The Northern Ireland Peace Process and the International Context
Northern Ireland is currently enjoying a period of relative peace and stability unprecedented for much of the past half century. Such stability is the product of a variety of factors that has created conditions whereby Northern Ireland now runs its own political institutions for the first time since the early 1970s.
International relations and developments since the early 1980s have had a key influence on the Northern Ireland process, and such external influences require renewed attention in assessing the evolution of the Northern Ireland conflict and the recent progress towards long-term peace.
Since the abrupt end of the Cold War in the early 1990s in particular, the Northern Ireland dispute, along with many other inter-ethnic conflicts, has felt the repercussions of such geo-political changes, both positive and negative. In this context, many external states, forces and individuals have wielded significant influence over Northern Ireland’s development.
The world's only remaining superpower, the USA, has particularly taken a renewed interest in Northern Ireland, an interest bolstered by a President with a genuine interest in the province. Other long-term external disputes such as the Middle East conflict and South Africa’s advance from apartheid have also been inter-linked with the Northern Ireland dispute. The European Union has continued to evolve as a trans-national organisation, and has also sought to influence the easing of sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland.
This book seeks to assess the overall impact that such global developments have undoubtedly had on the Northern Ireland peace process, and attempts to offer fresh interpretations of a complex element within that process.
Ben Williams, B.A (Hons.), M.A