European Integration and Peace in Northern Ireland:
Structural Changes and Individual Agency
Kelly Melinda Ragland
B.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts
This thesis for the Masters of Science
Kelly Melinda Ragland
Has been approved
Ragland, Kelly Melinda BA Political Science
European Integration and Northern Ireland: Structural Change and
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Christoph H. Stefes
The process of European Integration has affected the political
climate of Northern Ireland. Over the last thirty-five years,
Europeanization has helped change the norms and interests within
the region. This paper explores the relationship between European
Integration and the success of the Good Friday Agreement. My
argument is that the structural changes, brought about by European
integration, have changed norms and identities which constrain and
direct individual and group behavior. I argue that European
Integration has fundamentally changed the group dynamics
between the loyalist and republican factions, adding to the
decrease in violence and the success of the Good Friday
Agreement. This change has helped to reinforce the principles and
goals of the Good Friday Agreement and is in part responsible for
the relative peace in Northern Ireland today.
Specifically, this paper focuses on the spread of European norms
and identity as well as the way the free movement of European
citizens has changed the group relations in Northern Ireland. I
incorporate the constructivist theoretical framework with Social
Identity Theory (SIT) in order to demonstrate how norms, identities,
and group relations have changed in the region. By looking at the
interplay of structure and agency within Northern Ireland, the
theories help detail the way the chosen variables have interrelated
and constituted a new reality in Northern Ireland.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates
thesis. I recommend its publication.
This thesis is dedicated to my mom who has always encouraged
her daughters to learn and make the most of themselves. Because
if her support I was able to come away with an advanced degree, a
more developed sense of self and enjoy the entire experience
along the way.
A special thanks to Christoph Setfes, my advisor. This writing and
researching process has been a valuable learning experience and I
appreciate all the time Christoph spent, reading the various drafts
and guiding me through.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3. NORTHERN IRELAND: A CASE STUDY....................35
Agreements and Political Change.................49
Heads of State.................................75
LIST OF FIGURES
2.1 PATHWAYS OF EU IMPACT................................26
2.2 STRUCTURE AND AGENCY IN NORM AND IDENTY CHANGE...30
3.1 TROUBLES RELATED SHOOTING INCIDENTS 1971-1985........44
3.2 TROUBLES RELATED SHOOTING INCIDENTS 1986-2007........44
3.3 TROUBLES RELATED DEATHS 1971-1986....................45
3.4 TROUBLES RELATED DEATHS 1988-2008....................46
4.1 ANTI-POLISH RACIST GRAFITTI..........................90
4.2 LOYALIST MURAL.......................................90
This thesis is an investigation into the relationship between European
Integration and political change in Northern Ireland. Specifically I am
interested in how European norms, European identity, and the free movement
of European citizens have factored into the relative peace that now exists in
Northern Ireland and the success of the Good Friday Agreement. This paper
will explore these variables using a constructivist and Social Identity Theory
(SIT) framework. This chapter will give an overview of the case study and the
theoretical structure. Chapter two will detail the theoretical argument.
Chapter three will describe the case of Northern Ireland and the dependent
variables that need to be explained. Chapters four and five will look at these
dependent variables in terms of the European, independent variables and the
theoretical framework. Chapter six will summarize this discussion and give
suggestions for further research.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland signify the violence that has
occurred since the 1960s between the Catholic/lrish/nationalist/republican
and the Protestant/British/unionist/loyalist communities living in Northern
Ireland. The route of the violence can be traced to Irelands history of
colonization and to the partitioning of the island in 1921. When the island was
divided, Ireland became an independent republic comprised of 26 counties;
meanwhile 6 counties in Northern Ireland remained under British rule. The
history of conflict between the English and the Irish and ultimately the loyalists
and the nationalists spans centuries.
Early Irish history is important to understanding the circumstances of
the conflict. However I am not trying to explain why there was a conflict in
Northern Ireland, nor am I offering a comprehensive explanation of the
process of peace and reconciliation. This thesis is concerned with the way
European integration changed the political culture of Northern Ireland over the
course of the Troubles and how this change facilitated the success of the
Good Friday Agreement1. The case of Northern Ireland can be explained
using the constructivist theoretical framework. According to this theory,
European integration has been a structural change that affected the process
of peace and reconciliation. Likewise the internal agency happening in
Northern Ireland has played its own part. Neither of these can be looked at in
isolation, in fact the structure and the agency interplay to create the reality
that is peaceful today.
There have been many examples of failed peace agreements in
Ireland and elsewhere. However, the Good Friday Agreement, signed in
1 The Good Friday Agreement is also referred to as the Belfast Agreement or the Stormont Agreement.
1998, was successful and has been followed by a decade of relative peace.
My hypothesis is that the Europeanization, much of which occurred between
the 1985 and 1998 agreements, was a critical variable that created a culture
ready for reconciliation. I want to test whether European integration mattered
when the political leaders came together to make a successful deal in 1998.
Equally as important, how did integration encourage the relevant groups to
support and uphold the agreement in the many years that have passed since
the agreement was implemented? I argue that following the failed 1995
Anglo-Irish Agreement, European integration created conditions necessary for
stability and peace. There is a definite correlation between the degree of
European integration and the level of Troubles related violence, over this
time. Europeanization has contributed to the drastic decrease in violence,
the permanence of the Good Friday Agreement and has ultimately helped
move the Troubles into the past tense.
Trine Flockhart defines Europeanization as having,
... internal and external, material and ideational, and domestic
and international dimensions... Europeanization involves a
political unification project in which Europe is becoming more
unified through both Europe-wide institution-building and
domestic adaptation. It also involves more subtle processes,
however, which aim to change identity through development of
new norms...(Flockhart 2005, 252).
Given the complexity of this process, I cannot comprehensively explore all
aspects of Europeanization in relation to the Northern Irish case. Therefore, I
will specifically look at two variables. At the elite level, the emergence of a
European identity has been important in terms of institutionalizing European
norms. At the community level, demographic changes have altered the way
the conflicting groups relate to each other. For example, new groups have
moved into the region making the clear divide between Catholic and
Protestant mush less distinct. While various different populations now exit in
Northern Ireland, discernible by ethnicity and nationality, I will focus on the
Polish immigrants. It is European policy that has allowed the free influx of
Eastern Europeans, thus creating a demographic change in the region.
During the period of European integration, the violence in Northern
Ireland has substantially declined. By the turn of this century, deaths and
violent incidents related to the Troubles were a fraction of what they were
during the bloodiest years. Although neither side of the conflict has seen their
ultimate aspirations realized, they are no longer using violence as the primary
way of achieving political ends; the Good Friday Agreement has been
effective for over ten years. The Troubles are over. They ended because
group relations have fundamentally changed within the relevant communities
and because the political elite found themselves operating under different
institutional norms then they were in the previous three decades. My
underlying assumption is that European integration has played an important
role in these processes.
Because this is a case of Europe affecting a border conflict, I find the
international relations theory of social constructivism applicable. This logic
maintains that social processes, including group and individual actions and
perceptions, make up the social reality. Reality is not fixed nor objective,
instead it is always changing depending on actions and perceptions. The
case of Northern Ireland provides a test for this constructivist logic. According
to the theory, European integration as a structural change has affected the
process of peace and reconciliation. Likewise, the internal agency happening
in Northern Ireland has played its own part. Structure and the agency
interplay to create the reality that is peaceful today.
However, as scholars such as Trine Flockhart have pointed out, social
constructivism lacks an adequate explanation of how and why identities
change. The way group and elite identities have changed among the
communities in Northern Ireland is key to understanding the role of European
Integration. Therefore I need a theoretical framework that will detail this
process and that will account for the way external variables contribute to the
change. Following her example, I will use the social psychological theory
called social identity theory (SIT) to supplement social constructivism and
help explain the importance of Europeanization in terms of the Northern Irish
conflict. This theory looks at identity in terms of group membership, how
individuals act, their perceptions and their interests based on the group they
are in as well as the groups they are not part of.
The relevant literature is diverse; it includes research on integration
theory, international relations theory, social psychology theory, and writings
that explore the relationship between identity, security, and integration. While
there is not a shortage of literature on these subjects, there is a need to find
linkages between the various studies. Therefore, I will review the relevant
literature and use the Northern Ireland case to draw these theoretical
concepts together. This paper will be a test of whether these multidisciplinary
theories can fit together in order to explain how the context of regionalization
has affected the process of conflict resolution.
The method I am employing in this thesis is to use a theoretical
framework in order to take a detailed look at a specific instance of political
change. The case study will use different accounts of the history of political
violence and change in Northern Ireland, including books, newspaper articles,
autobiographies, journal articles, speeches and interviews. I rely on journal
articles to create the theoretical model that explains the case study.
In order to apply the chosen theories to the case study, it is necessary
to look at various sources that have tracked the conflict over time in terms of
violent incidents. I will also present data that gages the emergence of
European identities in Northern Ireland. Sponsored by the European Union,
The Eurobarometer is a complication of surveys that provide quantitative data
about public opinion within Europe. While the Eurobarometer is often used
to track demographic changes, unfortunately it does not record results for
Northern Ireland separate from the United Kingdom. The emergence of
European identity is relatively new, compelling me to work with the few
surveys that are available. Therefore, I will be unable to draw conclusions
about the emergence of European identity among the masses in Northern
Ireland. At that level, I can make more conclusive deductions about the
demographic change in Northern Ireland and how this has transformed the
conflict dynamic. Limited studies on European migration into the region are
Qualitative data will be critical when looking at the emergence of
European identity among the political elite. Narratives, written statements,
newspaper quotes, autobiographies, speeches, and interviews with elites
from each side of the conflict will show identity prototypes, stereotypes, and
perceptions. I will look at the way these have changed over the course of the
conflict and explain how this change parallels the process of deeper
European integration. It will be critical to look at the way each side, unionist
and republican, depict or stereotype each other, how they perceive and
internalize the idea of Europe and how this has changed over time.
The elite actors I will investigate are John Hume, Jerry Adams, Ian
Paisley, David Trimble, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair. By looking at the
qualitative data, I will determine who considers themselves European and
who does not, which identities are the most salient and when, and what effect
the non-European identity has on those who are European and vice-versa.
This will help clarify what the emergence of European identity has meant for
I expect that the theories will ultimately explain the role that the free
movement of European citizens and European identity have played in
decreasing the violence in Northern Ireland and maintaining the Good Friday
Agreement. The policy of free movement of European citizens and the
development of a European identity are my independent variables and the
decrease in violence accompanied by the success of the Good Friday
Agreement is my dependent variable. A detailed and important test will be to
look at the role that European migrants have played in Northern Ireland since
the borders were opened and what their presence has meant within the
context of the conflict. Equally as relevant will be the evaluation of the elite
actors, in terms of European identity.
It is difficult to set a date of when the Troubles started and when they
ended because history connects to history and constitutes new realities as
time passes. However, for the purpose of this paper I will consider the late
1960s as the birth of the Troubles; by 2006 I will show that the term is no
longer used to depict the current political situation. I will look for ways that the
EU has diffused European norms and ideas during this time and especially
during the years between the 1985 and 1998 agreements. I will show that
this norm change coincides with the change in the level of violence and that
the norms that underlie European integration are the same norms that have
been successful in helping to end the violence in the region.
It is important to note that the hypothesis of this paper is not that the
independent variables chosen are the only reasons that violence has
decreased in Northern Ireland. The situation is very complicated and there
are a multitude of independent variables at work; some positively related to
the peace process, some negatively related and others may be both. While I
hope to explain the function of two independent variables, I also expect to
identify many more phenomena at work. By identifying these variables, I will
give suggestions for further research.
Europe has been going through the process of integration since the
end of WWII. The social consequences of integration have been gradual and
are still being felt and quantified. Therefore one difficulty is the challenge of
finding relevant and timely studies on European identity and European
migration within Northern Ireland. If the resources for this project were much
greater, I could envision collecting my own data, in terms of original surveys
and studies. Unfortunately, that is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore,
I rely on existing research, which was less than ideal. There is a failure to
look at Northern Ireland as a region of its own, with unique attitudes toward
Europe. Studies by the EU combine this regions results with those of the
whole United Kingdom. This is unfortunate because specific regional
research could have been important for determining the degree of
Europeanization in Northern Ireland. It was not only identity related data that
combined the region with the nation, but general demographic data sets were
often summarized at the national level as well. Is this a conscious attempt to
deemphasize the national divisions in Northern Ireland? I will revisit this topic
in the conclusion of this thesis.
My first chapter discusses the relevant theories and what they mean in
terms of Northern Ireland. Chapter Two summarizes the Troubles in Northern
Ireland, the data related to the decrease in violence, and the success of the
Good Friday Agreement. Chapters Three and Four are concerned with
European integration, European norms and identity and specifically the policy
granting the free movement of European citizens. Chapter Five applies the
theory to the case study. I conclude by summarizing the findings and
providing suggestions for further research.
In this chapter I will summarize the main tenets and assumptions of
social constructivism and social identity theory (SIT). I will discuss the
writings of the leading scholars in these fields and show that these two
theories are well matched to explain political change. Next I will develop a
framework that combines the two theories in order to explain the Northern
Ireland case study.
Social constructivism is an approach that has its origins in the 1960s
(Berger and Luckmann, 1966). As a general social science theory, social
constructivism postulates that human interaction creates reality, that nothing
is inevitable and that norms, ideas, and perceptions are significant to the
process of making reality. While this process is generally not intentional,
social constructivism highlights the role of human agency in conjunction with
structural factors. Together, structure and agency interact and constitute
ideas, norms, identities, interests, and ultimately reality.
As a political science approach, social constructivism has
predominantly been applied to the analysis of international relations.
Prominent scholars using this theory include Alexander Wendt, Martha
Finnemore, John Ruggie, Thomas Risse, and others. For this literature
review, I will focus on writings by Alexander Wendt, due to his prominence in
the field. I will draw on the writings by Finnemore, Risse and Ruggie in order
to understand the development of European norms. I will further explore the
work of Thomas Diez, Stephen Stetter, and Marthias Albert because they
have developed a framework especially applicable to the Northern Irish case.
I will also rely on the work of Trine Flockhart because she has attempted to
incorporate SIT with the constructivist approach while trying to explain the
different Danish attitudes toward European integration.
Alexander Wendt summarizes the constructivist theory in terms of
international relations (1992, 1994, 1996). He argues that, the fundamental
principle of constructivist social theory is that people act toward objects,
including other actors, on the basis of the meanings that the objects have for
them...It is collective meanings that constitute the structures which organize
our actions (Wendt 1992, 396-397). Wendt explains that interests emanate
from (endogenous) identities as well as from (exogenous) structure. While
actors have an array of identities, the interests that determine action correlate
with the social context (Wendt 1992, 398).
As an endogenous factor, social constructivism sees identity as an
important factor in social and political dynamics. Wendt speaks of identities in
terms of roles within groups. In order for identities to change, Wendt says
that there must be, a reason to think of oneself in novel terms, and that the
perceived benefits of role change must outweigh the costs (Wendt 1992,
419). However, identity change is not a one-sided phenomenon. Since the
self is always defined in part by the other, when the other-identity changes
this can affect the self-identity. According to this logic, because identities are
mutually constituted, if the self changes the way it perceives the other, then
the other will internalize this perception and in turn begin to change the way it
sees itself (Wendt 1992, 421). In terms of groups, if the in-group redefines its
stereotypes and perceptions of the out-group, this will fundamentally change
the way the out-group perceives itself.
As an exogenous factor, that drives interests in social constructivist
theory, norms are both constraints on behavior as well as tools of agency.
Norms are defined as standard[s] of appropriate behavior for actors with a
given identity (Finnemore 1998, 891). According to Finnemore, ...norms
make similar behavioral claims on dissimilar actors, [therefore] they create
coordinated patterns of behavior that we can study and about which we can
theorize (Finnemore 1996 158).
Ideas are closely related to norms in that norms are institutionalized
ideas. Ideas are beliefs that individuals and groups have about the way
things are and the way things should be based on their experiences and
understandings. According to Amitav Acharya ...ideas can be held privately,
and may or may not have behavioral implications, while norms are always
collective and behavioral. (2004, 240).
According to the constructivist scholars Finnemore and Sikkink,
Norms do not appear out of thin air (1998, 896). Norms are the product of
normative entrepreneurs and organizations that support and promote norms
through expertise, financing, and credibility (Ibid., p 898-899). According to
Finnemore, norms are perpetuated in different ways. First, norms that go
unchallenged continue to gain ground and acceptance (Finnemore 1996,
472). Secondly, when norms develop along with other mutually reinforcing
and consistent norms, they are more likely to be successful in entering the
mainstream (Ibid., 160). Thirdly, when norms are accepted by institutions
there is a positive effect on their dissemination and they are more likely to be
The EU was built upon norms that have been reflected
throughout the process of integration. The Treaty of the European Union
states, The Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law (Bretherton
and Vogler 2006, 38). Together, agency, structure and ideas/norms
determine identities and interests that in turn inform political action and norm
institutionalization in Europe.
Constructivism details the exogenous and endogenous reasons for
identity change. It also tells us that this change is a critical factor in changing
interests. However, there is a common criticism of constructivism which
points out that the theory fails to detail the way that identities change. While
this is a critical aspect of the general theory, it has been left substantially
under-explained. When looking at a volume that includes many writings from
many prominent constructivist scholars, Kowert and Legro conclude, ...about
the process of identity construction, the authors have relatively little to say.
And without any theory about how such identities are constructed and evolve,
this research struggles to contribute more to an understanding of political
behavior than the work that it criticizes2 (Kowert and Legro 1996, 469).
Social Identity Theory
SIT can help explain identity change, thus becoming a useful
supplement to social constructivism. SIT is a social psychological theory that
2 The work that it criticizes are the liberal and realist theories.
sets out to explain group processes and intergroup relations (Hogg et al.
1995, 255). It was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s by Henri Tajfel in
studying the cognitive aspects of racism, discrimination, and prejudice (Hogg
et al. 1995, 259). John Turner expanded the effort by contributing self-
categorization theory in the 1980s. Prior to the development of SIT, the
prominent social psychological theory was group cohesiveness. SIT theorists
criticize group cohesiveness, because it focuses on the individual level in
terms of individual attraction and mental and cognitive processes (Hogg 1993,
89). In other words, it tries to explain group behavior by detailing how
individual members of the group relate to each other. Their assumption is
that the total of individual behavior is equivalent to the groups behavior. SIT
disagrees and moves the level of analysis from the individual to the group.
The basis of SIT and self-categorization theory is group membership
and the way individuals categorize themselves in relation to the groups they
are part of (in-groups) and the ones they are not part of (out-groups).
Individuals have a variety of in-groups they identify with and their salient
membership changes depending on the context. SIT asserts that social
groups have shared social identities that are descriptive, prescriptive, and
evaluative (Hogg 1993, 92). Thus behavior, beliefs, and perceptions become
stereotypical, both in relation to oneself and in relation to others (Hogg 1993,
The processes that form social identity are categorization and self-
enhancement. Categorization serves as a mechanism to define social groups
and thus social identity with clear boundaries. It is a way of simplifying and
filtering the social information to produce normative perceptions and actions
(Hogg 2003, 92). During categorization, generalized aspects of the group
become accentuated and exaggerated. The level of perception is
depersonalized as members of in-groups and out-groups are stereotyped.
Groups establish prototypes of the ideal group member. Hogg explains that
these are fuzzy sets of characteristics not check lists and they often are
based on real individuals (Hogg 1993, 93). Hogg et al. say that, ...enduring
changes in prototypes and thus in self-conception can occur if the relavant
comparison out-group changes overtime... (1995, 261).
A key assumption of SIT is that individuals seek self esteem; therefore
they want to see their group as favorable. This is why the self-enhancement
step occurs. Typically when evaluating their in-group and the other out-group
it is self-beneficial to discredit the out-group. As Hogg explains, subjective
belief structures are the perceptions of individuals that determine the
relationship between their group and the relevant out-group. These are
important because they help prescribe behavior that seeks to maximize self-
enhancement and positive social identity (Hogg 1003, 92-93).
In order to incorporate SIT into the constructivist framework, it is
helpful to review the work of Trine Flockhart because she has used the two
theories together to explain the different attitudes in Demark towards
European Integration. Flockhart supplements the constructivist lens, which
emphasizes the connection between preferences, identity and norms, with the
more detailed explanation of identity transformation that comes from SIT.
According to Flockhart, norms are usually stable structures (2005,
258); they change slowly over time. Shifting norms are a type of cultural
change. Kowert and Legro say that, cultural change is likely to be slow and
incremental unless there is ...an obvious shock to the international (or
domestic) political system... (Kowert and Legro 1996, 472). This shock can
cause norms to transform more quickly and drastically. The shock acts as a
catalyst for change because it proves that politics must be conducted
differently...or thought about differently (Kowert and Legro 1996 473).
Flockhart uses Marcussens ideational lifecycle to explain this change.
After the critical juncture or destabilizing shock, there is an ideational vacuum
where ideas compete for superiority. Diffusion mechanisms are used to
promote the ideas. Marcussen identifies these mechanisms as coercive,
normative and mimetic (2000, 19). According to Flockhart, the success of
these methods depends on, the reconstituting of actor identities and
changing attitudes (Flockhart 2005, 259). Coercive mechanisms are types of
sticks and carrots. Normative mechanisms are related to epistemic
communities that is, a group of people who share and value common
norms. Whether the epistemic community is a state, an organization or any
other group unified by common ideas, their existence helps to further
legitimize the norms they value. Mimetic diffusion is also related to
legitimacy. Generally, when ideas are successfully institutionalized within a
society or political system, which appears to benefit from their existence,
others will tend replicate the acceptance based on the perceived benefit.
Once an idea set wins, the norms are institutionalized and it is
possible for related policies to be legitimate and well functioning (Flockhart
2005, 259). While this seems a linear process, it is not necessarily so. The
situation can oscillate from norm diffusion back to critical juncture indefinitely.
There is no guarantee that norms will be generally accepted and
A critical juncture creates an ideational vacuum where governments
struggle to find policy solutions that will lead to stability. In her work,
Flockhart looks at the end of the Cold War as the critical juncture that caused
the ...elite to have to reconsider nearly all aspects of foreign policy: (2005,
263). Historically there have been more obvious examples of this. With end
of WWII came the creation of the United Nations. We can go back even
further to see that the Thirty-Years War and the Eight Years War in Europe
lead to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. War is an institutionalized form of
mass violence and is often a clear critical juncture or shock to the system,
leading to new policies.
When an ideational vacuum occurs, norm entrepreneurs promote
specific normative ideas, hoping they will be institutionalized into policy. For
example, after WWII, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were
among the political elite promoting the United Nations as a policy solution that
promoted the norms ...life, liberty, independence ... religious freedom [and]
human rights and justice... (Declaration by the United Nations 1942).
Similarly, Risse-Kappen explains the policy changes that led to the end of the
Cold War as new-thinking by Gorbachev (1994, 193). Not only does he see
political leaders as norm entrepreneurs, he looks at how domestic intellectual
communities and transnational networks specifically played an
entrepreneurial role in policy changes that led to the end of the Cold War
During the ideational vacuum, a perturbation can also occur that
further changes the political context. The perturbation is the effect of an
external or structural influence that changes the dynamics of social
interaction. Relationships between groups change as a result of the
perturbation. In terms of the EU, Diez et al. give examples of intentional and
unintentional perturbation saying, EU activities, such as the Euro-
Mediterranean Partnership... can be seen as attempts to facilitate the
perturbation through the EU framework (2004, 14). Carrots and sticks are
ways the EU (or other actor) can have an intentional impact on a situation
(Diez et al., 2005, 573). An example of an unintentional impact, specifically a
constructive impact, is the way Western Europe has transformed into a
peaceful collection of states. This is directly related to the creation and
evolution of the European Union and its institutions (Diez et. al, 2004, 18).
Norms create and limit options for appropriate behavior, thus
discouraging identity development that contradicts the norm. We live in a
completely different social reality compared to times when slavery was legal,
when women were considered a secondary class in the western world, or
when it was acceptable to have children work 12 hour days in coal mines.
This is not to say that norms today are ideal, static, or universal. The world
will continue to be constructed and reconstructed to reflect the perceptions,
interests and identities of those who inhabit it. Who knows what this will look
like in fifty or one-hundred years. Things that are acceptable today might be
shocking to our grand-childrens children, and they may have practices that
would be shocking to us. The point is that whatever the institutionalized
norms may be, they are significant factors in how people act and how they
According to constructivism and SIT, the identities of the groups are
partially determined by one another. They rely on each other for distinction.
Hogg et al. use the example of Catholics, Protestants and Muslims to
illustrate the possibility of identity change. They say that ...social identity is
highly dynamic, and depends on what out-group is salient in the immediate
social context (1995, 261). For instance ...if Catholics gradually come to
define themselves in contradiction to Muslims rather than to Protestants...
prototypes will change thus changing the definitions and identities of the
relevant groups (ibid.).
Wendt would say that for violent group dichotomy to change, members
of one group would have to change the way they relate to the other group.
This would spark a process that could ultimately change both identities.
Since changing the perception of the other depends on having a reason to do
so, there would have to be a motivation within the Northern Irish case for
either community to initiate a change.
In order to identify what could motivate could be, I will draw on the
writings of Thomas Diez and his colleagues. They write specifically about
border conflicts in the European context. They give an alternative to the
neofunctionalist approach, which is a popular explanation of European
integration (Diez et al. 2004, 2-3). This approach developed out of the
functionalist school, founded by David Mitrany in the 1950s. For
neofunctionalism, integration would promote regional peace because of the
transfer of loyalty that happens within society, based on perceived benefits
offered by the supranational governance structure. Furthermore, the ties that
are created by technical associations create mutual economic interests and
eliminate the possibility of violent conflict (Ibid.). This focus on loyalty
realignment is similar to the constructivist idea of identity shift, however the
two concepts differ because neofunctionalism is talking about loyalties based
on rational, economic interests. Constructivism offers a more cognitively
based approach that understands that identities are constructed by social
structures and, the body and experience of consciousness (Wendt 1994,
In the constructivist tradition, Diez et al. give a model of four pathways
by which the EU can affect border conflicts. They strive to find the link
between integration and peace (Diez, et al. 2004, 4). Before detailing the four
pathways framework, Diez et al. characterize border conflicts and use the
term perturber to describe the active role of the EU therein. Their
understanding of conflict is the incompatibility of subject positions (Diez et
al. 2005, 4). The subject position is comprised of the interests and identity of
the subject; which could be a state or another cohesive entity or group. In
order to affect the conflict, the EU must change the subject positions, or
interests and identities of the subjects. If this happens, the EU is a perturber
because it fundamentally changes the way the conflicting subjects relate to
each other. As Diez et al. say, a perturbation, destabilizes a conflict by
provoking a conflict with the conflict (Diez et al. 2004, 14). This creates a
reason for the self and other to identify differently. They provide the example
of European integration and the change in subject positions of Germany and
France in the post WWII era (Diez et al. 2004, 4-5).
The focus on malleable subject positions is distinctively constructivist.
Realist and neoliberal scholars argue that subject positions are rationally
given and fixed. Neoliberals, for instance, would assert that conflict can be
resolved by using economic interests to encourage the conflicting parties to
relate peacefully. However, the interests are always to be predominantly
economic, not based on identity. Realists likewise see interests as fixed,
based on security concerns and the innate need for power. Both of these
theories see interests as exogenously given while constructivists see interests
as mutually constituted based on interactions and perceptions. Neoliberals
would see the role of the EU as a promoter of economic benefits and
neorealists would see it as a means to empowerment in the global system.
Constructivists see the EU in terms of discourse and interaction. For
constructivists there are no given outcomes; interests are changed slowly
depending on a variety of socially constructive factors. These factors can be
on the agent level such as identity, or the structural level such as government
policy or international crises.
The four paths outlined by Diez et al. describe the possible courses of
impact for perturbers. Two are actor-driven and two are structurally driven.
Consistent with constructivist ideology, there is always a possibility of
interplay between these two levels (Diez et al. 2004, 15). Diez et al. also
explain that the approaches fall along two dimensions. The first has to do
with whether there are EU policies, initiated by political actors at the
supranational level, that intend to create the specific change or if the impact
results from the more general process of European Integration. In the second
dimension, the EU policies or unintended effect of EU integration either
impacts specific policies or more generally makes changes at the societal
level. When EU actors target political leadership and specific policies it is a
compulsory impact. When they aim to change society more generally, it is a
connective impact. On the structural level, where the process of EU
integration unintentionally creates change at the level of specific policy or
political leadership there is an enabling impact and when this process results
in broad societal change it is a constructive impact.
PATHWAYS OF EU IMPACT Approach by EU
Actor-driven Integration process
Target of impact Policy (1) Compulsory impact Society (3) Connective impact (2) Enabling impact (4) Constructive impact
Figure 2.1 (Diez et al. 2006, 572)
For the purpose of this paper, I will focus on the constructive and
enabling impacts because they speak to the specific European variables that I
am focusing on as well as the corresponding level of societal focus. The
premise of the constructive impact is that new discourses are created that
change the underlying factors that contribute to identity formation. Again, this
creates a reason for identities to change. Diez et al. say that while this is a
gradual process, it is the most effective way of altering a conflict situation
(Diez et al. 2004, 17-18).
Once a norm has already been institutionalized into the mainstream,
as in the case of norms within the EU, there is an (enabling or constructive)
impact on identity. This has happened throughout the latter half of the 20th
century and now into the 21st century with the development of European
identity. While I cannot argue here that this identity is nearly a salient as
national identities, European is a clear marker used to describe people in
Europe. This would not have been the case prior to the formation of the
European Economic Community.
According to this logic, new discourses have been established as a
result of European integration. The Diez model would see these increasing
and permeating Northern Ireland over time. Once the impact was great
enough, identities of groups within the region would change. This model is
not used to predict how identities change, because that depends on variables
at all levels (agent, structure, and normative). Yet it is useful to predict that a
change will occur due to the existence of new discourses, created by the EU
as a perturber, and that this change can be expected to be a relatively
permanent transformation. Since the EU is the perturber and a structural
aspect of this case, I will look at the constructive impact caused by the free
movement of EU citizens and the enabling impact of European identity and
how these have created change that is conductive to peaceful relations
between conflict parties (Diez 2004, 17).
The enabling impact will relate to the elite level of society. This can be
an indirect effect of the perturber. Therefore, the EU does not have to
attempt to promote peaceful change, yet this may become an unintended
consequence. The institutional framework of the EU can be a reference point
for political elites and therefore add credibility and power to their efforts (Diez
2004, 17). The enabling impact is the result of the emergence of European
identity as well as the regional process of integration. The EU has had
different articulations of identity throughout the years. The preservation and
respect for national identity is a common theme, yet the EU struggles to
create a supranational identity of its own as an international actor.
Meanwhile, the promotion of European identity at the individual level has
been a sensitive endeavor. Therefore, the identity formation that takes place
happens through individuals experience and interaction with European
institutions and with others who consider themselves European. This is why
European identity is predominantly developing and acting as an enabling
impact at the elite level in Northern Ireland.
According to Flockhart, after a critical juncture, there would be
evidence of diffusion mechanisms, used by those promoting particular norms
(2005, 259). Marcussen reminds us that there is never a normative vacuum,
since there are always preexisting norms with which the new norms compete
(Marcussen 2000, 8). Preexisting norms in Northern Ireland were based on
security and stability. These ideas are evident in the policing system of
Northern Ireland during the first 50 years of its existence. Measures such as
internment and trial without jury (known as the Diplock courts) that resulted in
a 90% conviction rate among suspected paramilitaries reflected the emphasis
on security over individual rights (Tounge 2002, 86).
Since, ideas... do not float freely, political actors must promote ideas
and try to influence political culture and policy (Risse-Kappen 1994, 187). In
Northern Ireland, the norms of human rights, equality and tolerance
(promoted by the civil rights activists and the European integrationists) won
and became institutionalized within the political structure. Therefore, one
would expect to see policy implemented that is related to these norms.
Drawing from constructivism and SIT, I have developed an analytical
framework that depicts how the processes of Europeanization have
contributed to a resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict. The chart below is
a visual explanation of the theories that I have incorporated to explain why
European integration has positively related to the success of the Good Friday
Agreement. This framework captures the interplay of exogenous, structure
(represented with a box outline) and endogenous, agency (represented with a
circle outline) as well as the way the many factors in the theories interrelate
and impact one another. It is important to remember that constructivist
theories are not linear. This is a situation involving many interrelated factors.
Therefore, the diagram is meant to simplify and explain while still detailing the
many mutually constitutive variables.
STRUCTURE AND AGENCY IN NORM AND IDENTITY CHANGE
The model above, which I have developed, begins with a critical
juncture. This shock to the system creates an ideational vacuum that opens
the political reality to new ideas that compete for institutionalization in the
mainstream. Individuals and groups use their agency to promote and
diffuse the ideas they believe in. At this point the political climate is ripe for
at perturber that can further impact political change. Ultimately the perturber
can influence what norms are accepted and how identities are formed. The
two modes of impact in the chart are constructive impact and enabling
impact. The former happens at the societal level, changing the dynamic of
group identities and relationships because of the processes of self-
categorization and self-esteem. The perturber has an enabling impact that
shapes politics at the elite level, affecting the way individual identities develop
based on the political context and adding legitimacy to certain norms.
Ultimately identities change for actors and groups at the elite and societal
levels and norms are institutionalized as part of the political structure.
According to the framework set up by Wendt, the situation in Northern
Ireland should be seen as a reality created by the interaction of those
inhabiting it. Individuals and groups are in part able to determine their reality
by their actions. Decisions about whether to sign an agreement, shake hands
with a leader from the other community, plant a bomb, attend a protest, or
respect a law, all inform the reality of the conflict. Agency matters at both the
elite and the group levels. Actors make decisions based on their perceived
interests. However, actors are also constrained to a degree by structural
factors such as the economy, the historical context, culture, institutionalized
prejudices, the external political circumstances. Norms are institutionalized
within these structural factors.
The violence that corresponded with the civil rights movement was the
critical juncture in Northern Ireland that opened the door for the rapid influx of
the corresponding norms. The identification and definition of a critical
juncture or shock is admittedly problematic. Kowert and Legro also see this
as a theoretical dilemma, one difficulty in this type of argument lies in
defining what counts as a shock...how shocking must shocks be? (Kowert
and Legro 1996, 474). While WWII and the Cold War can easily be accepted
as major systemic shocks, I argue that relative to Northern Ireland, with a
population of roughly 1.5 million, a decade of bloodshed ranging from 80-479
deaths per year was also a meaningful shock. It was a critical juncture that
clearly highlighted the failure of the status quo.
Risse-Kappen says, Ideas intervene between material power-related
[structural] factors on the one hand and state interests and preferences on the
other (1994,186). While Risse-Kappen writes about the international level of
politics, this principle also applies to the regional and domestic levels.
Therefore, in terms of Northern Ireland, norms intervene between structural
factors, on one hand, and elite and group interests, on the other.
In Northern Ireland, the prevailing norm of the political establishment
between 1921 and the early 1960s was security. The acceptance of majority
rule and Catholic oppression was based on the perception that the political
structures were reasonably stable and the region was secure. The shift to
norms correlating with the civil rights movement was simultaneously
influencing actors behavior, while being perpetuated and amplified by the
actors. These norms were equality, cooperation, tolerance, and human
rights. These norms corresponded to and were reinforced by the new
discourse within the EU.
Applying the constructivist perspective, specifically the focus on the
interplay of all factors, to the Northern Irish case can enhance the
understanding of group relations. Constructivists say that at the agent level,
there must be a reason for one group to have a new view of the other group.
Therefore, they would argue that the European Union has created a reason
and thus enabled the relationship change. The perturber changes the
context, alters the available options for identity and thus reshapes interests.
When applied to this case, a SIT perspective would say that the Catholic and
Protestant groups in Northern Ireland create the in-group and out-group
dynamic. As discussed from the constructivist point of view, they constitute
each other based on their differences. In order to maximize understanding,
differences are accentuated and similarities downplayed. Each group
stereotypes and depersonalizes the out-group. According to SIT, actions are
based on these stereotypes. Meanwhile the Protestant and Catholic
communities also seek to maximize their positive perception of self.
According to this, we would expect to see prototypes idealized by each in-
group and negative depictions of the other group.
It is noted by the SIT theorists that while the theory is based on
cognitive processes, external factors are also important. Since individuals
have multiple in-groups that make up their social identity, the situation they
are in will determine their salient in-group. Hogg explains that the
determination will be based on maximizing meaning, relevance, clarity, and
favorability (Hogg 1995, 261-262). This emphasis on context is consistent
with the way SIT privileges societal factors over individual mental processes
(Hogg 1995, 262) and is also consistent with Wendts explanation that credits
institutional elements for shaping identity (Jepperson, Wendt and
Katzenstein 1996, 52). He asserts that interests, which drive action, come
from identities that are shaped by structural factors (including norms). He
says that salient identities are determined by what the individual perceives as
appropriate in a given context.3 This is why European Integration (specifically
the development of European Identity and European norms) is an important
factor in the changing political reality of Northern Ireland.
Social science theories are necessary tools for understanding political
change. The discussion above draws from two academic disciplines in an
effort to build a theoretical model that is useful in the case of Northern Ireland.
3 We can use Hogg to define appropriate as whatever would maximize meaning,
relevance, clarity and favorability.
I have examined social constructivism and SIT and developed a framework
that incorporates the two theories. This is an integration of the work by
Marcussen, Diez et. al., and Hogg, based on the assumptions offered by
Wendt and the constructivist tradition. In the next chapters I will elaborate on
the details of the Northern Ireland Case and use this framework to explain the
success of the Good Friday Agreement and the political change that has
occurred in Northern Ireland over the last two decades.
NORTHERN IRELAND: A CASE STUDY
This chapter presents the dependent variables in the Northern Ireland
case study. Why has peace finally prevailed in the region and why did the
Good Friday Agreement prove to be a lasting peace accord? The following
chapters will address these questions based on the theoretical frame work I
set up in Chapter Two, but first it is important to understand what has
happened in the region over the last twenty years. This chapter will focus in
the details of conflict, peace and reconciliation.
By the 1960s, Northern Ireland had experienced the partition of 1921,
which ultimately created the free Irish state and left six counties in the north
within the British Commonwealth. The demographic makeup of the northern
region has historically been one-third Catholic and two-thirds Protestants.
However, the demographics are changing due to high birth rates among
Catholics and immigration. According to the 2001 census, there were
1,685,267 people living in the region. Currently, about 43% of the population
is Protestant and about 40% is Catholic (Northern Ireland Statistics &
Research Agency, 2008). While there are certainly exceptions (more now
then there were in the past), Catholics overwhelmingly identify themselves as
Irish, and Protestants identify as British. The Irish-Catholics want the island
to be unified, independent of Britain. This is why they are also referred to as
republicans. The Protestant-unionists insist on their tie to Britain, thus they
are also called loyalists.
Irish independence was the result of centuries of bloodshed.
Colonialism, oppression, and discrimination pitted the Catholics against the
Protestants. Both the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the unionist militants
have roots that were cultivated during the fight for independence. Prior to the
height of the Troubles, the bloodiest years of the divided island were its first.
Between 1920 and 1922, 428 people were killed by the fighting factions
(McKittrick and McVea 2002, 4).
As the years passed, due to unionist domination of the government
and repression of the Catholic community, the violence was subdued. It was
not that there was peace and there certainly was not justice. However, there
was some stability during this period; security was the priority. The British
government gave the Protestant ruling class the means to achieve security,
while equality and human rights for the minority group was sacrificed. One
mechanism used to control the population was internment. This was
imprisonment without trial, usually used to incarcerate suspected republican
paramilitaries. Gerrymandering insured minimal political representation of
Catholics. Housing policies, job discrimination, and Protestant control of the
police force insured that discrimination benefited the Protestants and left the
Catholics struggling to feed their families.
From the 1920s until the early 1960s, the situation in Northern Ireland
was generally ignored both by the British and the international community.
While the United States had domestic interest in the Irish plight, due to the
high number of Irish-Americans, neither the international context nor the
domestic status of the Irish population in the United States enabled action on
the part of the US government. During the early 1900s, Irish Americans still
existed in ghetto neighborhoods and were a minority population in the
United States (Rasmussen 1968, 285). It was not until the 1960s that the
Irish Americans were fully established as part of the dominant (white) group,
were economically successful and finally wielded substantial political power in
the United States (Ibid.). Since the UK was the most valued ally of the US,
during World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War, interfering in what
was perceived as a domestic situation was out of the question.
Yet the 1960s brought change throughout the United States and
Europe. As the civil rights movement spread into the region the smoldering
conflict in Northern Ireland ruptured. While the political structures of Northern
Ireland were able to keep violence at bay through the first half of the
twentieth-century, new norms and expectations were gaining ground. The
civil rights movement was a shock to all groups involved and it led to extreme
violence; the status quo was in crisis.
The main groups at odds in Northern Ireland have been the
nationalists and the unionists, yet there are many factions within these
communities. The largest nationalist parties are Sinn Fein whose most public
figure has been Gerry Adams, and the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP)
that was lead by John Hume from 1979-2001. Hume received the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1998 for his outstanding efforts in the peace process. The
Irish Republican Army (IRA) has been the largest and most notorious
paramilitary group on the nationalist side. Other, more radical, groups have
splintered off including the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), the
Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), and the Real Irish Republican
Army (RIRA) (Melaugh, Abstracts on Organizations).
Within the unionist community, there are multiple political parties. The
two most prominent are the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster
Unionist Party (UUP). The DUP is currently lead by Ian Paisley who is known
for his anti-agreement stance and his dogmatic religious position. The UUP
was lead by David Trimble from 1995-2005. Trimble was also awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. A few of the largest loyalist paramilitary factions
are the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), the Ulster Defense Association
(UDA), and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) (Melaugh, Abstracts on
Throughout the Troubles, these groups and their leaders have been
both the perpetrators of violence and the negotiators of peace. They
represent the communities that have suffered due to the violence. Between
1969 and 2001, 1523 Catholics and 1287 Protestants, as well 716 others
were killed because of the Troubles (Sutton, An Index of Deaths...Summary
of Religion). Republican paramilitaries were responsible for 2056 deaths and
loyalists for 1020 (Sutton, An Index of Deaths...Summary of Organization).
The political elite in Britain and Ireland have also been important actors
in the Troubles. Some were more successful than others, and approaches
have varied considerably. Labor party officials from Britain had a natural
affiliation with the nationalist elites, because they shared a leftist political
philosophy. Similarly, conservative party members were usually on the
unionists side of the political spectrum. Within the Irish republic, Fianna Fail
and Fine Gael are the primary political parties. The former has definite roots
in the republican movement and leaders from this party have had more
legitimacy in the eyes of republicans in the north (McKittrick and McVea,
The political set up of Northern Ireland from the 1920s until March of
1972 was a one-party majority rule. For the duration, Protestants were in the
majority. The British government gave them the authority to design the voting
system. They created districts, which insured that unionists would have
overwhelming control of the government. Catholics resented the Ulster
government and generally abstained from the political process, knowing it
was futile and humiliating to participate (McKittrick and McVea 2002, 22-24).
Unionist political control was located in the official government building called
As the Troubles increased, the unionist Terence ONeill was elected as
the Stormont Prime Minister In 1963. Demands for reform were becoming
more forceful from the Catholic community, but ONeill failed to implement
policy changes. While he recognized the need for compromise, he could not
convince his party. Therefore, it was business as usual at Stormont as the
antiquated system was failing to deal with the rapidly changing reality. As
McKittrick and McVea point out, ...what ONeill presented as reforms did little
to better the lot of the nationalists...Catholic politicians complained that while
the unionist rhetoric was new, the effect was the old discrimination under a
new name (2002, 39).
In August of 1968, the first civil rights march was held in Northern
Ireland. It was a direct response to the unfair housing allocation of the
unionist government (McKittrick and McVea 2002, 40-41). The movement
quickly gained popularity. Because the values of the movement were so
inclusive (tolerance, human rights and equality), the movement was
comprised of almost all types of people, except Protestant-loyalists. In
October of 1968, a march was held in the city of Derry; many prominent
nationalist politicians joined the rally. The response of the Stormont
government was to send in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), which was
the predominantly Protestant-loyalist police force. The clash between the two
groups was televised. Many demonstrators were beaten by the RUC,
including some of the nationalist politicians who were present. This incident
marked the beginning of international concern for the political situation in
Northern Ireland (McKittrick and McVea 2002, 41). From this point on, the
conflict was not merely a domestic struggle for national affiliation.
Nationalists and loyalists also engaged in a publicity battle, each side trying to
gain international support.
The Catholics saw the civil rights movement as a vehicle for their
resistance and empowerment. The IRA was fueled by years of oppression
and ready to fight for freedom. It was a time when norms of equality, human
rights, and tolerance were battling the status quo. Catholics naturally
embraced the ideas. Deep-rooted Catholic struggles for fair housing policies,
an impartial police force, and freedom from intimidation and discrimination fit
into the civil rights agenda.
The unionists perceived the civil rights movement as a threat to their
identity and their privileged position in society. To them, this was a
conspiracy aimed at destroying what they believed was a legitimate political
establishment. Unionist S. S. Herron wrote in 19714, The present phase of
the struggle is a worldwide denigration of Stormont, Westminster, and the
forces of law and order, allied to a carefully engineered propaganda war
alleging Protestant suppression of the Catholic minority (Herron, The Great
Conspiracy...). The behavior and tactics, of the ... civil rights movement,
soon clarified the matter... this was really just the Republican movement in
another guise, asserted David Trimble (Tonge 2002, 44).
4 It is estimated that this was written in 1971, no date is on the book. This book is currently out of
print. Excerpts are published on the cited website.
In 1972 more people died due to Troubles related violence than any
other year. A critical event that occurred in 1972 was Bloody Sunday. The
incident began as a civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland and ended
with thirteen dead and thirteen injured, all civilians, all shot by British soldiers.
For years the British attempted to whitewash the incident (McKittrick and
McVea 202, 77). The lasting significance of Bloody Sunday was,
...hardened attitudes, increased paramilitary recruitment...more violence and
convulsed Anglo-Irish relations (McKittrick and McVea 2002, 77).
After consecutive years of protests and conflict, the British authorities
realized that the Stormont government was no longer capable of controlling or
governing the new reality. In a report on the legal processes in place to
handle the political violence in Northern Ireland, the British government
From the outset we have treated our task as urgent. What we
have learnt in the course of it about the conditions under which
the ordinary criminal courts in Northern Ireland have to carry out
their functions, and about the developments in the pattern of
violence which have taken place even since we were appointed,
has only served to increase our sense of urgency (Secretary of
State for Northern Ireland, 1972).
The British government was forced to act. This happened in March of
1972. The British Prime Minister, Edward Heath implemented direct rule by
Westminster. Four-hundred and ninety-seven people were killed because of
the Troubles that year (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 327) and there were 10,631
shootings (Northern Ireland Police Service 2007).
TROUBLES RELATED SHOOTING INCIDENTS 1971-1985
Figure 3.1 (Northern Ireland Police Service 2007)
TROUBLES RELATED SHOOTING INCIDENTS 1986-2007
# ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
Figure 3.2 (Northern Ireland Police Service 2007)
The beginning years of the Troubles, 1971-1976, were the most violent
consecutive years. The casualties were 180, 497, 263, 304, 267, and 307
respectively (Sutton, An Index of Deaths...Chronological List...) and the
shooting incidents ranged between 1,081 and 10,631 (Northern Ireland Police
Service 2007). Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, Troubles related
violence fluctuated slightly. There were several years when the death toll was
in the hundreds; the fewest deaths were in 1985 when fifty-seven people
were killed (Ibid.). During this time, shooting incidents exceeded one
thousand only once; 1,142 shootings were recorded in 1981 (Northern Ireland
Police Service 2007). The fewest shootings during this period were in 1985
when 238 were recorded (Ibid.).
Figure 3.3 (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 327)
TROUBLES RELATED DEATHS 1988-2008
Figure 3.4 (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 327)
While paramilitaries fought over the national status of the region, the
political elites were behind the scenes trying to forge a political solution. Most
of this was done behind closed doors and often during third party
correspondence or secretive meetings. For instance, Sinn Fein was
considered to be too closely linked to the IRA and not a legitimate group to
negotiate with. Therefore, they often negotiated through members of the
church who would in turn try to find middle ground with the SDLP, the Irish
and the British governments. In his autobiography, Gerry Adams remembers,
It was Father Teid who suggested that we meet with Cardinal 6
Fiaich on the prison issue, and myself, Father Des, Danny
Morrison and Kevin Hannaway traveled regularly to Ana Coeili,
the Primates residence in Armagh, to discuss the situation.
The Cardinal informed the British Secretary of State, Humphrey
Atkins, of these meetings and tried to mediate a resolution of
the prison protest (Adams 2003, 11).
These meetings continued into the 1990s without public knowledge. It was
not until 1993 that the public knew Hume and Adams had maintained
diplomatic ties. As McKittrick and McVea report,
[In] 1993 the lid was lifted on at least part of the process when,
entirely by accident, Gerry Adams was spotted entering John
Humes home in Londonderry....On the surface Hume appeared
to have breached the general rule that mainstream politicians
should not speak to those associated with violence. Yet
although few knew it at the time, the Hume-Adams channel was
just the tip of the iceberg...It was not just Hume who had been
in touch with the republicans but also the Catholic Church, the
Irish government and above all, the British government.
(McKittrick and McVea 2002, 185)
AGREEMENTS AND POLITICAL CHANGE
The first peace accord was a joint declaration of the British and Irish
governments; it was called the Anglo-Irish Agreement and was signed by both
governments in November of 1985. It created a limited role for the Irish
government in Northern Ireland, while keeping the region within the British
Commonwealth. This agreement was unpopular with the unionists and the
nationalists. Neither side felt it supported their position, while both sides
thought it conceded too much to the opponent. Ultimately it did not last.
When negotiating the Anglo-Irish agreement Irish and British heads of
state had different motives than their counterparts did during the Good Friday
Agreement. For instance, Margaret Thatcher was ultimately concerned with
security. She saw the Troubles as a terrorist issue, stating The biggest
concentration of terrorists anywhere in the world save Lebanon was to be
found in Ireland. The border was virtually open so far as terrorists were
concerned (Thatcher 1993). Thatchers focus on security over equality,
human rights and cooperation paralleled the emerging dichotomy in the
region between the old, failing norms and the new, emerging European
Garret FitzGerald was the Irish Taoiseach at the time of this
agreement. Like Thatcher, his motives were not inspired by Europe. He was
primarily concerned with controlling the growth of the IRA and Sinn Fein both
in the Republic of Ireland and in the north (Morton, Anglo-Irish
Agreement...). FitzGeralds nightmare was that Sinn Fein might actually
overtake John Humes SDLP as the principle voice of nationalism in the
north (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 159). Part of this fear, which was also
reflected by some members of the British government, was Sinn Feins leftist
position (Ibid). The context FitzGerald was negotiating in was in part
characterized by the Cold War. Again there was a growing dichotomy
between FitzGeralds primary concern for security and the emerging
The decade that followed was filled with violence, negotiations, and
change. While the political elite were gaining ground on the political front,
violence was still rampant. The IRA was targeting financial districts in London
with bombs. This resulted in casualties and unprecedented financial cost to
the British government. The first bomb of this kind, set off in the center of
London, cost over Â£700 million pounds. Eighty-eight people were killed as a
result of the Troubles in 1993. In October 1993 alone, 28 people died due to
political violence. There had not been a deadlier month since 1976 (Sutton,
An Index...) (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 202, 191).
Amid the violence, progress had been made between the SDLP and
Sinn Fein. John Hume worked diligently with Gerry Adams to develop a joint
position on the republican agenda. In April, they released a joint statement
saying, We both recognize that such a new agreement is only achievable
and viable if it can earn and enjoy the allegiance of the different traditions on
this island, by accommodating diversity and providing for national
reconciliation (McKittrick and McVea 2002, 285).
By December of 1993, based on a draft written by John Hume, the
Downing Street Declaration was signed by the British Prime Minister and the
Irish Taoiseach.5 This document was vague. Its main purpose was to tie
together the concepts of popular consent for a united Ireland and self-
determination. The former was the unionists demand; they clearly held a
majority in Northern Ireland and they believed that the majority should rule.
Self-determination was a nationalist concept that was ingrained in the history
of republican struggle for Irish unification and sovereignty. While the
document failed to accommodate either of the extreme positions, it was able
to draw support from the moderate portions of each community. Sinn Fein
asked for clarification of the declaration; however they did not reject it.
In August of 1994 the IRA declared a ceasefire. While this did not
mean the Troubles were over, it was a major step and gave credibility to Sinn
Fein. Shortly after the announcement, Gerry Adams was invited to meet
Taoiseach Renyolds. The unionists joined the ceasefire in October of 1994.
It is reported that while the ceasefire was perceived by the general public as a
great success, it created unrest among the political elite, especially in the
unionist community (McKittrick & McVea 2002, 202).
Although the issue of ceasefire brought many complications,
including the issue of decommissioning, it was followed by a year with the
fewest deaths since before the Troubles began. In 1995, nine people died
5 In Ireland, Taoiseach is equivalent to the Prime Minster.
due to political violence (Sutton, An Index of Deaths...Chronological List...).
Yet violence increased in the years that followed. The IRA lost confidence in
the negotiations; they did not trust the current British and Irish leaders. In
1996 the ceasefire ended and the IRA again aimed at British targets outside
of Northern Ireland. There were 18 Troubles-related deaths that year (Ibid). A
year later, with a new British government in place, another ceasefire was
established. After six weeks of republican ceasefire, Sinn Fein was admitted
into formal peace negotiations.
While negotiations continued and the parties edged closer to signing
the Good Friday Agreement, violence continued. Fifty-five people were killed
in 1998 (Ibid). The Agreement was signed in April of 1998, despite extreme
factions from each community adamantly renouncing it. The Good Friday
Agreement would prove to be a lasting document, despite continued violence
and many suspensions of the power-sharing government it created.
Addressing the republican desire for self-determination while
maintaining that only the people of Northern Ireland could decide whether the
region remained part of the United Kingdom or joined the Irish Republic, was
an innovative and important part of the Good Friday Agreement. This
combined the loyalist fixation with majority rule (which had always been to
their benefit) with the recognition that the republicans desire for a united
Ireland was a legitimate aspiration. The Good Friday Agreement also called
for a revision of the Irish Constitution, Articles Two and Three, which had still
claimed Northern Ireland as part of the Republic. Furthermore a Northern
Ireland Assembly was created to govern issues related to sectors such as
education, health, agriculture. The Assembly was set up to work with a
North/South Ministerial Council, a British-lrish Council, and a British-lrish
Intergovernmental Conference, which were also created by the Good Friday
Agreement (McKittrick and McVea 220-221).
Over the next few years, extremists on each side continued to set off
bombs and take lives. Also during this time, the Northern Ireland Assembly
was only a moderate success. It was suspended four times, including its
latest suspension from 2002-2007. However, it is currently a functioning,
devolved institution. The DUP and Sinn Fein hold the top positions in the
Violent incidents from 2003-2006 were a fraction of what they had
been in previous years. Deaths were 10, 2, 5, 3, respectively, during these
years. There is a feeling that the Troubles have passed, even if neither side
has won. The political conflict still exists; nationalists and loyalists continue
to believe in what they see as the appropriate political reality for the island.
Nevertheless, it would be difficult to argue that there is not currently peace in
Northern Ireland. In 2005, the PIRA decommissioned their weapons and
called an end to all paramilitary activity (Independent Monitoring Commission
2008, 9). The Independent Monitoring Commission is an agency used by the
Irish and British governments to access the political status of Northern
Ireland. In their 2008 report, referring to the 2005 PIRA development,
In the almost two years since then we have noted further
changes. Events which we considered significant included the
decision of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on 28 January 2007 to
support policing and the criminal justice system; the
commitment in PIRAs 2007 Easter statement to following purely
peaceful and democratic means; Sinn Feins entry into the
Northern Ireland Executive in May 2007; and the number of
people making the transition from PIRA to Sinn Fein and
thereby to engagement in democratic politics. (Independent
Monitoring Commission 2008, 9).
The process of reconciliation has been complicated, involving various
actors, interests, and constraints. As I have discussed in this chapter,
violence has rapidly decreased and the Good Friday Agreement is a success
Flas European integration been a significant factor? Definitely, as stated by
the CAIN Web Service,6 ... frequent contact through the European Union at
official and political level, has been a key factor in the Downing Street
Declaration, the Joint Framework Document and the Northern Ireland peace
6 The CAIN Web Service is a collection of information about the Troubles compiled by the University
process of the 1990s (Morton, The Anglo-Irish Agreement...). The
following two chapters will use the constructivist/SIT theoretical framework to
help support this position.
I have explained the political change that occurred in Northern Ireland
now it is important to look at the wider regional process of integration that
simultaneously happened in Europe and how the two relate. This chapter
briefly summarizes the evolution of integration since the end of the second
World War and then specifically looks at European integration in terms of
identity and norms at the elite level of Northern Irish society. I will use the
theoretical framework to explain how this has related to political change in the
In discussing the way the Europeanization has created an enabling
impact I will show that a sense of European identity has developed among
key elites and norms pursued by these actors have been legitimated by
Europeanization thus restraining the behavior of non-European identifying
elites. John Hume is the key European norm entrepreneur, accompanied by
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams. Unionists, David Trimble and
Ian Paisley became bound by the new context that surrounded them.
Therefore while their identities did not embrace Europe, their actions were
directed by the logic of appropriateness that the new context dictated.
The project of integration in Europe has evolved since the undertaking
was initiated as an economic cooperation in order to eliminate political conflict
between European states. When Churchill initially called for a United States
of Europe (Dinan 2005, 14), the political elite in Europe saw the union as a
way to insure peace and cure ailing European economies. In 1952, the
European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established. This tied the
French and German coal and steel manufacturing capabilities together.
Combining these into one market was seen as a way of ending the cycle of
violence between the states since these were the material industries
necessary for war.
Northern Ireland became part of the European Community (EC) in
1973 when Britain, Ireland, and Denmark joined, marking the first EC
expansion. Before the 1973 expansion there were six original member
states. During the years after the UK gained membership, the EC
experienced economic hardship and institutional stagnation. Since then,
Europeanization has prospered and there are currently twenty-seven member
Since the ECSC was established, Europe has evolved both as an
intergovernmental institution and as a supranational entity. The result has
been a wide range of institutions and policies, including courts, lawmaking
bodies, and a common currency. The developments of specific interest to
this paper are the free movement of European citizens and the emerging
European identity. First, I will look at European identity, where it exists and,
equally important, where it does not exist. I will postulate that European
identity exists at the level of the political elite in Northern Ireland and is
consequential. Then I will discuss the prevalence of European migration and
how it has changed the way communities in Northern Ireland relate to each
Identity is an elusive term. Mayer and Palmowski state that identity is
a distinctiveness of an object or a person, a specificity which marks out, but
is not necessarily unique to, an object or a person...it is as much about
differentiation and individually as it is about commonality (Mayer and
Palmowski 2004, 576-577). While all citizens of the EU are legally
European, not all choose to embrace the identity. According to the Life and
Times survey in 2002 there are many factors that attribute to the differing
attitudes toward being European in Northern Ireland including age,
community affiliation (loyalist/nationalist), occupation, and education level.
The survey found that only 8% of respondents always identified as European,
while 23% sometimes identified as European (OConnor and McGowan
It is not within the scope of this paper to determine why there is a
significant difference in European identification in Northern Ireland, although
that would be an interesting topic for further research. What matters here is
that it is unclear to what extent European identity is a prevailing, salient
identity among the masses. However, I will argue that it is significant in
Northern Ireland among the most prominent political elite and the emergence
of European identity at the elite level has been a critical factor in ending the
Structurally, European identity is institutionalized as EU citizenship and
the rights and expectations that correspond with the citizenship privilege.
The Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) established
European citizenship. The rights given to European citizens include free
movement within the EU, voting rights in local and European elections,
freedom from discrimination based on nationality, and equal treatment for
men and women, as well as the fundamental rights of liberty, democracy, and
human rights (Pinder 2001, 58). While every citizen of Northern Ireland
qualifies for these rights, this hardly describes the realties that many have
experienced, even throughout the 1990s. Yet the citizen framework is a
reference point that the political elite have used to legitimize their push for
reconciliation (Diez et. al. 2004, 17). It outlines the norms that have been
pursued since the post WWII era.
While European identity may not yet be salient among the masses in
Northern Ireland, European norms have been institutionalized in the region
over the last thirty years. This has been a result of the integrative efforts of
European institutions, such as the European Commission, as well as the work
of the political elite within Northern Ireland. It is also important to remember
that the social unrest and violence that ignited during the civil rights
movement was critical in providing a window of opportunity for these norms to
Since European identity exists as one of many identities, it is important
to determine when and for whom it is the salient identity, and when and for
whom it is not. Identity salience is in part determined by categorization and
self enhancement, and in part by context. The identity that allows for the
maximum self-enhancement within a given context will achieve salience
(Hogg et al. 1995, 262).
I argue that the most favorable context for European identity is within
the EU institutions themselves. The best example of this is one of the most
pro-Europe personalities in Northern Ireland, John Hume. He was the head
of the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP) from 1979-2001 and has been
called, the most significant political figure in Northern Ireland in the last
twenty-five years (Cunningham 1997, 13). In 1998, John Hume was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort in the Northern Irish peace
process. When accepting his award Hume said,
In my own work for peace, I was very strongly inspired by my
European experience. I always tell this story, and I do so because it is
so simple yet so profound and so applicable to conflict resolution
anywhere in the world. On my first visit to Strasbourg in 1979 as a
member of the European Parliament. I went for a walk across the
bridge from Strasbourg to Kehl. Strasbourg is in France. Kehl is in
Germany. They are very close. I stopped in the middle of the bridge
and I meditated. There is Germany. There is France. If I had stood on
this bridge 30 years ago after the end of the second world war when 25
million people lay dead across our continent for the second time in this
century and if I had said: "Dont worry. In 30 years time we will all be
together in a new Europe, our conflicts and wars will be ended and we
will be working together in our common interests", I would have been
sent to a psychiatrist. But it has happened and it is now clear that
European Union is the best example in the history of the world of
conflict resolution and it is the duty of everyone, particularly those who
live in areas of conflict to study how it was done and to apply its
principles to their own conflict resolution. (Hume, Nobel Lecture, Oslo,
Hume is well known as a pro-European political figure. His
experiences as a European MP gave him exposure to European ideals as
well as gave him an opportunity to further internationalize the Troubles and
add a European dimension to the conflict. Hume served as a European MP
from 1979 until 2002. At the end of his MP career he made a speech to
commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the draft treaty establishing the
European Union. Hume stated,
I want to express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues in this
Parliament, and of course to the Commission and the Council, for the
outstanding support that they gave to peace in Northern Ireland. The
special programme for peace and reconciliation and the International
Fund for Ireland have done outstanding work in giving great hope to
our young people... I also owe a lot to this Parliament and to
Strasbourg in terms of my own thinking (Tribute to Jean Monnet 2004).
In the same speech, Hume spoke of what he identified as the three European
principles that can be applied to any conflict. These were respect for
difference, importance of institutions that respect difference, and what he calls
the healing process, referring to the process of, eroding the divisions of
In a study detailing the different ways that political leaders frame their
issues and thus attract or deter international support, Andrea Grove shows
that it was the actions of Hume that led to European (and the US) interest in
the Northern Irish conflict (Grove 2001, 23). When looking at the way Hume
frames the Troubles between 1982 and 1996, Grove quantifies the increased
emphasis that Hume places on European identity (Grove 2001, 28).
Hume has facilitated the European dimension in Northern Ireland by
internalizing it as part of his own identity and acting accordingly. Likewise,
the salience of his European identity partially constitutes others identities.
Through interaction with other political elite, such as Jerry Adams, and
through direct action, Hume has become a norm entrepreneur. His actions
have, in part, built the ideological structure within which all others act. The
optimistic position, privileging equality, human rights, and tolerance that
Hume maintains have dominated the peace process. In an article titled John
Hume: Architect of a New Nation, David McKittrick writes, Hume received his
electoral award for this from voters, who clearly regard him as the architect of
the peace process... (1998). This has been partly because of his effective
agency and partly because his agenda has coincided with the structural
changes of the region.
Beginning with the critical Civil Rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland,
on 5 October 1968, Hume has participated in demonstrations, rallies, and
campaigns aimed at spreading the norms he believes in. As part of the
SDLP, Hume has helped his party lead the political process out of violence
and into peaceful reconciliation. The mission statement for the SDLP reads
The SDLPs vision is a reconciled people living in a united, just
and prosperous new Ireland.
As the party of civil rights, the SDLP is working for an Ireland
free from poverty, prejudice and injustice; a vibrant country of energy,
enterprise and endeavor, where economic prosperity delivers better
public services and greater opportunities for all.
The SDLP wants to build an Ireland where conflict, violence and
sectarianism become footnotes to our past; where reconciliation,
equality and inclusion are chapter headings in the new story we will
write together. We will build a better Ireland where we truly cherish all
the children of the nation equally.
The SDLP wants this generation and those that will follow to live
in an Ireland that stands tall in the world as a champion of global
justice, environmental protection & sustainable development; an
Ireland that stands out as a beacon of hope for peace, democracy,
human rights and respect for diversity (Our Vision Statement 2007).
The language of this declaration reiterates the goals of Europe. The
Amsterdam Treaty, which was enacted by the EU on 1 May 1999, states that
the cornerstone of Europe is the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law... (Pinder 2001,
58). As the leader of his party for 21 years, Hume was the prototype for the
SDLP. As the head of this moderate, nationalist party, he consistently fought
for the ideals that are outlined in this statement.
Other policy statements made by the SDLP show Humes commitment
and the commitment of the SDLP to the EU. For instance the SDLP boasts,
As a result of the activity of the SDLP in Europe, John Hume has secured
significant peace funding for Northern Ireland and the border region and that,
The SDLP is strongly committed to full participation in the European Union...
The SDLP in Europe works to influence external policies at EU level to build
global solidarity and a world where wealth is fairly distributed and rights
respected (Policy Summaries: Europe & International Affairs 2007).
Humes self-categorization as European sharply contrasts with others,
such as Ian Paisley, who take a less European perspective. When running
for European Parliament in 1999, Hume said in reference to Ian Paisley and
the DUP, "The question for them at this election is are they still against the
European Union and if they are, why are they standing in the election
Just as Humes European identity is most salient within the context of
European institutions, so is Ian Paisleys non-European identity. Hume
consistently advocated for integration because he believed in the norms and
ideals that were European. He related to the reconciliation between Germany
and France and believed Europe could do the same for Northern Ireland.
Paisley was on the opposite side of the spectrum; he was a Euroskeptic.
When running for European Parliament in 1999, Paisley said, The DUP is
opposed to the creation of the European superstate (Pauley 1999, 11).
Where Hume insists that, As far as I am concerned the European
election is about European issues (A News Letter Special... 1999), Paisley
has continued to ignore Europe when running for European Parliament. In
1999 he ran his campaign as a referendum on the 1994 Downing Street
Declaration. In a campaign speech he stated, "It is now abundantly clear that
the only votes that will be counted as being against the declaration sell out
are the votes of the DUP (Moriarty 1994, 11). Again in 1999 he ignored any
European dimension. The Belfast News Letter reported that, Democratic
Unionist Party leader and sitting Euro MP the Rev Ian Paisley is unabashedly
urging voters to use this European election to register their disenchantment
with the Good Friday Agreement. In the same article, Paisley was quoted
saying, "I have no qualms about using the election as a second referendum
on the Agreement" (A News Letter Special... 1999).
European identity fails to be salient in Paisley while Protestant and
Ulster identities are firmly prominent. These are regional and religious
aspects, for him traditional unionism had a sanctified and religious identity
(Bell 1976, 43). Early in his political carrier Paisley stated,
We pledge ourselves to expose the forces of evil men and leaders who
are the enemies of Ulster and true Protestantism. We will not shun the
biblical command to be faithful and we will seek by Gods help to
reveal the hidden things of darkness, so that in the power of God the
strongholds of Satan may be pulled down and a faithful testimony of
God raised in our land (Bell 1976, p42).
This statement is much like others that Paisley has made. The instances of
categorization and self enhancement are clear in his case. His group is
faithful, loyal and God-fearing, while the all others (often including other
unionists) are communists, pagans, and anti-God.
Paisley rose to political prominence with the help of these stereotypes
because he appealed to the unionist community that was Calvinist and
working class. He is the prototype of the evangelistical, British-supporting,
Ulsterman. It has been this positive perception of his in-group and negative
perception of all out-groups that has motivated Paisleys actions through the
years. He was affiliated with unionist paramilitaries, consistently anti-
negotiations, and radically against any Irish involvement in Northern Ireland.
He is the fundamentalist-unionist.
Even with such a salient identity, there have been signs of change.
Due to the success of the reconciliation efforts, Paisley finds himself forced to
participate in the political arena alongside nationalists. Due to the existence
of the European Union, Paisley found himself working within a European
institutional framework. While he denounced European integration, he could
not afford to ignore the opportunities for political power offered by the
He is famous as The Never Man or Dr. No yet in the spring of 2007,
Paisley entered into the new Northern Irish Assembly with members of Sinn
Fein. By 2005 his views on Europeanization had changed slightly, when he
supported the proposed expansion of the EU to include Romania and
Bulgaria. Paisley commented, I believe strongly in the widening of Europe.
I'm not so sure about the deepening of Europe. (Morgan 2005).
Context has altered Paisleys identity and thus the way it prescribes his
actions, just as the sectarian context of his childhood, when the IRA burned
down his fathers home, informed his fundamentalist views. With
regionalization as the structural reality and the norms of tolerance, human
rights, and equality prevailing within the region, Paisleys interests are partly
constituted by the context. While this change is slow and slight, it is not a one
way street. As he put it, he had to take a step... to sell myself...for my
country...swallow my spittal (Nolan 2007). Paisley is simultaneously altering
the structure of Northern Ireland by making this gradual transformation. He
can not stand by his never ideals and maintain the self-enhancement that is
required for identity salience. If he had, and the peace process broke down
again, he would have been held accountable. The British and Irish
governments told him that plan B was their joint rule over the region. This,
of all things, would have been contrary to what Paisley believed in. His
perceived costs were too great, there was a reason to see himself in novel
terms (Wendt 1992, 419), and based on the need for self enhancement, his
choice was imminent: share power with nationalists.
Gerry Adams is one of the most (in)famous republican figures in
Northern Ireland. Like Paisley, his identity has been most salient in terms of
his commitment to his nation and his religion. As a republican activist, Adams
spent time in prison on multiple occasions. As a politician, he was first
elected as a Sinn Fein representative in October of 1982. In his public
carrier, he has been shot by loyalist paramilitaries, conducted secrete
meetings with all sides of the conflict, and was idealized by the nationalist
community. Adams has always seen an international aspect to the peace
process; however, he has focused on the nationalist communitys relationship
with Irish-Americans. He has continued to use this as a method of gaining
ground for the nationalist agenda as well as the peace process.
In fact, Adams rarely reflects on the meaning of Europe and how it
relates to his identity. He is committed to the goals of Irish unification and
self-determination. This has left little time for European politics. Furthermore,
his experience with the British occupation of Northern Ireland has left him
naturally protective of Irish sovereignty. For instance, in an interview
regarding the Nice Referendum,7 the Irish Times reported, The changes in
the rules proposed by Nice would disadvantage smaller member states,
particularly because of the loss of the veto in 30 areas: All of this will
seriously undermine the strength of our voice in the EU. We could quite
easily be absorbed by bigger member states and could find ourselves being
pulled away by the tail, [Gerry Adams] told journalists (Hennessy 2002, 8).
7 This referendum was held in of October of 2002 to establish popular support for the Treaty of Nice.
The most essential elements of this treaty focused on preparing the EU for greater expansion.
In another interview, Adams expressed his suspicion of Europe as an
emerging power, It may not be true of people in the S Camp(ph) in Ireland [in
other words, the Republic of Ireland], but certainly the sense that others within
the European Union, the more powerful states, want the European Union to
be a world power, nigh. We're against empires. We're against world powers
I can not argue that Adams considers himself significantly European.
The evidence does not exist. Possibly, given the opportunity to interview him
personally, I would find a degree of European identification. However, when
looking through the available sources, including his autobiography, there is no
sign that he sees himself as European. His republican identity is too salient in
all contexts. He is well known throughout the world as the most adamant and
dedicated republican spokesman. He has had empathetic relationships with
individuals in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa and with the
Palestinians fighting for recognition in the Middle East. He has shaken hands
with President Clinton and is a hero among Irish-Americans. The process of
categorization and self-enhancement for Adams does not cause him to
question his Irishness; it reinforces it.
What is interesting in terms of European identity and Gerry Adams is
that the ideals that Adams cherishes are the same ideals the EU promotes.
When discussing the meaning of Irishness, Adams wrote, We needed to
reach out to the unionists and explain what sort of Ireland we envisioned -
one that is inclusive, built on equality and justice and human rights (Adams
2003, 124). Like the SDLPs vision, his statement parallels the rights outlined
by the Amsterdam Treaty, The treaty affirmed that the Union is founded in
the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms, and the rule of law... (Pinder 2001, 58). Even though he does not
emphasize the supranational identity, he fits nicely into the European ideal.
Since the European norms fit well with Adams republican ideals, there is no
reason for him to reconsider himself in novel terms.
Furthermore, the close relationship Adams maintained thorough out
the years with John Hume exposed him to the potential of Europe and
European ideals. Adams wrote, I came to know John well. At his best he
has an instinctive affinity for people, a generous down-to-earth common
touch...While he looked to his party interests as well as any party leader
would, he also looked at the bigger picture (Adams 2003, 80). He even has
called their political relationship the Hume-Adams axis (Adams 2003, 170).
75This certainly indicates that he identifies with Hume, who is the most
European of the relevant political elite. While Adams may be skeptical of the
European project, he none the less endorses Hume who clearly represents
The next elite actor I will look at is David Trimble. In 1995, David
Trimble was elected the party leader for the UUP. He had already served as
a representative in the British parliament for five years prior to becoming the
UUP leader. He distinguishes himself as an Ulster Man, as most loyalists
do. Trimble takes pride in the heritage of unionism and in reference to one of
the oldest loyalist institutions, called the Orange Order, Trimble said, I am
proud to be a member (Publications and Records 1990).
The Orange Order was established at the end of the 1900s in reaction
to the activity of the United Irishmen.8 Modern day Orange Men are known
for their marches, which occur every July. The demonstrations are a display
8 The United Irishmen originated in the late 1700s; they fought against the British oppression of
Catholics. The United Irishmen was actually founded by Presbyterians. The original founder, Wolfe
Tone, and his associates were influenced by the French Revolution and the writings of Thomas Paine.
They worked on behalf of Catholics and believed in individual liberties. The IRA and all republican
movements have routs in the United Irishmen.
of unionism and have routes through Catholic/nationalist neighborhoods.
Since the marches are perceived by nationalists as militant expressions of
unionist dominance (thus Catholic oppression), they have been the source of
much conflict and violence.
As the leader of the UUP, Trimble has been fundamentally involved in
the peace process since the 1990s. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1998, together with John Hume. It is interesting to compare their
acceptance speeches. While Hume credits his European experiences,
Trimble does not even mention Europe. Hume expresses his admiration for
the European project and the European institutions that have formalized
regional peace. Trimble, instead, focuses on conservative realism,
Some critics complain that I lack "the vision thing". But vision in its pure
meaning is clear sight. That does not mean I have no dreams. I do. But
I try to have them at night. By day I am satisfied if I can see the furthest
limit of what is possible... .The work we do may be grubby and without
glamour. But it has one saving grace. It is grounded on reality and
reason (Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1998).
Trimbles conservative ideals have remained fairly consistent through
the years of the Troubles. He is committed to the rule of law, security, and
free trade. In 1990s, he advocated for the reinstatement of internment to
ensure domestic stability (The Independent 11/11/1990). While he does
comment on equality and justice, he seems to consider them unrealistic
ideals. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Price he quoted Amos
Oz9 who said "Inconsistency is the basis of coexistence. The heroes of
tragedy, driven by consistency and by righteousness, destroy each other. He
who seeks total supreme justice seeks death" (Ibid.).
Trimble is not as explicit as Paisley in his self/other categorizations;
however he does make categorizations in more indirect ways. For instance
Trimble used the Noble Peace Prize acceptance speech as an opportunity to
remind the world of the Protestant reality in Northern Ireland. He remarked,
the Ulster British people are coming out of the experience of 25 years of
armed struggle directed against them... (Ibid.).
Again, when talking about the decommissioning issue, Trimble said,
Any further delay will reinforce dark doubts about whether Sinn Fein are
drinking from the clear stream of democracy, or still drinking from the dark
stream of fascism... (Ibid.). His language implies that Sinn Fein is a fascist
organization. While this is a less obvious self enhancement tactic than
Paisley uses, Trimble is certainly demonizing the other to make his group
appear more favorable. While Hume used this opportunity as a time to praise
9 Amos Oz was an influential Israeli writer who advocates the two-state solution to that conflict.
the benefits of cooperation and equality, Trimble was perpetuating the Us vs.
Them mentality. He portrayed the unionist community as the victims, which
automatically positions the nationalist community as (the only) perpetrator.
While Hume has asserted his agency over the last thirty years to
successfully create political change, Trimbles attitude has been more
passive. As a realist, Trimble believes that interests are exogenously formed
based on structure alone and that actions are only responses to the given
reality. In his acceptance speech, Trimble quoted Edmond Burke, who he
called the most powerful and prophetic political intellect of that century.
According to Trimble, Burke said, "Circumstances give in reality to every
political principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The
circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or
noxious to mankind" (Trimble 1998).
Trimble identifies as a unionist, a rationalist, and a realist; yet his
actions do not seem consistent with his proclaimed identity. He has acted to
cooperate and work with the republicans in the form of peace accords and
ultimately power sharing. I argue that constructive factors, specifically norm
change related to regional integration are key to understanding his actions.
Trimble has been working within the structure of Europe. Although he would
prefer a less integrative, looser relationship with Europe, Trimble recognizes
the current integrated regional structure. He commented, I voted to be part
of the European Economic Community. I thought the British economy would
benefit from being part of the common market. But things have changed.
Community has become Union. The nature of that union has become ever
clearer (Trimble 2007). Apparently, Trimble would prefer a different
structural makeup of the region, yet he understands the European structural
context that constrains his choices.
Heads Of State
The final two elite actors who have been critical to the stability of
Northern Ireland are Bertie Ahern, the Irish Teoiseach and Tony Blair, the
British Prime Minister. Throughout the history of the Troubles the different
personalities of the people holding these positions have influenced the
progression and regression of the peace process. Actions of the Irish and
British elite have mattered in determining the political reality of Northern
Ireland. Ultimately, the combination of Ahern and Blair contributed to the
lasting peace that exists today.
These two leaders have been important actors within the European
context. For instance, one description of Tony Blair stated, As much as he is
a British leader, so too is he emerging as a major European leader...
(Loudon 1995). Another report said,
The official line from No10 was that our Tony is a man of
vision who stands astride all Europe like a golden
Colossus. A man whose charm, wit and sound political
thinking have placed the charismatic Prime Minister at
the absolute epicentre of the European debate. Mr Blair
has won the hearts, the minds and the deep-felt love of
the entire continent (Tony Blair is a Genius 1999).
While being seen as a leader in Europe, Blair has implemented the European
agenda in Britain and is considerably more pro-Europe than many past UK
According to the Daily Mail, the year after becoming the British Labor
Party leader, Tony Blair nailed Labour's colours firmly to the mast of full-
blown European integration... He used his overseas debut to spell out the
depth of his commitment to the Euro ideal, pledging that a Labour
Government would sign up to all the main federalist articles of faith (Highes
1995). In the same article, Bair was recorded as calling himself a, reforming
pro-European who would stand up for a common European
future....Britain's future does indeed lie at the centre of Europe (Ibid.). Not
only has Blair advocated for the Euro and EU expansion, he has also
supported ideas to create a common European defense (Ibid.), which is
certainly one of the most supranational institutions the EU could create.
Furthermore, before becoming the Prime Minister, Blair wrote, We cant be
half in and half out for ever. This country should be leading in Europe and
under Labor it will (Blair 2006, 71).
In order to highlight his pro-Europe position, it is interesting to contrast
Blairs attitude toward Europe with that of his predecessor, Margaret
Thatcher. The latter made it clear that the United Kingdom was not interested
in the deepening of European integration. She was firmly against monetary
integration, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and generally all other
integrationist tendencies of the EU, except the common market (Dyson and
Miller 2007, 9). In comparison, Blair was very supportive of European
integration. Despite the mainstream opposition to the European Monetary
Union (EMU) in the UK, Blair supported the idea in principle. In 2004, he also
favored European accession of the ten new member states, and the
European Constitution (Ibid 11).
Blairs tolerant approach to Northern Ireland is also clearer by
comparing it to Thatchers policies. Her attitude towards Northern Ireland was
clearly one focused on security at any means. One example was her stance
on the first (1980) and the second (1981) hunger strikes. IRA prisoners were
demanding special status as political prisoners; ten men starved themselves
to death in the second hunger strike. Thatcher never gave in to their
demands. Her response was, Faced with the failure of their discredited
cause, the men of violence have chosen in recent months to play what might
be their last card... (McKittrick and McVea 146). Thatcher earned the
reputation as the Iron Lady partly because of this inflexible position (Ibid.,
Blair however was more willing to compromise in order to get peaceful
results. When negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, the issue of prisoner
release was critical to the republicans. Blair knew that public opinion in
Britain generally viewed these prisoners as terrorists and their early release
was not popular with the electorate (Adams 2003, 348). Yet as Jerry Adams
explains in his autobiography, I spoke with Tony Blair twice on the phone and
by 10:30 that night we had a paper on prisoners that accepted the need for an
accelerated program for release (Ibid., 341).
Generally, Blair has focused on efforts to end the violence based on
rules and order but not prejudice or discrimination (Blair, Values and the
Power of Community 8). Upon entering the position of Prime Minister, Blair
said that if participation in the peace process by Sinn Fein, [is] a genuine
search for a new way forward...then the door is open (McKittrick and McVea
2002, 216). Immediately, Blair opened talks with Sinn Fein and was the first
British Prime Minister to shake hands with a republican leader since the
1920s (Ibid., 218). Ultimately, Blair was both open to European ideas and to
tolerance and equality in Northern Ireland.
Blairs Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, is also a pro-European political
figure. Fie strongly supported Irelands entry into the EMU, stressing the
need for the Union to speak with one voice in this area (Ahern, Bertie
Statement on EU Council 1998). Fie also was a strong supporter of the
European Constitution. In 2004 he wrote, Most of all, the enlarged Union
needs a constitutional and institutional framework that fits its ambitions
(Ahern Make or Break for Europes Constitution 2004).
As a member of the Fianna Fail party, Ahern shares a political ancestry
with Sinn Fein. Eamon de Valera was the founder of Fianna Fail and also a
member of Sinn Fein during the 1920s. Since the partition of the island, the
party has become more centrist. Regardless, the party describes itself as the
republican party of Ireland (Finna Fail Home Page). The party also has
declared a pro-Europe position and they score among the most pro-Europe
parties in the republic (Laver 1998).
Ahern himself reflects this European ideal throughout his public
addresses. For instance he commented, I have often noted that the
European Union has provided a useful framework within which progress in
relation to Northern Ireland can be made (Statement on EU Council 1998).
In the same speech he espoused the principles of Europe, I think it is
appropriate to recall that the European Union is itself founded on the
principles and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration liberty,
democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule
of law (Ibid.). Ahern continued to promote these norms in a speech given
about the Good Friday Agreement, It contains recognition by both
governments and the political parties of the importance of respect,
understanding and tolerance... (Speech in the Good Friday Agreement
A detailed analysis of the European-ness of other Irish and British
political leaders would be helpful and interesting. For the purposes of this
paper, I have limited the discussion to the political elite during the Good
Friday Agreement and at the time the troubles came to an end. A similar
analysis of the Irish and British political elite throughout the troubles could
give more insight into the part Europe has played in ending the violence in
Northern Ireland. However, that is beyond the scope of this paper.
While identities have mattered throughout the process, in Northern
Ireland, structure has been fundamental. Furthermore, following Wendts
logic, these are not separate factors; they are mutually constitutive.
European identity has come from European policies, such as integration,
citizen rights, and the free movement of people. In turn, a growing European
identity has reinforced European structures in which Europeans have vested
interests. This is what has happened among the political elite in Northern
Ireland. Hume has led the game and has convinced others to play as well.
He is widely accepted as the most influential actor in the peace process. He
has helped bring the Northern Ireland context within a European structure, yet
it is also the unintended consequence of economic and political integration
that has Europeanized the region.
All actors assert their agency according to their interests, partly based
on their identity and partially based on the structural incentives and
constraints. The elite represent prototypes of their communities. Using the
words of Dietz et. al., European integration was the perturber that caused the
elite to relate to each other in a new way. It was the underlying European call
for equality, tolerance, and human rights that helped create a context where it
was unacceptable to pursue prejudice, dogma, or even security without
It is the interplay of structure in terms of integration, and agency in
terms of identity at both the elite and societal levels that have created the
enabling and constructive impacts in Northern Ireland. Equality, democracy,
and human rights have been constant ideas. John Hume, Tony Blair, and
Betrie Ahern have been norm entrepreneurs representing all three ideas;
Gerry Adams has also represented these norms. Due to perceived costs,
contextual changes, and the need for self-enhancement, David Trimble and
Ian Paisley have been powerless in resisting the norm diffusion. While they
may evaluate and prescribe according to traditional loyalist stereotypes, they
can no longer act accordingly because they must remain within the realm of
This chapter has focused on European integration and its the enabling
impact on the elite level of Northern Irish politics. Chapter Five will use the
theoretical framework to explain how integration has had a constructive
impact at the societal level, specifically because of the policy of free
movement of European citizens.
While Chapter Four looked at the elite level of Northern Ireland and
why European integration was important for political change, the societal level
is an equally interesting and important level of analysis. Just as structure and
agency interact to determine political realities, there is also an interaction
between the mass and elite levels of society both paying a part in the way
politics develops and changes. This chapter will examine what has happened
at the societal level in Northern Ireland, why have unionists and nationalists
changed the way they relate to each other and how European integration has
had a constructive impact on this process.
The relationships between groups at the societal level have shifted and
the available relationships are different; perceptions that motivate group
action within each community have changed. I argue that due to European
integration, demographic change in Northern Ireland has revised the self
other categorizations in the region. Therefore, the community relationships
are more conducive to peaceful interaction.
The integrative policy of open borders began in 1985 when France,
Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the Schengen
Agreement. The Schengen Agreement eliminated the borders between these
states and allowed for the free movement of their nationals. While debate of
the free movement of citizens had been going on in the EU prior to this treaty,
the member states could not agree on the logistics. Therefore, France,
Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands made their own
In July of 1987 the Single European Act (SEA) took effect. This treaty
aimed at eliminating all barriers to the, free trade and movement of people,
goods, services, and capital (Hurwitz, 92). The SEA was concerned with
creating a European-wide market; objectives included allowing European
workers full freedom of movement, coordinating between national
governments in respect to law enforcement, and standardizing educational
and professional degrees.
In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty further institutionalized the free
movement of people in Europe by establishing the European Union (formerly
the European Community) and creating three pillars of integration, The
European Community, Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the third
pillar, specifically related to the free movement of people, was Co-operation in
Justice and Flome Affairs (later renamed Police and Judicial Co-operation in
Criminal Matters) (Pinder, 2001, 28).
What is most interesting for this paper was an unintended
consequence of SEA and the Maastricht Treaty. These treaties were
intended as practical measures to facilitate European economic integration.
However, they have had an important, indirect constructive impact by
changing the demographics of places where the previous make up of the
population was relatively static. This is the case in Northern Ireland.
Considering how the SEA has changed the demographics, community make-
up and identities in Northern Ireland is necessary to explaining the degree to
which the EU has perturbed the conflict and thus positively correlated with the
decrease in violence.
While European norms have been critical to the implementation and
success of the lasting peace, the influx of non-Northern Irish residents has
increased the stability and helped insure that the existing communities are
unlikely to return to the violence that was typical of the 1970s through the
1990s. In terms of the free movement of citizens, I will look at the impact of
the immigration of Polish citizens, because they have been one of the largest
groups of migrants to inhabit the region. Since the dramatic increase in
Polish immigrants happened six years after the Good Friday Agreement was
implemented, my argument is not that the new migrants mattered in the
signing of the agreement, but that they mattered for the continued peace and
decrease in violence that occurred between 2004 and the present. My
interest is whether Polish migrants have altered the way the principal
communities within Northern Ireland relate to one another. I will argue that
identities have been influenced, not so much because Polish migrants have
helped disseminate European norms, but because they have been a
perturber within the Northern Irish context of self and other.
Since the 2004 expansion, migration from Eastern Europe has
exploded. In the case of Northern Ireland, there were 2,150 Polish migrants
officially registered with the Worker Registration Scheme between May 2004
and March 2005, 4,980 between April 2005 and March 2006, and 5,555
between April 2006 and May 2007 ("Long-term International Migration
Estimate Long-term International Estimates for Northern Ireland (2005-6)"
p5). In January of 2007, it was estimated that over 30,000 Polish were living
in Northern Ireland (Almost 1,000 Poles apply to PSNI 2007). In 2006, 70%
of the Northern Irish residents poled said that there was more racial prejudice
now than there was 5 years ago. In the same survey, 27% said that racial
prejudice is highest toward Polish migrants. This was the most common