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Perceptions in Northern Ireland: 25 Years After the Good Friday Agreement

May 04, 2023
Sabine Carey, Marcela Ibáñez, and Eline Drury Løvlien


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Sabine Carey, professor of political science at the University of Mannheim, Marcela Ibáñez, postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of Political Economy and Development at the University of Zurich, and Eline Drury Løvlien, associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, analyze attitudes toward sectarianism in Northern Ireland since The Troubles and find that paramilitary forces are still a divisive issue, on both sectarian and gender lines.

On April 10, 1998, various political parties in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland signed a peace deal ending decades of violent conflict. Twenty-five years later, the Good Friday Agreement remains an example of complex but successful peace negotiations that ended the conflict era known as The Troubles.

Since the agreement, Northern Ireland has experienced a sharp decline in violence. But sectarian divisions continue as a constant feature in everyday life. Peace walls remain in many cities, separating predominantly Catholic nationalists from predominantly Protestant unionist and loyalist neighborhoods. Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol increased tensions between the previously warring communities, leading to an upsurge in sectarian violence, which has been a great cause of concern.

In March 2022, we conducted an online survey to understand attitudes toward sectarianism among Northern Ireland’s adult population. Our results show that sectarianism continues to impact perceptions and attitudes in Northern Ireland. The continued presence of paramilitaries is still a divisive issue that follows not just sectarian lines but also has a strong gender component.

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.