While open hostilities in Northern Ireland ceased with the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the agreement itself did not succeed in mitigating the antagonistic relationship between nationalist Catholics and unionist Protestants. It is the central contention of this paper that the consociational nature and scope of the agreement actually contributed to the consolidation of cleavages and the reinscription of existing identities in Northern Ireland, because of consociationalism’s emphasis on elite democracy. While many scholars thus argue for a more transformative approach, which seeks to change conflict structures and crosscut cleavages on a grassroots level, this paper will argue that the identities in Northern Ireland are so deeply entrenched and defined in contrast to each other, that such approaches are both futile and ineffective. Transformative approaches are thus hindered by the nature of the antagonistic identities in Northern Ireland and their relations to each other, as well as by the advancement of elite-driven consociational democracy.

MICK KUNZE is currently in his third year of the pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Social Justice & Peace Studies at King’s University College at Western University. His primary research interests lie in critical theory and postmodernism, in particular with reference to (non)violence in social movements.