This article explores the reasons for the slow progress being made in the Northern Ireland peace process. It examines complications that exist in dealing with the past, present, and future of the conflict between the two main communities whilst also arguing that it is hard to separate these time frames in practice. In terms of the present, some well known difficulties with the consociational approach are identified. Recent studies have also demonstrated a failure to address sectarianism at the grass-roots level and there has been a resurgence in activity by spoilers and rejectionists. When thinking about the future the two communities still have competing views about the final constitutional destiny of Northern Ireland and this inhibits the development of a sense of a shared future. Although there have been a plethora of initiatives for dealing with the past and for truth recovery, there does not appear to have been a satisfactory approach to this important dimension of peacebuilding. The article concludes by advocating two key strategies. The first is the development of initiatives based on the pursuit of superordinate goals. The second endorses Rorty’s idea of sentimental education as a way of building greater solidarity.
|Journal||Peace and Conflict Studies|
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - Jul 2010|