Reconciliation in Northern Ireland

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Since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998, Northern Ireland has grappled with the challenge of addressing its violent past while visioning and progressing a shared future, in the context of deep and persistent societal mistrust and division. While the burden of reconciliation is often placed most heavily on the direct victims and survivors of the conflict, reconciliation in Northern Ireland requires the commitment and active participation of all in the affected population, including state and non-state actors who played a part in the instigation, maintenance, and eventual transformation of the violent conflict. Reconciliation is broadly understood as the component of peacebuilding that seeks to address conflictual and fractured perceptions and relationships between individuals and groups in society (horizontal reconciliation) and citizens and state
institutions (vertical reconciliation). That said, no consensus on the specific choice or combination of actions required to progress reconciliation has been reached in the wider peacebuilding field. This ambiguity is mirrored in Northern Ireland where there is evidence of divergent understandings and application of the term across and within communities, thus ensuring that even the term
“reconciliation” is not without contention and dispute. This entry explores the concept of reconciliation in the post-accord context of Northern Ireland and identifies the significant top-down policy developments and bottom-up community approaches which have – and have not – been instigated to date.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Encyclopedia of Peace and Conflict Studies
Subtitle of host publicationLiving Edition
EditorsGezim Visoka, Oliver Richmond
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-11795-5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Sept 2020


  • reconciliation
  • Northern Ireland
  • peacebuilding
  • relationship-building
  • dealing with the past


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