The Northern Ireland Paradox

Adrian Little

in The Politics of Radical Democracy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633999
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652723 | DOI:
The Northern Ireland Paradox

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This chapter examines radical democracy through the case of Northern Ireland, once thought of as an example of intractable conflict. Northern Ireland, at least since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, has often been analysed in terms of liberal democratic consensus-driven models of democracy. The discussion argues that this is a mistake. The repeated suspensions of the democratic institutions and outbreaks of disagreement that have marked the post-Agreement period are better interpreted through the ‘paradigm of radical democracy’, with its emphasis on democracy as a fragile, contingent and always-incomplete project. Although radical democracy has undoubted strengths as an interpretive frame, particularly for divided societies in the midst of political transformation, and as a critique of liberal democracy, the chapter argues it needs to be clearer in its critique of democracy.

Keywords: Northern Ireland; radical democracy; Belfast Agreement; political transformation

Chapter.  7925 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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