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Transcending Territory: Towards an Agreed Northern Ireland?

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

The 1998 Belfast Agreement concluded by most of the political parties in Northern Ireland and the British and Irish Governments is a very sophisticated blueprint, which attempts to deal with the various facets of a political entity in which a sizeable minority of the population wish to belong to another state. The structures and processes devised in the Belfast Agreement must cope with the so-called 'double minority' problem, ensuring that while Northern Ireland remains in the UK, it is on terms which respect and safeguard the members of the nationalist community who wish to be in a united Ireland, but also provide for the change in constitutional status from the UK to Irish unification in a manner which respects and safeguards the members of the unionist community who are opposed to that change. The Belfast Agreement, particularly in the reformulated Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution, would appear to place primacy upon people and their diversity of identities and trad itions over territory. The Belfast Agreement also operates within a special framework which accommodates national identities through sub-state and inter-state relationships in which law seeks to protect human rights, both individual and collective.

Affiliations: 1: Liverpool Law School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK


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