Very articulate writing skills with a particular focus on Research Methodology. Specialist topics include; Middle Eastern Politics, The Politics of Deeply Divided Societies, The Politics of Sustainable Development, Skills and Methods in the Study of Politics, Security and Terrorism, Points of Political Comparison, Contemporary Theories of Justice, Diplomacy and Conflict Intervention.
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Sample of work
In Northern Ireland religion, identity and politics are inextricably linked and these three defining features evoke a colossal feeling of sentiment and emotion among a large majority of the Region's population which have an immediate impact on the day to day affairs of the Province. The two major protagonists of the conflict differ on a wide range of issues, but at the heart of the crisis is the issue of identity. Differences in religious and national aspirations manifest into mutual bitterness, hostility and suspicion of one another which have created an exclusionary nature to Northern Irish politics. These deep rooted conflicting beliefs developed into some 30 years of protracted conflict in 1968 resulting in over 3,600 fatalities.
This paper will investigate 'how the contemporary Northern Ireland conflict has affected unionist and nationalist identities', and question whether the two communities have become more polarised or more harmonious since the beginnings of the peace process in the 1990's. In addition, I will critically examine where unionists and nationalists stand in relation to their respective identities and ideologies since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998 which has fundamentally altered the political landscape in Northern Ireland, significantly improved the relationships between the two protagonists but crucially it has led to the actual sitting down of the once (and still) archrivals and getting down to the real business of government. But in doing so the GFA has created a 'constructive ambiguity' where 'zero sum' politics and notions are foremost in people's minds. The Belfast Agreement should be recognised, promoted and encouraged as a 'win win' situation for all inhabitants of Northern Ireland.
The central aim of my dissertation is to explore how separate and antagonistic national identities have been constructed and cemented into the mindsets of the two major traditions in Northern Ireland, which have been a major contributing factor to the conflict reinforcing the polarisation of the Region. I will look at the shift in national identities over the period of the conflict and examine the possibility of more people from each side of the religious divide adopting 'Northern Irish' as their main badge of national identity. I will argue that such a shift in national allegiance would lead to further political, national and religious reconciliation between the two communities in Northern Ireland, and that such a shift should be promoted by both governments and all political parties in the Region to foster more respect and tolerance between the two major traditions. I will draw on evidence produced by the various loyalty and attitude surveys carried out by numerous academics between 1968 and 2004 outlining perceived national identity patterns, most notably Richard Rose (1968) and Edward Moxon-Brown (1978). I will argue that the 'us and them' doctrine has not only created but reinforces the paranoid society in which we live and it will take recognition by both opposing traditions to acknowledge our cultural differences.
Chapter 1 will set the scene of the two major combatants to the conflict outlining the major characteristics of unionists; determined to retain the link with Great Britain, and nationalists; aiming at some kind of all-Ireland structure. I will not focus on a chronology of the events that occurred throughout the contemporary Northern Ireland conflict. Instead I will examine the causes and consequences of the conflict with a particular emphasis on political and national identities, and how these evolving divided identities have changed and altered in response to the conflict and the 'peace process'. I will explore the reasons behind Northern Ireland's deeply polarised and fragmented society where identities are often defined in opposition to one another and examine why people feel the need to mould their identities in an exclusionary manner.
Chapter 2 will focus on British national identity in Northern Ireland, and examine how this sense of 'Britishness' has wavered and shifted in response to key political moments throughout the history of 'the troubles'. Unionism's failure to historically consider the nationalist cause has brought about a seismic change and redirection in contemporary unionist thinking since the beginning of the 'peace process' with the leader of unionism, Dr Ian Paisley now on the verge of sharing power with Sinn Fein (SF). I will further outline how unionist identities have changed dramatically since 1968 where they once held the political power in a 'one-party state'. As time progressed and political change swept across Northern Ireland, the unionist community portray themselves as having suffered a series of defeats at the hands of their opponents and have increasingly felt alienated and disillusioned with the changing political climate.
Chapter 3 will explore the sense of 'Irishness' within Northern Ireland, and assess the changing nature of this sense of identity, where increasingly nationalists and Catholics have come to assert their identity with greater confidence and clarity, which has reflected negatively on unionist identities. Northern nationalist's identity is strongly linked to an overwhelming sense of community and nation, but several observers have identified the pursuit of justice and equality as central to the construction of nationalist aims and identities. The republican movement's shift from political violence to embrace the most fundamental pillars of the GFA has resulted in a new and emerging generation of professional middle-class Catholics who appear to be more interested in material well-being than political independence which has resulted in a greatly enhanced and confident nationalist community in Northern Ireland.
My final chapter will bring together all the discussions under scrutiny in this paper and critically examine the growing sense of 'Northern Irish' identity within Northern Ireland, which has been embraced by a growing number of both unionists and nationalists, leading some academics to argue that there is more in common between the two traditions, than once assumed. By promoting and encouraging a 'Northern Irish' identity for all the people living in Northern Ireland, it is hoped and envisaged that future generations will not become so tied up with exclusionary religious and political beliefs as past generations have done. People's horizons must be widened to incorporate and embrace all who live in society, not just the members of the society one comes from. This is much too narrow-minded and insular. We must abandon the notion of essentialist identities and embrace a more, all inclusive overarching sense of 'Northern Irish', where we are free, to be British, Irish, or Northern Irish, or a combination of all three. We are free to choose the identity which fits the situation in which one finds oneself. We can have a multitude of identities at our disposal, not least a European identity, which is open to all in Northern Ireland and transcends the religious and national divide.