Dick Spring


This address asserts that in seeking to resolve the political dilemma of Northern Ireland, the lesson of the U.S. Constitution is particularly relevant. The root of the political conflict in Northern Ireland is that, unlike in America, no consensus exists as to fundamental constitutional principles or the idea that the source of political authority is legitimately derived from the “consent of the governed.” The author argues that there is little hope of accommodation between the unionist and nationalist communities as long as the symbols of sovereignty and the structures of government administration serve or express the partisan agenda of one side only, whether unionist or nationalist. The principle of the consent of the governed, which is central to the U.S. Constitution, is the golden thread which may guide Northern Ireland out of the labyrinth.