"Breeding Ground for Terrorism:" Constitutional Aspects of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 1993-8
The Northern Ireland peace process is one of the few models for conflict resolution to have produced a demonstrable reduction in paramilitary activity by restructuring society to allow for genuine participation by their political associates. Several scholars have attempted to discern how the developments that occurred during this period convinced loyalist and republican paramilitaries to make previously unimaginable compromises and enter into nonviolent constitutional politics. This article is a departure from previous theories because it focuses on the activities of the Irish and British governments and their acceptance of the fundamental principles of unionist consent and national self-determination. They enshrined these principles into their respective constitutions, demonstrating to Northern Ireland’s warring communities that they had effectively renounced their traditional positions in the conflict and indicated that the constitutional future of Northern Ireland would be determined by its people alone. It examines the interplay between the governments’ activities and the loyalist and republican responses, and finally argues that it was these unique constitutional changes that occurred in the 1990s that enticed the republican and loyalist paramilitaries to end their armed campaigns and to support the political settlement enshrined within the Good Friday Agreement.
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