Northern Ireland (NI) is emerging from a violent period in its troubled history and remains a society characterized by segregation between its two main communities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in education, where for the most part Catholic and Protestant pupils are educated separately. During the last 30 years there has been twofold pressure placed on the education system in NI – at one level to respond to intergroup tensions by promoting reconciliation, and at another, to deal with national policy demands derived from a global neoliberalist economic agenda. With reference to current efforts to promote shared education between separate schools, we explore the uneasy dynamic between a school-based reconciliation programme in a transitioning society and system-wide values that are driven by neoliberalism and its organizational manifestation – new managerialism. We argue that whilst the former seeks to promote social democratic ideals in education that can have a potentially transformative effect at the societal level, neoliberal priorities have the potential to both subvert shared education and also to embed it.