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Devolution and the politics of development in Northern Ireland


  • Brendan Murtagh
  • Peter Shirlow


The reintroduction of devolution in Northern Ireland is widely interpreted as the working out of the Belfast Agreement (1998) which aimed to embed political consensus in shared institutions of the state. However, such analysis tends to be limited with regard to wider political economy readings of the devolution project and historic struggles to find an appropriate institutional fix to manage different forms of crisis. Peace and stability have, it is argued, permitted Northern Ireland’s reentry to global markets and circuits of capital with new governance structures being assembled to reconfigure ‘postconflict’ economic space. We argue that the onset of devolution has promoted a mix between ethnosectarian resource competition and a constantly expanding neoliberal model of governance. Devolved neoliberal structures that sustain social polarisation may perpetuate strategies of resistance that could cut across and challenge ethnosectarian politics and deepening social segregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Brendan Murtagh & Peter Shirlow, 2012. "Devolution and the politics of development in Northern Ireland," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(1), pages 46-61, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirc:v:30:y:2012:i:1:p:46-61

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