The Irish border has been described as a ‘natural’ cultural divide between the island's two dominant indigenous ethno-national communities. However, an examination of key resources of ethno-national group culture - religion, sport and language - provides evidence to challenge this representation. Moreover, in the post-1994 period of conflict transformation, evidence is also presented to support the proposition that the Irish border region has developed into a cultural space in which Irish nationalist and Ulster unionist ethno-national communities can explore cultural differences and commonalities through cross-border, cross-community contact and communication in small group encounters. This space underpins the reconfiguration of the border from barrier to political bridge between North and South. European Union (EU) Peace programmes for Ireland, beginning in 1995, provided the support for a cross-border approach to escaping the cage of ethno-national conflict in Northern Ireland. However, post-2004 EU enlargement signalled the beginning of the end for EU Peace funding and severe economic recession has undermined the expectation of British-Irish intergovernmental intervention to support cross-border partnerships and their work. Therefore, the outlook for the sustainability of this cross-border cultural space is gloomy with potentially deleterious consequences for the continued reconfiguration of the border from barrier to bridge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management