№ 2, 2021
For many decades, Northern Ireland has been characterized by a tense conflict of identities with frequent outbreaks of political and religious violence. At the end of the 20th century, a consensus was reached between the opposing sides on the need for a peaceful settlement of the contradictions, which was reflected in the 1998 Belfast Agreement. The most important part of the agreement was a transition to the consociational model of governance. Consociationalism was assumed to “cure” the Northern Irish region, save it from violence and antagonism, and help to establish a dialogue between the representatives of the region’s key collective identities — unionists and nationalists. However, although 22 years have passed since the introduction of the consociational system, the settlement of the conflict has not seen any obvious progress.
The article attempts to trace the reasons for this state of affairs and, in particular, to find out whether consociational model could, in principle, live up to the expectations. Based on the analysis of the fundamental characteristics of this model, as well as the institutional patterns in the Northern Irish politics, P.Maksimova comes to the conclusion that consociational practices not only failed to contribute to the elimination of the antagonistic moods in the society, but also helped to preserve them. According to the author, consociational system is merely an instrument of crisis management, which, if misinterpreted, can only intensify confrontation and block the final settlement of the conflict. This is exactly what happened in Northern Ireland, where the specific features of the consociational system made it almost impossible to abandon group identities.
Maksimova P. V.
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