A Constitutional Moment in the Island of Ireland

Friday, July 14, 2017
East Quad Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Jennifer Todd , School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin
My argument in this paper is that the present on the island of Ireland is potentially a constitutional moment where power change and identity change converge, akin to that long constitutional moment in Ireland in 1912-1922. In each part of the island of Ireland, there is significant potential for everyday change in older divisions of nationality and religion. Exogenous change – Brexit, Scotland, EU crises, migration and war – provide not just opportunity but necessity for such change. The decisions a hundred years ago set the frame for divisions in both parts of the island as well as between them. Now there is potential for change that can undermine those divisions. But there are blockages, institutional, political, and not least intellectual in our understanding of identity politics.In this paper I begin by showing how a reconceptualisation of identity politics can open the way to a more fruitful, powerful and positive analysis of the everyday potential for change in each part of Ireland.   My argument builds on a longer project  and I will give some snapshots of this in the first part of paper, to  draw out a dynamic picture of the contradictory trends North and South.  Second, I show some of the parallels with the earlier constitutional moment of 1912-22. And third, I look to the principles that can and should guide political action, and point to a way forward.
  • Constitutional moments 2017 glasgow version.pdf (333.3 kB)