Power-Sharing and Political Reform in Northern Ireland: A Simulation

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Northern Ireland - Stormont Building

The signing of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement in 1998 is seen by many as marking the end of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which – during a 30-year period – claimed the lives of over 3,500 people. Central to the Agreement was the creation of a set of regional power-sharing institutions. The checks and balances within these institutions promoted peace but also generated significant governing and policy-making challenges. This web-based case addresses these issues. It covers the following: history of Northern Ireland and The Troubles; the main features of the region’s power-sharing institutions and political parties; key political and governance problems facing the region; and recent socio-demographic change.

The case is designed to provide students with the briefing materials required for an in-class simulation, but it can also be used for a traditional case discussion. In the simulation, students take on the role of advising one of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties. Working in advisory groups, students are tasked with developing recommendations for their assigned party on whether to preserve, reform, or replace central elements of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing institutions.