Theme: Law & justice | Content Type: Journal article

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The Future of Northern Ireland: the Role of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement Institutions

Conor J. Kelly and Etain Tannam

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Since the 2016 Brexit referendum a series of crises has gripped Northern Ireland's politics. This has had a destabilising effect across society, which has arguably been felt most acutely by political unionism. The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (B/GFA) of 1998 created a series of institutions to deal with political conflict in Northern Ireland, manage cross-border cooperation and normalise relations between the UK and Ireland. However, many aspects of it have been sparingly and ineffectually deployed, most notably the second and third strands dealing with north/south and east/west relations respectively. In this article, the authors argue that regular use of the institutional arrangements created by the Agreement would help to deal with the challenges currently facing Northern Ireland and help address unionist anxieties over the Protocol. Use of the North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), the British Irish Council (BIC) and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) should be prioritised. The unresolved issues arising from Brexit require a recommitment to the intergovernmental logic at the heart of the 1998 Agreement, despite the obstacles.

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    Conor J. Kelly

    Conor J. Kelly is a PhD student at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Research Assistant at the Constitution Unit at University College London.

    Articles by Conor J. Kelly
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    Etain Tannam

    Etain Tannam is Associate Professor of International Peace Studies and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.

    Articles by Etain Tannam