Northern Ireland and the Antimonies of Unionism


Unionism swept back to power in the United Kingdom in December 2019 in a new Conservative government whose Prime Minister is also Minister for the Union. It committed itself to swift withdrawal from the European Union, with the likely effect of weakening the Union with Scotland and with Northern Ireland. Meanwhile unionism in Northern Ireland – in the form of the Democratic Unionist Party – has already undermined the union by its support for – and eventual betrayal by – hard-line British Conservatism. Why unionisms – which promise progressive and flexible politics – have such effects is the topic of this article. (This is the theme of a Special Issue of Irish Political Studies, edited by Jennifer Todd and Dawn Walsh, to be published in 2020. See Todd 2019).


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