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Title: British Government strategy in Northern Ireland, 1969-98 : an evolutionary analysis
Author: Neumann, Peter
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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Using the methods of strategic analysis, this work evaluates the British government's approach towards the conflict in Northern Ireland, starting with London's first intervention in 1969, and ending with the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. The British government's aim throughout the period was to achieve the containment of the conflict. In the years 1969-71, it was believed that this aim could be realised by maintaining the existing constitutional structures of Home Rule and Unionist majority rule. The outcomes of this strategy, however, were wholly negative. From 1972, the government's aim translated into the objective of creating political stability through a system of government to which both sides would consent, thus establishing a mutual veto on what was seen as the 'political solution'. It followed that the most important factor to determine London's strategy was the imperative of facilitating political agreement. However, traditional ideas continued to interfere with the conditioning of the strategic instruments, so that London's effectiveness as a political facilitator turned out to be limited. As a consequence, there were two attempts to circumvent the logic of the mutual veto: the notion of producing stability by making Direct Rule from London semi-permanent (1976-79), and the idea of easing the operation of Direct Rule through an inter-governmental framework, resulting in the Anglo- Irish Agreement of 1985. Although both attempts were failures in that they could not achieve what the British government had intended, they nevertheless conditioned the form of agreement that was reached in 1998. The Belfast Agreement made it possible for the British government to realise its objective, yet in allowing some parties to maintain the threat of violence as a means with which to obtain concessions, it suffers from an asymmetry that furthers instability and might well turn out to make the achievement of containment impossible
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available