Crossing the Border: New Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

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This timely book provides the first sustained examination of cross-border relationships since the momentous sequence of events that began with the Good Friday agreement of 1998. It looks at changing patterns of North-South relations in three broad domains: politics and public administration, the economy, and civil society. Specific topics covered include the cross-border implementation bodies, the island economy, the voluntary sector, education, health, planning, public policy and the EU. The book draws on findings from a two-year research project embracing a large, multi-disciplinary team based in Dublin, Belfast, Dundalk and Armagh.  The book also sets recent changes in perspective, outlining the evolution of cross-border relationships between partition in 1920 and the recent comprehensive settlement, and exploring the extent to which leaders North and South remained in denial about the evolving impact and implications of the border until the closing decades of the 20th century. The authors demonstrate how the search for a settlement in Northern Ireland has created a new dynamic in cross-border relationships, underlining the critical importance of these relationships in sustaining the peace process. In a trenchant assessment of future prospects, the book stresses the extent to which new North-South relationships have been dependent on external funding from the EU and the USA. It argues that the diminution of these funds potentially threatens the sustainability of successful cross-border programmes, putting the onus on the two governments to develop a more coherent and strategic approach to cross-border co-operation. 

Crossing the Border is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the island of Ireland in the twenty first century, for all those actively committed to consolidating peace in the island, and, in particular, for the wide range of policy makers and activists seeking to forge a new and mutually beneficial relationship between the two Irelands.

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

  • The ‘new’ Irish border: changing political, economic and social dimensions ~ John Coakley and Liam O’Dowd

Part II: Parameters of the North-South relationship

  • Institutional cooperation: the North-South implementation bodies ~ John Coakley, Brian O Caoindealbháin and Robin Wilson
  • The island economy: Ireland before and after the Belfast agreement ~ John Bradley
  • Civil society: the permeability of the North-South border ~ Kevin Howard
  • Public policy: the EU and the Good Friday agreement ~ Etain Tannam
  • The voluntary sector: promoting peace and cooperation ~ Liam O’Dowd and Cathal McCall

Part III: Case Studies in the North-South relationship

  • Cooperative projects: the education sector ~ Andy Pollak
  • Institutional cooperation: the health sector ~ Patricia Clarke
  • Economic Development: the textile and information technology sectors ~ John Bradley
  • Competitive Sports: the territorial politics of Irish cycling ~ Kevin Howard
  • Public policy cooperation: the ‘common chapter’ – shadow or substance? ~ Eoin Magennis
  • Sustaining cooperation? The public, private and civil society sectors ~ Liam O’Dowd, Cathal McCall and Ivo Damkat

Part IV: Conclusion

  • The Irish border in the twenty-first century ~ John Coakley and Liam O’Dowd

About the Editors

John Coakley is an Associate Professor of politics at University College Dublin.  He has edited or co-edited Changing Shades of Orange and Green (UCD Press 2002); The Territorial Management of Ethnic Conflict (2nd ed, Frank Cass, 2003); From Political Violence to Negotiated Settlement (UCD Press, 2004); and Politics in the Republic of Ireland (4th ed, Routledge, 2004).

Liam O’Dowd is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for International Borders Research (CIBR) at Queen’s University, Belfast.  Recent publications include Culture and Cooperation in Europe’s Borderlands (European Studies, 19, Rodopi, 2003; New Borders for a Changing Europe (Frank Cass, 2003), both co-edited with James Anderson and Tom Wilson and The Changing Significance of European Borders, Regional and Federal Studies 12 (4) 2002.