Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Harris C.
Irish Studies In International Affairs
Anglo-irish elite cooperation and the peace process: The impact of the EEC/EU
Optional Fields
© 2018, Royal Irish Academy. All rights reserved. This paper assesses how membership of the EEC/EU has facilitated cooperation between the Anglo-Irish elite. Defining ‘the potential for elite accommodation’ as including an elite motivation, political security, structured elite predominance and conciliatory attitudes, the paper analyses the Europeanisation of Anglo-Irish relations with regard to the development of conciliatory attitudes under two headings: familiarity breeds consent and sovereignty revisited. From the formation of the Free State to the late 1960s Anglo-Irish relations experienced decades of ‘disengagement’ and distancing. Anglo-Irish elite attitudes during this time ranged from hostile to cooperative. The return of the Troubles to Northern Ireland corresponded with EEC accession negotiations. The will to restore peace and security in Northern Ireland and to prevent the spillover of violence into the Republic became a strong elite motivation for compromise. Frequent meetings on the fringes of European Council summits increased mutual awareness and became a forum for informal but fruitful negotiations. The sui generis European system of governance provided the elite, particularly the Irish elite, with a conceptual framework to break free from the identity crisis inherent in traditional Irish nationalism. Indirectly fostering conciliatory attitudes between the Anglo-Irish elite, the EEC/EU made a vital contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.
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