Parades, Flags, Carnivals and Riots: Public Space, Contestation and Transformation in Northern Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores one of the defining aspects of politics and identity in Northern Ireland: the control and utilization of public space, particularly urban public space. Ethnopolitical conflict consistently reveals itself through contestation over public space. The role of ritual events is important in the development of political identity and group cohesion. The symbolic landscape will be constructed through displays of identity by dominant groups and their ability to control that landscape by inhibiting displays by other groups. This will reveal itself through frequent contests over rituals and symbols. This paper looks at the role of ritual events in civic spaces in Belfast but particularly asks what role they might play in conflict transformation. The 1998 agreement offered political structures that provided for shared power after 30 years of violent conflict. At the same time, there was an increase in contestation over public space as political groups within the previously marginalized Catholic community demanded recognition within the public sphere and a rebalancing of the public space through changes to the previously dominant Protestant and Unionist expression of identity. The paper concludes by suggesting that in “shared space” a new civic identity that spans the political and ethnic divisions has started to develop in Belfast and that this might evolve despite an increased residential division throughout the urban area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-573
Number of pages9
JournalPeace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • public space
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Northern Ireland
  • ritual
  • symbols


Dive into the research topics of 'Parades, Flags, Carnivals and Riots: Public Space, Contestation and Transformation in Northern Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this