Between the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit: Old and New Challenges to Autonomy in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland comprises six historical counties in the northeast of the island of Ireland. The entity came into being when the predominantly Protestant population of the six counties opposed Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom (UK) in 1921. As a result, only 26 counties in the South and West of the island went on to constitute the independent Irish Free State (from 1949, the Republic of Ireland), while Northern Ireland remained a part of the UK. The border between Northern Ireland and the Free State was deliberately drawn to ensure that the Protestant community of Northern Ireland would constitute a majority of roughly two thirds of the population. The remaining population, like the majority in the Free State, was predominantly Roman Catholic. While there is no perfect correlation between religious denomination and political preferences, there has been a strong link between these two characteristics within the population of Northern Ireland (Mitchell 2006; Coakley 2008): Protestants (of varying denominational backgrounds) have been overwhelmingly in favor of Northern Ireland’s union with the UK. Hence, this group is commonly referred to as unionist. Contrastingly, Roman Catholics tend to support Northern Ireland’s unification with the Republic of Ireland. Given their support for Irish nationalism, this segment of the population is known as nationalist.

Access work

https://www.world-autonomies.info/territorial-autonomies/northern-ireland


https://doi.org/10.57749/wg1v-y344
Utz, P. (2022). Between the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit: Old and New Challenges to Autonomy in Northern Ireland. https://doi.org/10.57749/WG1V-Y344

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