Since the beginning of the Northern Ireland conflict in the late 1960s, Irish nationalism has been identified as a prominent force in the political culture of the state. Recent studies have suggested, however, that the ‘Nationalist’ population has become increasingly content within the new political framework created by the peace process and the aspiration for Irish unity diminished. In placing the Northern Ireland situation within the theoretical framework of nationalism, this paper will analyse how these changing priorities have been possible. Through an analysis of Irish language study in Northern Ireland's schools, the paper will examine how the political ideals espoused by the nationalist Sinn Féin Party reflected the priorities of the ‘nationalist community’. It will be contended that the relationship between the ideology and ‘the people’ is much more complex than is often allowed for and that educational inequalities are a significant contributing factor to this.
- National identity
- Northern Ireland