keywords: British–Irish Agreement; confederation; consociationalism; federacy; federation; governance; Northern Ireland; parliamentary sovereignty; proportional electoral systems

Chapter.  14562 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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