Whither the ‘hand of history’: Northern Ireland newspaper coverage of the EU referendum campaign

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The visit of high profile British politicians to Northern Ireland during the EU referendum campaign, might have, if only briefly, moved the region to the centre of the debate about the UK and EU – the two larger unions of which it is a peripheral member. As it happened, coverage of these events in the indigenous press was muted, largely confined to the inside pages and soliciting little editorial comment or political response. This chapter argues that this low-key coverage was symptomatic of a feeling that Northern Ireland was marginal to the outcome of the EU referendum, despite the potential consequences of Brexit for the region and its border with the Republic of Ireland. Accentuating that sense of marginality is the EU referendum appearing as a peculiarly English dispute: the driving force behind the Brexit campaign an emergent English nationalism. Given the bitterness and divisiveness of the debate, the dispute in Northern Ireland over constitutional issues and identity no longer looks so alien and parochial. Indeed the region may have something to teach England about sovereignty and national allegiance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReporting the Road to Brexit International Media and the EU Referendum 2016
EditorsFernando Leon-Solis, Hugh O’Donnell, Anthony Ridge-Newman
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-73682-2
Publication statusPublished online - 8 May 2018


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