The United Kingdom and Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973 at a time when bitter communal conflict engulfed Northern Ireland. It appeared to be a deviant case in a modernising Europe anxious to unleash the shackles of the first half of the twentieth century. In fact the unusual conjunction of conflict within a disputed region of the British/Irish archipelago and joint membership of the European Community offered an opportunity to move beyond the excessive intimacy of an ancient quarrel through different temporal and spatial lenses. This article addresses the issue of dealing with minority grievances in an inter- and intra-state dispute by analysing the role of functional regimes and the deliverance of “peace in parts” through the changing context of statehood within Europe where sovereignty may be divisible and borders more permeable. It will conclude that the EU has made an essential contribution to the changing relations between Britain and Ireland and to conflict management within Northern Ireland.

Author Bio(s)

Paul Arthur is Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster. He has written a number of books, the latest being Special Relationships: Britain, Ireland and the Northern Ireland Problem (2000). He has been a Senior Research Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (1997–98) and a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (2007). He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Research Institute in Social Development. He has also participated in many Track Two exercises with Northern Ireland’s political parties in Europe, the US and South Africa. He has also participated in a series of problem solving workshops in Colombia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Palestine, and Macedonia. Email: pj.arthur@ulster.co.uk


Capotorti Report, European Union, Good Friday Agreement (1998 Belfast Agreement), Northern Ireland, peacebuilding

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