The Role of the Republic Of Ireland in the Peace Process in North of Ireland

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The Role of the Republic Of Ireland in the Peace Process in North of Ireland


The best description of Northern Ireland is that it is a country of contradiction as it contradicts the beauty of its landscape and the lifestyle of its people (Canning, Moore & Rhodes 1987). The sectarian divide among the people of the land led to a bloody conflict that left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands with lifetime injuries. The divide was also the main cause of the conflicts although the British rule over the land also contributed to the violence.

Although the conflict resulted from the religious and cultural, differences of the Irish people, the conflict was politically initiated. It was a struggle between the different religious and cultural divides that characterize the land. Secondly, the British rule or incorporation into the states under the United Kingdom and the need for united or free Ireland also contributed to the conflict (Canning, Moore & Rhodes 1987). The Protestants who form the majority proposed the incorporation into the UK while the Catholics proposed united Ireland states. Unlike in the Ireland republic, Northern Ireland was characterized by sectarian conflicts based on protestant and catholic faith. Although Ireland republic has both Protestants and Catholics, its people have learnt to co-exist despite the religious differences. Secondly, the country has a good experience concerning conflicts arising from religious differences and therefore it was in a good position to intervene in the conflict.

This paper therefore analyzes the conflict and the role played by the republic of Ireland in the peace process. Secondly, the paper looks at the important stages that led to the development of peace following the intervention of Ireland republic.

The ceasefire

For the peace process to become effective, the parties involved in the conflict had to lay down their arms in order to stop the killings. The cease-fire was meant to be the starting point in the peace process since it was meant to bring the parties involved in the conflict at the negotiation table. Secondly, the ceasefire was also meant to be the beginning of the political process that could lead to a peaceful Northern Ireland. The need for the ceasefire was officially declared in 1994 following negotiations of top leaders from the two major nationalist parties in Ireland (Barkley 1959). These negotiations led to a series of agreements and statements that were expected to bring peace to the land. However, the negotiations could not have been successful without the support of the Irish government and therefore the Ireland republic played a major role in the process. It can therefore evident that without the intervention of the Irish republic, Northern Ireland could still be in conflict and this could have hindered any attempt to bring peace.

The statement made during the negotiation process was also a major step in the realization of peace in Northern Ireland. The statement clearly demonstrated that the Irish republic was only after a peaceful Northern Ireland without hidden agenda. The statement also indicates that the Irish republic had a self-contained peace process that had to start from economic reforms followed by political reforms. In their intervention process, the Irish republic created a choice for the Northern Ireland either to join the Irish republic or to be part of the United Kingdom. According to Canning, Moore & Rhodes (1987) the conflict was more of an economic conflict rather than a political conflict. This statement supports the basis of the Irish republic on their understanding towards the problem. This implies that the Irish republic applied a strategic approach in the solution to the conflict in the Northern Ireland based on economic factors. In addition, the peace process statement indicated that a peaceful Ireland could only be achieved through peaceful negotiations and this demonstrates the involvement of the Irish republic in the process. In conclusion, the Irish republic played a major role in the peace process in the Northern Ireland by first proposing and supporting a ceasefire followed by a statement of the peace process. With that, peace process was ready for the next stage that involved the actual negotiations.

On The Negotiation Table

Peaceful Northern Ireland mainly resulted from peaceful negotiations that allowed for reconciliations and agreements between the warring parties (O'Day 1997). This statement implies that the negotiations were the only channel that could guarantee peace in the Northern Ireland and therefore it had to be applied. Following the IRA 1994 provision that called for immediate ceasefire the negotiation process was ready to begin under the leadership of the Irish government. The Irish republic through Taoiseach accepted the call for ceasefire and later confirmed that his country was in support of permanent ceasefire and immediate negotiations. For the negotiation, process to succeed it had to include all factors that initially led to the conflict beginning with religious issue through to the issue of integration. In all these processes and considerations, the Irish government played a major role in determining the directions taken by the concerned parties.

Through the support of the Irish republic, ceasefire was meant to be the starting point in the negotiation process that was meant to bring a lasting peaceful solution in the conflict. In 1995, the Ireland republic held a referendum with the aim of changing the divorce law on its constitution. This had a major impact in the negotiation process since it checked the religious conflicts between the two parties involved. Secondly, the referendum process demonstrated that negotiations and agreement were the best solution to solve conflicts and therefore the involved parties had to follow the laid example. Furthermore, the Ireland republic through the referendum process initiated the religious integration of the Northern Ireland and the Ireland republic. The Northern Ireland was affiliated to Protestantism while the Ireland republic was affiliated to catholic faith and therefore was against divorce. Through the Ireland republic intervention and referendum, the concerned parties in the Northern Ireland's conflict must have realized the need to have negotiations leading to agreements and reconciliations.

The 1995 referendum in Ireland was followed by another great step towards achieving peace through negotiations. In 1995 with the assistance of the British government, the republic of Ireland initiated and developed the "twin-track" process that was to lead the concerned parties through the negotiation process. The "twin-track" process demonstrated that the republic of Ireland was committed towards a lasting peaceful solution towards the conflict.

Although the Northern Ireland conflict was a bloody conflict, the call for ceasefire and the negotiation process initiated by the Irish republic proved to be the best solution. The Ireland republic therefore played an important role in the Northern Ireland peace process by initiating the negotiation process that led to the next important stage in the peace process. Although the negotiation process seemed to be a better solution towards the problem, it did not fully support the imposed ceasefire and Northern Ireland was in war again. The peace process therefore had to turn around from the peaceful negotiations into a second call for ceasefire.

The Second Ceasefire

Although the first ceasefire initiated by the republic of Ireland was important, in the peace process, it did not last long and the region went back to war. The second ceasefire was therefore important in order to bring a lasting solution towards the peace process in the Northern Ireland. Under the leadership of John Hume, the Ireland republic decided to impose a new ceasefire through the IRA. This was very important in the peace process of Northern Ireland and the reconciliation process.

To begin with, the second ceasefire demonstrated that the Ireland republic was fully committed in ensuring full peace status. Secondly, the ceasefire demonstrated that obtaining peace was not an easy task and therefore the Northern Ireland had to be prepared to go through the whole process. Thirdly, the intervention of the Ireland republic in the peace process demonstrated that the Irish republic was fully committed in the peace process.

According to (Miller 1978) a peaceful solution is not easily achieved and therefore the parties involved have to apply all possible channels and procedures. Failure of the first ceasefire implies that the country was concerned about peace only that it applied the wrong channels and procedures. Returning into conflict also implied that the Ireland republic still needed to be active in the peace process. The Ireland republic therefore acted promptly to promote the peace process by imposing and supporting a second ceasefire. The second ceasefire was also meant to enhance or promote the negotiation process that was already taking place under the leadership of the Ireland republic. The second ceasefire also demonstrated that the people of Northern Ireland had to be fully optimistic in their attempt to achieve peace. With negotiations in progress and a call for the second ceasefire, the next important step was to make agreements.

Important Agreements

In finding a solution to conflicts, agreements form an important part in the whole process and they form the final stages of the peace process. The Ireland republic had this awareness and therefore it set the agreement as the next important step after the negotiations and ceasefires. These agreements were meant to bring the parties under conflicts in an agreement concerning contentious issues under religion and cultural influences (Miller 1978). Similar to the previous interventions the Ireland republic initiated the agreement process through signing of IICD in collaboration with the British government. Secondly, the Good Friday agreements led by Taoiseach of the Ireland republic under the assistance of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair brought a major contribution to the end of the conflict. The agreements mainly called for disarmament process, release of political prisoners and the formation of a balanced government that represents the Catholics and the Protestants equally.

These agreements represented the views and the needs of the people and therefore the Northern Ireland had to come into a peaceful agreement through the agreement process initiated by the Ireland republic. This led to the next important steps in the peace process all in support of the Ireland republic. The Good Friday agreement also demonstrated that the people of Northern Ireland were ready to give up their religious and cultural differences in their attempt to find peace. In conclusion, the Ireland republic played an important part in bringing a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland conflict that started with ceasefires followed closely by agreements.

The Referendum

The peace agreements made by the parties under conflicts could only be valid if they were reflected in the constitution and therefore the referendum was important factor to determine their inclusion. These agreements had to be approved in both the Northern Ireland and the republic of Ireland. Through the referendum that took place in 1998 the Ireland republic accepted the agreements although the results were controversial. The contentious issues in the referendum included the status of Northern Ireland, religious and cultural equality, release of political prisoners and end to violence. The republic of Ireland generally has a larger population of voters as compared to the Northern Ireland and therefore they have a greater voting power. According to the referendum result, the Ireland republic generally voted "yes" to the constitution compared to the Northern Ireland. With these results, the constitution passed and it brought new measures to ending conflicts in the Ireland republic. With the new constitution, the agreements made between the parties involved in conflict became laws and therefore anyone who violated these laws was answerable under the constitution.

The new constitution could not have been enacted without the contributions of the republic of Ireland and therefore the republic of Ireland played a major role in determining the country's constitution. In addition, the new constitution promoted peace by addressing the contentious issues that had contributed to the conflict. The new constitution also promoted peace by making it illegal to trade in weapons. In addition, the new constitution required that all illegal arms in the hands of civilians should be surrendered to the authority and this was a major step towards the peace process. The Ireland republic therefore played an important role in ensuring that the Northern Ireland achieved a new constitution that promoted peace and reconciliation. With the new constitution, Northern Ireland had to enter into the next stage of the peace process that involved the implementation of the constitutions and agreements.


Barkley, J 1959, A Short history of the presbyterian church in Ireland, Publications Board of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Belfast.

Canning, D, Moore, B & Rhodes, J 1987, Economic growth in Northern Ireland, problems and prospects, in beyond the rhetoric, politics, the economy, and social policy in Northern Ireland, Lawrence and Wishart, London.

Miller, D 1978, Queen's rebels, ulster loyalism in historical perspective, Gill and Macmillan, Dublin.

O'Day, A1997, Political violence in Northern Ireland, conflict and conflict resolution, Greenwood publishing group, Westport.

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