Peace Building in Northern Ireland: A Role for Civil Society

Colin Knox

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Northern Ireland has witnessed significant political progress with devolution and a powersharing Executive in place since May 2007. These political achievements, however,conceal a highly polarised society characterised by sectarianism and community divisions,the legacy of a protracted conflict. This paper is located in the theoretical discoursebetween consociationalists who argue that antithetical identities cannot be integrated andadvocates of social transformation who support greater cross-community peace-buildinginitiatives through the involvement of civil society. This theoretical debate is taking placein a policy vacuum. The Northern Ireland Executive has abandoned its commitment tothe previous (direct rule) administration’s A Shared Future policy and is now consideringalternatives broadly described as community cohesion, sharing and integration. Usinga case study of a Protestant/Catholic interface community, this paper offers empiricalevidence of the effectiveness of one social transformation initiative involving communitygroups in a highly segregated area of West Belfast.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-28
    JournalSocial Policy and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2010


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