Religion and Politics: The Case of Northern Ireland


This article looks at the role of religion in politics. Northern Ireland provides not only a good case study for this issue but also an opportunity to see how the subject has been approached in academic literature over the last forty years. It is argued here that religion can be a modern day, independent factor of considerable influence in politics. This has been important not only in Northern Ireland but also elsewhere in Western Europe in the twentieth century. This reality has been largely ignored until recently, partly because the situation in Northern Ireland has often been studied in a limited comparative context, and partly because of restrictive intellectual assumptions about the role of religion in politics.

Author Bio(s)

Brian Walker, Professor Brian Walker holds the chair of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. He is a member of the school of politics, international studies and philosophy. He was director of the research centre, The Institute of Irish Studies, at Queen’s, 1993-2001. His interests include the study of the importance of religion and also historical perceptions for conflict situations. He can be contacted at b.m.walker@qub.ac.uk.


case study, Northern Ireland, religion in politics, Western Europe

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