This article analyses the use of equality as a concept central to the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. The authors argue that, although equality legislation is succeeding in redressing previous discrimination in society, the discourses that have emerged around it have exacerbated competition and polarization between communities for two main reasons. Firstly, in " selling' the Agreement to their supporters, political elites have appropriated community-specific definitions of the concept, thus reinforcing rather than weakening group differences. Secondly, the practice of equality legislation involves the definitive categorization of individuals as members of particular groups. This article examines these processes and their effects through the analysis of the discourse of nationalist and Unionist Party elites and of individual Catholics and Protestants. This is done in order to capture the dynamics of change in political communication and identification rather than simply describing institutional alterations.