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Project: Effects of the Peace Process on Research on
Northern Ireland

Report to the Central Community Relations Unit

March 1997

Authors : Dr Maurice Stringer & Dr Ian Martin Cornish

This project is part funded by the European Regional
Development Fund.


1. Project Overview
2. Effects of the Peace Process:
(Researchers Questionnaire)
Projects on Peace Process
Projects on Violence
Projects on Politics & Law
Projects on Economics
Projects on Comparative Research
New Project Areas
Funding/Resource Changes & Collaboration
Influence of Other Post-Conflict Situations
Appendix 1: Summary of Quantitative Results
Appendix 2. Researchers Questionnaire
Register of Research
Draft Entries

Project Overview

The project had two main aims, firstly to examine the impact of the Peace Process on the nature and type of research being carried out on Northern Ireland and secondly to update the Register of Research previously compiled by the Centre for the Study of Conflict in 1993. The faltering nature of the Peace Process over the grant period necessitated significant alterations to the scope of the first project and a concentration on successful completion of the second.

In addition to problems caused primarily by the constantly changing nature of the Peace Process our Research officer had to be replaced, leading to the loss of several months of progress. His replacement then suffered a breakdown, possibly aided by our attempts to redress the balance of outstanding work. The extended nature of the project in itself caused problems with researchers being contacted over a period of over six months via two questionnaire postings and extensive telephone contacts by differing individuals.

In summary, it became clear that the nature of the Peace Process itself which limped along painfully over the grant period mitigated against any thorough examination of its effects on research. Part one of the report which outlines researchers replies must therefore be treated with caution, since the majority of respondents did not complete the questionnaire. Despite this, the results present a qualitative insight into those areas which were most effected by the Peace Process.

Updating the Register of Research of Research therefore became the main goal of the project with most effort being expended upon it. In comparative terms the 1993 register included approximately six hundred entries. To date we have collected over eight hundred entries of which approximately 500 have been initially processed and are appended. Processing of entries to ensure uniformity of information and layout and cross-indexing of sources will continue until June 1997 when the final draft of the report and register will be produced.

Effects of the Peace Process: Researchers Questionnaire


The researchers questionnaire was designed to gather data about the effects of the Peace Process on research on Northern Ireland. For the purposes of the questionnaire, the Peace Process was defined as the political discussions and reduced level of violence in Northern Ireland since the paramilitary cease-fires in 1994. Given the faltering nature of the Peace Process over the study period, we felt it necessary to acknowledge this explicitly while informing respondents that despite recent uncertainties we considered the Peace Process to still be in place.

To try to improve the response rate the researchers questionnaire was posted out to researchers along with the register update requests. In addition, to encourage responses the questionnaire was designed so that researchers could respond to simple yes/no or rating scale responses with space to elaborate if required. The table below lists the questions asked along with the quantitative responses requested (see appendix 2 for full questionnaire).

Questions: Effects of the Peace Process

(Response Type)
1. What has been the overall effect of the Peace Process on your
2. Have any projects in which you have been involved ended due to the Peace Process?
3. Have any new initiatives started as a result of the Peace Process?
4. Do you intend to follow any new lines of research in the future as a result of the Peace Process?
5. Have any projects not described under 2 or 3 above been influenced by the Peace Process?
6. Have any funding or resource changes occurred due to the Peace Process?
7. Have any changes in collaborating individuals or institutions occurred as a result of the Peace Process?
8. Have you experienced pressure or encouragement to alter your research due to the Peace Process?
9. Have you made use of, or been influenced by, research conducted on post-conflict situations.
10. Other comments: Please note any areas which may not have been covered which you feel are important.
Key: None at all - Very Substantial (1-7) Y/N: (Yes/No)


The overall response rate to the researchers questionnaire was disappointing. Despite putting the questionnaire first and making it easy to respond to, many respondents ignored it and simply returned the second register questionnaire. Follow-up phone calls aimed primarily at eliciting further information about the register questionnaire revealed that the majority of researchers either felt that the Peace Process was in limbo or that it had had no impact upon their research. Despite the limited nature of replies to the researchers questionnaire (n= 109) those respondents who did reply gave a valuable (through limited) insight into the effects of this period. The responses are presented by question with tables of examples chosen to illustrate major categories of reply. Appendix 1. gives a summary of the main quantitative results.

Overall Effect of the Peace Process on Research (Q.1)

The Peace process had a significant impact on research in five main areas: research on the Peace Process itself; research on violence research on politics and the law; Research on the Economic Consequences of Peace and Comparative research . Each of these areas is examined in turn and examples of the major projects outlined.

The Peace Process

Four projects directly studying the Peace Process or issues related to it were rated by researchers as being significantly effected by the Peace Process (defined as a response of 6 or 7 on the scale). These included projects on :the peace process itself; a television series; a community reconciliation conference and a workshop on managing change in a diverse society. Twelve other projects reported significant effects of the Peace Process on their work. The table below indicates the projects and the main effects that the peace process has had on them.

Table 1. Projects Directly on the Peace Process (or Related to it)

The peace process (7)has become a major focus of my research interests, both as a process in its own right and for its impact on other research topics I am interested in. I have researched the peace process itself, and also the relationship between the peace process and the relationship between the Republican movement and the Irish-Catholic working class community
Television Series series
'Off the Walls'(6)
The Peace Process/cease-fire very much influenced the shape and content of the series the emphasis switched from an analysis of the conflict to a more optimistic outlook on alternatives for the future
Community and Reconciliation:. The Future of Peace in N.I. (6) Conference brought about by Peace Process
Managing Change In a Diverse Society(6) A Workshop for Political Leaders from Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland and Great Britain
Stress in the Northern Ireland Fire Service during the 'troubles' and Peace(5) I surveyed the NIFB in order to compare experiences during peace and during civil disturbance
Northern Ireland Peace Forum Elections (5) i) Requests to collaborate on comparative projects; ii) Requests to brief Irish-American business executives ; iii) Requests to talk with civil servants.
Research on community relations (5)I have been interested in tracing whether the nature of this work has changed in the new era of "peace".
Social work education and practice(5)Encouraged myself and colleagues to begin to understand consequences of the Peace Process in relation to social work practice.
Research on class, culture and conflict in County Tyrone (5) The Peace Process has added an extra dimension to my research. I am beginning to investigate developments of civil society in this region - especially the development/elaboration of civil society across the religious divide and among middle class entrepreneurs/business people west of the Bann.
Sport and community relations (5)It gave a little more impetus to the work I was doing on NI. Opened up travel to previously 'risky' areas of NI.
Baseline study for Peace and Reconciliation (4) This has opened the opportunity for research in prescriptive themes on how to imbed peace in areas of high tension and conflict.
Project on Open Learning n & W Belfast (4) It took me into areas of W Belfast and N Belfast that several years ago I would not have entered. In -other words the peace process opened up opportunities as far as I was concerned.
Research on rural conflict (4)It made fieldwork easier and facilitated openness in qualitative interviews. The breakdown of the cease-fires made it more difficult to achieve this degree of penetration.
The role of mass media in mediating the Northern Ireland conflict (4) The peace process has afforded an opportunity to assess/consider the changing role of the Media. A book review, article and a comprehensive review of media-related research have been completed.
Review of fair employment legislation (4) The context of the Peace Process did assist me in a piece of research I undertook on behalf of SACHR.
'Women's Studies'(4).I have noticed a growing interest in the local history and heritage of craft skills, specifically needleskills, these being reinterpreted practically as part of various programmes, some of them cross community


Four projects involving violence were rated by researchers as being significantly effected by the Peace Process (defined as a response of 6 or 7 on the scale). These included projects on political violence and the law; domestic violence; database of deaths by area and the Irish Republican army. The Table below indicates the projects and summary of the main effects of the Peace Process.

Table 2. Violence Projects Significantly Effected by the Peace Process

Project Title/Area (& rating)
Political Violence and the Law in N. Ireland (7) Increase in Interest/ Effected timing of publications
Domestic Violence research(7)Women were more able to call the RUC and the RUC were more likely to respond to calls
Database of Deaths by Area (7)Effects of the Troubles on general population a new qualitative field study
Irish Republican Army: An Assessment of Sectarianism (6) Much easier to interview people; less intense atmosphere

Politics & Law

Four projects involving Politics and Law were rated by researchers as being significantly effected by the Peace Process (defined as a response of 6 or 7 on the scale). These included projects on Research on the Woman's Coalition; Impact on Unionist Political thought; American Foreign policy towards N. Ireland and Law and constitutional maintenance. A further three projects were somewhat effected (5). The Table below indicates the projects and the main effects that the peace process has had on them.

Table 3. Politics and Law Projects Significantly Effected by the Peace Process

Project Title/Area (& rating)
NI Women's Coalition (7)Women formed the coalition, stood for election and are now part of the negotiating team and the Forum. Research increase
Impact on Unionist Political thought (7) Changes to traditional Unionist positions and thought due to the Peace Process
American Foreign Policy Toward N. Ireland (7) Revise a recent published article and rethink the approach of my book
Law & Constitutional maintenance (7) My research has concentrated on the meta constitutional dimensions of the conflict and how the state has responded to it.
Research on Public Bodies and Administration (5) As a result of the peace process there appears to have been an increased interest in future administrative structures. I believe that the high response rate we received was partly a result of this greater interest.
Political negotiation in Violent ethnic conflict. (5) The research project on negotiations has greatly increased in significance with the opening of the 1996 talks
Implications of the Framework documents (5) Consideration of cross-border bodies and their implications for the functional areas


Five projects involving the Economics were rated by researchers as being significantly effected by the Peace Process (defined as a response of 6 or 7 on the scale). These included projects on the impact of the European Common Market on integration; a number of related projects assessing the impact of the Peace Process by the N.I.E.C.; a project on Transport and the Troubles ; a Multi-community Rural Development project and a Peace & Reconciliation Programme for District partnerships. Three other projects reported smaller impacts on their work (4-5). The Table below indicates the projects and the main effects that the peace process has had on them.

Table 4. Economic Projects Significantly Effected by the Peace Process

Project Title/Area (& rating)
Impact of European Common Market on integration (7) Focus on impact on communities North and South of the Border
Northern Irish Economic Council (7)Almost all of the NIEC: work involves assessment of aspects of the NI economy. This has necessarily involved an assessment of the effect of the 'peace process The AIEC held a seminar specifically on the economic effects of 'peace' from which the proceedings were published and also a specific report on the economic effects of 'peace' was published
Transport & Troubles (7)Ulster Folk & Transport Museum / More interest in our subject area and collections from Southern Ireland and GB.
Multicommunity Stategic Planning for Rural Development (5) Involvement in sub programme of the EU
Peace & Reconciliation Programme for District partnerships (4) ongoing project given new impetus
Economic Development & NI Manufacturing database (4) 1. clearly the implication of the Peace Process would be substantial and greatly affect future projections for the NI economy -
2. the short-term the increase in Tourism had a marked effect on the local economy

Comparative Research

Three projects involving Comparative Research were rated by researchers as being significantly effected by the Peace Process (defined as a response of 6 or 7 on the scale). These included projects on: a comparison of peace process in N. Ireland, South Africa and the Middle East; testing theories of conflict and state regulation of political violence. Two other projects were somewhat effected (4-5). The Table below indicates the projects and the main effects that the peace process has had on them.

Table 5. Comparative Research Projects Significantly Effected by the Peace Process

Comparison of peace process in N. Ireland, South Africa and the Middle East (7) New impetus to project
Testing theories of ethnic conflict (6) Provided an opportunity test theories in a predictive, rather than post-hoc sense
State regulation of Political violence in N.I, Sri Lanka and Palestine /Israel(7) New impetus to project
NI & South Africa: comparisons and connections (5) I have written a number of journal articles on the peace process as well as several pieces for magazines.
Comparative studies of South African Peace Process (4) Stimulus to carry out comparative studies

Questions (2- 5) Have any projects ended or new initiatives or new lines of research started as a result of the Peace Process?

Only a single project was reported as having ended because of the Peace Process, namely the Baseline Study of the Special Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland in the Border Counties of Ireland. All other comments in this section referred to changes to publications in progress (i.e. Revised version of "The Irish Question in British Politics", 1868-1996). A greater response was recorded for new projects which started as a result of the Peace Process. The largest category here was a noted increase in comparative research in conflict settings. Table 6. lists the major areas noted by researchers:

Table 6. Showing New Project Areas as a Result of the Peace Process

Social inclusion in Derry: Submission to the Urban Regeneration Sub-programme of Peace and Reconciliation Programme.

Research on increased involvement of women in mainstream political life

Survey of votes in Forum Elections

Comparative research

1. work which looks at Northern Ireland, Israel and South Africa in the aftermath of their respective peace initiatives

2. Comparison of peace processes in NI, Sri Lanka and Palestine/Israel. (Possibly South Africa).

3. A study of the role of peace/conflict resolution organizations in Northern Ireland, South Africa and Israel/Palestine

Research, on the effects of the troubles

Ulster-Scots language movement developments

Project on Fundamentalism

UNISON involvement in Peace and Reconciliation

Action research project in North Belfast with the North Belfast Community Development Centre.

A sociological examination of attitudes to, and interpretation of, the Peace Process in two sectarian communities

A report for the Carnegie Commission on the Prevention of Deadly Conflict, (Washington, DC)

A number of researchers listed planned projects which have been influenced by the Peace Process these are listed below:

Table 7. Other Projects Influenced by the Peace Process

Social inclusion and conflict in urban and rural communities
Differences in women's help-seeking behaviour in relation to domestic violence following the cease-fires.
Collection of material on Railways and the Troubles
Interview study of members of the Peace People - to determine how their experiences relate to current problems of maintaining a momentum for peace
A study to examine why some Republicans give up the gun in changing circumstances.
Analysis of current talks and of 1994-96 talks about talks
Developmental work is taking us into the field of political education and the examination of alternative political structures with young people

Funding / Resource Changes (Q. 6) & Collaboration (Q.7)

On the positive side, researchers reported that there were increased opportunities for both comparative programmes and involvement in European Networks. Greater access was also reported for Peace and Reconciliation programmes. Funds for travel and funds for survey work (non-governmental/public sector funds) were reported to be more readily available. On the negative side new funding was reported as being targeted more at grass roots levels with new research proposals being required to take account or seek partnership with the commumty and voluntary sectors. In addition, a perception of cutbacks due to security expenditure was evident from responses in a number of questionnaires.

Pressure/Encouragement (Q .7)

The major response categories here reflected a growing pressure towards more comparative work (e.g. in Canada and the United States) and collaboration with external and sister institutions and through European networking. University and political pressure was reported to be behind developments in the N.I. Women's Coalition. Institutions and groups were perceived as being generally more open to collaboration and sharing of information.

The government and the Northern Ireland office were reported to be showing a desire to be more accessible which parallels reports of generally easier access to institutions.

Influence of Other Post-Conflict situations (Q.8)

A number of researchers reported a growing influence of post-conflict research particularly South African examples which can be seen from the Table of examples below which summarises responses. It appears that South Africa represents for researchers one of the best examples of a post-conflict situation for use in Northern Ireland.

Table 8 . Post-Conflict Situations Main Areas of Influence (Africa)

South Africathe break-up of the townships - housing and planning
South Africawritings on the transition by Horrowitz, Giliomee and others have stimulated examination of parallels with NI.
South AfricaI have been looking at a number of examples and the concern with "decommissioning" led me to study UN findings on this - very interesting.
South AfricaGeneral interest in comparisons with N.I.
South Africa/Israel/Palestine - ongoing collaborations
South AfricaI am interested in some philosophical analyses on comparable situations (also Israel. Palestine)
South AfricaEspecially research on
South AfricaThe project has links with educators in S.A the Middle East and Bosnia. The TV series directly draws on parallels with the Middle East.
South AfricaResearch on demilitarisation, political prisoners, peace-building
South AfricaAll of the projects have been calling on transitional phases in S.A. the Middle East, Central America, and post-Marxist Eastern Europe
South AfricaI have been doing some comparative work on Sport and Community in the 'new' S.A..
South Africaexamination of work in S.A.
South Africaand Bosnia.
South AfricaIntend to explore - S.A. /NI.
West Africaconflict, post-conflict and renewed conflict over history are significant elements, and post-colonial processes are likewise relevant.

Other Regions Mentioned

Malta /East Germany, PolandInterest in research findings from post-colonial advanced societies and from the post-Communist nations
Middle EastComparisons
Slovenia/ BosniaEuropean network - /Contact with Israeli academics
Palestineand Occupied Territories/ role of state planning and housing policy in responding to the reality of peace opportunities
Bosnia, & IsraelCynthia Cockburn's work with women from opposing ethnic groups
E. EuropePost-communist states/ changes
CanadaThe constitution and how it deals with ethnic conflicts

Other Comments (Q.9.)

Most of the open-ended responses reflected individuals general unease about the permanence of the Peace Process. Typical examples:

"The break-down in the peace process is significant - too many assumptions perhaps."
"Wish we were in a peace process!; I never believed there was 'peace' in any real and lasting sense. It was a 'necessary' nonsense"

And most aptly:
"Of course, you realise the outbreak of hostilities in July 1996 in Northern Ireland may make your survey very problematical?"

Other comments of note suggested that despite this general unease about the Process it had helped to open up institutions such as the police formerly 'closed' to research and the perceptions of peace helped to attract funding for projects and conferences that might have otherwise have been difficult to obtain.


While the questionnaire study undoubtedly suffered through being carried out during a period when respondents found it difficult to assess whether the Peace Process would be maintained, it nevertheless suggests the nature of the changes that can be expected if a more peaceful environment persists.

The main research areas effected by the Peace Process were those understandably focused on, or related to, the process itself; projects concerning political violence; politics and the law; economics and comparative research. A brief summary of each of these follows:

Projects on the Peace Process

The main effects were an increase in conferences and workshops on managing change; a reconsideration of the implications for community relations and social work practice of a more peaceful environment and a more general reported increase in access to hitherto risky areas of the Province for research.

Projects on Violence

Here again a general underlying effect of easier access and availability of traditionally difficult topics was apparent. The relationship between political violence and domestic violence and the law in the form of the RUC and legislation emerged as significant research themes.

Projects on Politics and Law

The main areas here revolved around potential changes to Unionist political thinking and administrative structures to take account of changing circumstances. A wider consideration of cross-border issues. American Foreign policy and the involvement of new political groupings such as the Woman's coalition was also evident.


Significant changes as a result of peace dominated the work of the NIEC with specific consideration of the economic effects of peace being actively researched. European initiatives appeared to stress cross-border implications and integration with a subsequent increase in district partnership programmes. The most notable practical short term effect was on tourism with increased interest also emerging in the related area of transport and the troubles.

Comparative Research

A marked effect was reported in comparative research, with the new situation providing fertile comparisons with other areas of conflict. The most notable area of post-conflict interest was South Africa which many researchers identified as a potential role model in comparative terms.

General Effects

A repeated emphasis on how the Peace Process had provided both easier access to, and a more open approach from, institutions and government bodies was evident. This was perceived as being highly valuable by researchers indicating a new spirit of co-operation and flexibility which reflected the general optimism engendered by the Peace Process in its earlier phases.

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