Our focus in this Article is not predominantly on the doctrinal intricacies of the constitutional framework in Northern Ireland. In fact, while we acknowledge the considerable sophistication of that framework, one of our contentions is that an overly legalistic focus on the shape and forms of constitutional architecture masks key questions concerning the broader political and ideological role of constitution-making. We will argue that the particular exigencies of constitution-making in a post-conflict society require a broader understanding of the notion and role of constitutional law. We attempt to trace the source of constitutional ideas in the jurisdiction, and the role of constitutional and legal structures as public symbols, which chart the transition from violence. Part I of this Article considers the role of factors indigenous to the Northern Ireland conflict, which shaped the constitutional settlement, including the political fault lines and the changing view of the law among some of the key protagonists. Part II analyzes the international influence on the constitutional settlement, including the previous U.S. Administration, the European Union ("EU"), the European Convention of Human Rights ("ECHR"), and the strategy of "internationalizing" particularly difficult issues (such as weapons decommissioning), which were arguably beyond the political capacity of the local participants to agree upon among themselves. Part III considers the respective constitutional discourses of the governments of the UK (in particular, the commitment of the Labour Administration to the devolution of power), and the Republic of Ireland, which assumed the responsibility as stewards of the negotiation and implementation phases. Part IV then contrasts the current constitutional settlement with its historical antecedents, and considers how thinking of constitution-making as a process, which takes us "beyond the constitutional moment," and enhances our understanding of the role of constitutions in the art of peacemaking.
Kieran McEvoy and John Morison,
Beyond the "Constitutional Moment": Law, Transition, and Peacemaking in Northern Ireland,
26 Fordham Int'l L.J. 961
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol26/iss4/5