So, Northern Ireland is sorted. A devolved executive is in place, violence has reduced significantly, and we are selling our peace process around the world as a model of power-sharing for contested societies. Well yes, to some extent. But in my recent article analysing the fragility of the peace process entitled Northern Ireland: where is the peace dividend, and published in Policy & Politics, I argue that we now have a ‘negative peace’ where those most impacted by violence have gained least from the peace process.
Not to take away from all those who have got us to this point but people living in highly segregated, socially deprived areas have actually witnessed the quality of their lives remain the same or regress under ‘peace’. If we look at some of the indicators which determine if people’s lives have got better (health, education, social welfare, mental health, and crime), there is little evidence that much has changed since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Such is the sensitivity of this topic that a research paper prepared by the Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Library Service which tracked some of these indicators was withdrawn from the official website. Continue reading