For generations in Northern Ireland, unionist and nationalist communities have been frozen in isolation from one another, preferring demonstrations of communal solidarity to negotiation and cooperation. This absorbing book examines the many attempts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland, beginning with the civil rights movement and Prime Minister Terence O'Neill's reform efforts in the mid-1960's, continuing up to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. It finds that early attempts at peacemaking suggested only mechanical political solutions, which only deepened the antagonistic pattern of relationships. It was not until these existing relationships were challenged, most crucially through the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985 and subsequent initiatives jointly determined by the British and Irish governments, that the main parties began to participate in efforts to create a democratic peace. The authors contend that a political and cultural process is now in motion that gives peace its first real chance in Northern Ireland's history.
Sean Farren is Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Ulster, and a leading member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. He has been closely involved in several political initiatives aimed at resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland, and in December 1999, was appointed Minister for Higher & Further Education, Training, and Employment in the Northern Ireland Executive. Robert F. Mulvihill is Professor of Political Science at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania and was Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster, Coleraine.