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Abstract

This paper explores the vital role played by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in the formulation of a new political discourse and conceptual approach to the Northern Ireland problem. In particular, it shows how John Hume, party leader through the 1980s and 1990s, helped to propagate this discourse, and in doing so influenced policy-making in London and Dublin, and thinking within the republican movement. Although the paper emphasises the importance of this influence, it concludes by considering the reasons why the Ulster unionist community have remained so unreceptive to the political discourse of Hume and the SDLP.

Author Bio(s)

Peter J. McLoughlin completed his Ph.D. at the School of Politics and International Studies, Queen‟s University Belfast. He is currently a Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin, funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Email: P.McLoughlin@ucd.ie.

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