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Complex Power-sharing in and over Northern Ireland: a Self-determination Agreement, a Treaty, a Consociation, a Federacy, Matching Confederal Institutions, Intergovernmentalism, and a Peace Process

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Chapter Summary

The partition of Ireland in 1920 and creation of 'Northern' Ireland was justified by British policy-makers as a way of dealing with the rival identities, interests and demands of Irish nationalists and Ulster unionists. Three conflict-management regimes in and over Northern Ireland have existed since its construction. The first, 'divide and partial quit', was embedded in the Government of Ireland Act and the 1921 Treaty and lasted until 1969-1972. The second, 'arbitration with intermittent efforts to promote power-sharing', was in effect throughout most of the period between 1972 and 1985. The third, 'inter-governmentalism and coercive consociation', emerged in 1985. It established the institutional and policy environment that made complex power-sharing agreement of 1998 possible. Complex power-sharing is not exhausted by the preceding description and analysis of the elaborate consociational provisions in the Agreement. It also directly and crucially addressed the core national self-determination dispute.

Keywords: complex power-sharing; confederal institutions; conflict-management regimes; consociation; federacy; inter-governmentalism; Northern Ireland; peace process; self-determination dispute; treaty



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