National park models have evolved in tandem with the emergence of a multifunctional countryside. Sustainable development has been added to the traditional twin aims of conservation and recreation. This is typified by recent national park designations, such as the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. A proposed Mournes national park in Northern Ireland has evolved a stage further with a model of national park to deliver national economic goals envisaged by government. This seeks to commodify the natural landscape. This paper compares Cairngorm and Mourne stakeholders’ views on the principal features of both models: park aims, management structures and planning functions. While Cairngorm stakeholders were largely positive from the outset, the model of national park introduced is not without criticism. Conversely, Mourne stakeholders have adopted an anti-national park stance. Nevertheless, the model of national park proposed possessing a strong economic imperative, an absence of the Sandford Principle as a means to manage likely conflicts, and lacking any planning powers in its own right, may still be insufficient to bring about widespread support for a Mourne national park. Such a model is also likely to accelerate the degradation of the Mourne landscape. Competing national identities (British and Irish) provide an additional dimension to the national park debate in Northern Ireland. Deep ideological cleavages are capable of derailing the introduction of a national park irrespective of the model proposed. In Northern Ireland the national park debate is not only about reconciling environmental and economic interests but also political and ethno-national differences.