From Partition to Brexit

The Irish Government and Northern Ireland

By Donnacha Ó Beacháin

From Partition to Brexit

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2279-7
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: September 2018
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Politics, Ireland, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Nationalism & Patriotism, Ireland, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Terrorism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, Society & social sciences / Terrorism, armed struggle, Armed Conflict, Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict, Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Peace studies & conflict resolution, Northern Ireland, RELIGION / Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Peace, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Imperialism


From Partition to Brexit is the first book to chart the political and ideological evolution of Irish government policy towards Northern Ireland from the partition of the country in 1921 to the present day. Based on extensive original research, this groundbreaking and timely study challenges the idea that Irish governments have pursued a consistent set of objectives and policies towards Northern Ireland to reveal a dynamic story of changing priorities. The book demonstrates how in its relations with the British Government, Dublin has been transformed from spurned supplicant to vital partner in determining Northern Ireland's future, a partnership jeopardised by Britain's decision to leave the European Union. Informed, robust and innovative, From Partition to Brexit is essential reading for anyone interested in Irish or British history and politics, and will appeal to students of diplomacy, international relations and conflict studies.


'Enthralling, insightful and meticulously researched. Anyone who wants to understand how successive Irish Governments have engaged with Northern Ireland should read it.'
Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach, 1997-2008, key negotiator of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements

'Brilliant, lucid and thought-provoking - required reading for anyone who wants to understand relations between these islands and the importance of the Border.'
David McCullagh. Presenter of the current affairs television programme Prime Time, and Political Correspondent with RTÉ News

'successfully expose[s] . the true extent of the [Irish Government's] ambivalences and inconsistencies, using an impressive wealth of archival material in both Britain and Ireland unavailable to an earlier generation of researchers.'
Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Times, 5 January 2019

'The book is superb for anyone who wants to know why Ireland is where it is now and how the two parts of Ireland have treated each other for nigh on to a century.'
Frank MacGabhann, Irish Examiner, 23 February 2019

'Ó Beacháin has broken new ground and provided a useful map for a generation of political scientists and historians.'
Seán Donlon (former Secretary-General of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs), History Ireland, March-April 2019

'Ó Beachain's familiarity with the subject and impressive archival research deserves recognition for composing a text that is both enjoyable and informative . This book offers a concise and engaging narrative of the evolution of Irish government policy towards Northern Ireland . Ó Beacháin's sharp wit and eye for an entertaining quotation penetrates the weighty subject matter with great success'
Aaron Ó Maonaigh, The Irish Story

'Donnacha Ó Beacháin's lively, illuminating and occasionally tendentious study.provides not only a new perspective on the history of Northern Ireland, but also a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings and identity crises of the Irish government itself. It is particularly valuable for explaining the path that Dublin took from impotent onlooker to key participant in the peace process, and for the clarity with which it explains the competing pressures shaping Dublin's policies at key moments. It will be essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the full sweep of Northern Ireland's troubled near-century of existence.'
Professor Mark Doyle, Middle Tennessee State University, USA, Irish Studies Review, June 2019

'Ó Beacháin has made good use of governmental papers and political party archives and he has conducted interviews with a wide range of Irish and British politicians. He has marshalled these sources into a text that is admirably clear and informative . Brexit has raised profound questions regarding the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as the relationship between Ireland and Britain. How the Irish government attempts to answer these questions will play a part in shaping the futures of both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Given the fine manner in which Ó Beacháin has explained the Northern Ireland policies of successive Irish governments, he would be ideally placed to write the next chapter of that history.'
Small States and Territories



Winner of the Political Studies Association of Ireland's 2019 Brian Farrell book prize


Introduction: Parties and policy making in Ireland
1 The politics of partition, 1920-1932
2 De Valera's Northern Ireland policy, 1932-1948
3 Failed campaigns, 1948-1969
4 War, 1969-1974
5 In fear of Armageddon, 1974-1979
6 Totality of relationships, 1980-1992
7 The age of consent, 1992-2018
Appendix 1: A century of government in Ireland, 1919-2018
Appendix 2: Key personalities


Donnacha Ó Beacháin is Associate Professor of Politics at the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University

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