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The Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol: Responding to Tensions or Enacting Opportunity?

Northern Ireland faces serious predicaments from Brexit. Those problems and their causes are well documented. Notwithstanding those factors, this paper considers a more nuanced, forward-looking perspective.

This paper argues that the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol (hereafter the Protocol) now provides major opportunities to build and develop the economic future of Northern Ireland.

In summary:

  1. The Protocol creates unique opportunities to sustain peace underpinned by shared prosperity.
  2. There are evident political and social tensions to be tackled.
  3. Pragmatic political resolve can find solutions to unlock those opportunities and tackle present tensions. The removal of the latter reinforces the former.

The opportunities for Northern Ireland, Great Britain (GB) and Ireland, are contingent upon parallel factors: (i) the outcome of present UK and EU negotiations; and (ii) the role of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (GFA) institutions in framing and invigorating the next stage of a sustainable peace dividend.

Delivering on the long-term opportunities depends on choices made by political actors, the business sector and civic society. Despite the disruption caused by Brexit, the Protocol provides conditions for economic and social growth and revival. Peace can and will be bolstered by shared social prosperity and sustainable economic growth. Strategic leadership is now required.

Download the full report: Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol: Responding to Tension or Enacting Opportunity (PDF 1.5MB)

Report authors:

Professor Peter Shirlow, Director, Institute of Irish Studies
Michael D’Arcy
Alison Grundle
Jarlath Kearney
Professor Brendan Murtagh, Professor of Urban Planning, Queen's University Belfast

We call for mature reflection and the use of dialogue, evidence and debate to advance the peace process.

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