Redefining Northern nationalism : a political perspective ; an academic perspective
Redefining Northern nationalism : a political perspective
Redefining Northern nationalism : an academic perspective
21T13:30:51Z July 2010
A political perspective: The idea of “northern” nationalism is a questionable one, since the nationalist tradition within Northern Ireland sees itself in an island-wide context. From its origins in the civil rights movement, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has grown to become the predominant voice of nationalism within Northern Ireland. In many respects, the Good Friday agreement represented the culmination of the SDLP’s efforts, representing a fair and imaginative attempt to redefine relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between the two islands. It also reflects a strong European dimension, with the European Community serving both as ally and model. There are several indications that the future for the agreement is bright, with deepening European integration, economic development and vigorous efforts to combat sectarianism playing a major role; but none of these factors can be taken for granted, and the prospect of a difficult path ahead must not be discounted.
An academic perspective: In recent years, the academic study of northern nationalism has been largely neglected, partly because—unlike unionism—it is seen as unexceptional. Dating organisationally from the constitutional nationalist movement of the early decades of the twentieth century and reorganised as the SDLP after the civil rights movement of 1968-69, its ideology has evolved from single-issue anti-partitionism to a much more subtle blend of policy positions that is difficult to categorise. In terms of other kinds of nationalist movements, it may be seen as combining elements of liberal nationalism, regionalism and civic republicanism—an ideology entirely compatible with the Good Friday agreement of 1998. This new formulation offers a fresh perspective on relations within the British Isles, but especially within Europe and within a new Ireland, though its capacity to protect the SDLP against the electoral challenge from Sinn Féin is as yet unclear.
Type of Material
University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies
IBIS Working Papers
Redefining the union and the nation: new perspectives on political progress in Ireland Lecture Series
Copyright (Published Version)
The authors, 2001
Subject – LCSH
Northern Ireland--Politics and government
Status of Item
Revised text of two lectures presented as part of the seminar se-ries “Redefining the union and the nation: new perspectives on political progress in Ireland”, organised jointly by the Conference of University Rectors in Ireland and the Institute for British-Irish Studies. The lectures were presented in UCD on 2 Oc-tober 2000.
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