Document Type



Social sciences, 5.6 POLITICAL SCIENCE

Publication Details

O'Ralaigh, C. (2023). rom Constructive Ambiguities to Structural Contradictions: The Twilight of the Good Friday Agreement? Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice.


The Good Friday Agreement contained a series of constructive ambiguities which were critical to ensuring that it received broad cross-political support. These ambiguities were reflective of the balance of political power of the time. Once institutionalized, they contained an immanent potential to morph in to structural contradictions as the re-balancing of demographic and political power in Ireland moved from latent to manifest status. As the Agreement reaches its 25th anniversary, three outstanding structural contradictions are manifesting, prompted by Brexit and the re-introduction of the ‘Irish question’ in to Irish-British relations. The constitutional status of the North of Ireland, the raison d’etre of statelet, and the inability of the governing institutions to function representationally or effectively have co-joined with a new balance of political power favoring Irish nationalism over Ulster unionism. Consequently, whether or not we are witnessing the twilight of the Good Friday Agreement will be contingent upon the short-medium term political decisions of key political actors, most notably, Ulster unionism. Three probable future developments will be further stasis, institutional reform, or (r)evolutionary constitutional change.



This research received no external funding

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.