The Politics of Northern Ireland

Neil Matthews*, Jamie Pow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter provides an overview of developments in the Northern Ireland party system and its politics since 1998. It focuses on individual parties and also covers the party system as ‘the system of interactions resulting from inter-party competition. Northern Ireland has its own distinctive and discrete party system. The major British and Irish political parties have largely opted against contesting elections in the region, aside from an ill-starred electoral alliance between the Ulster Unionist Party and the British Conservative Party. The power-sharing institutions established by the Good Friday Agreement were designed to reflect the dominant ethno-national cleavage in Northern Ireland. Devolution in Northern Ireland has proved to be a dysfunctional affair. Critics of consociational arrangements argue that they inevitably ‘freeze’ political divisions along existing ethno-national dimension.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of British Politics and Society
EditorsMark Garnett, Helena Pillmoor
ISBN (Print)9781138677937
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020


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