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The Politics of Radical Democracy$
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Adrian Little and Moya Lloyd

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633999

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633999.001.0001

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The Northern Ireland Paradox

The Northern Ireland Paradox

Chapter:
(p.179) 9 The Northern Ireland Paradox
Source:
The Politics of Radical Democracy
Author(s):

Adrian Little

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633999.003.0010

This chapter examines radical democracy through the case of Northern Ireland, once thought of as an example of intractable conflict. Northern Ireland, at least since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, has often been analysed in terms of liberal democratic consensus-driven models of democracy. The discussion argues that this is a mistake. The repeated suspensions of the democratic institutions and outbreaks of disagreement that have marked the post-Agreement period are better interpreted through the ‘paradigm of radical democracy’, with its emphasis on democracy as a fragile, contingent and always-incomplete project. Although radical democracy has undoubted strengths as an interpretive frame, particularly for divided societies in the midst of political transformation, and as a critique of liberal democracy, the chapter argues it needs to be clearer in its critique of democracy.

Keywords:   Northern Ireland, radical democracy, Belfast Agreement, political transformation

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