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Keywords:

  • austerity;
  • peace process;
  • Northern Ireland;
  • Unionism;
  • Nationalism;
  • loyalism

The steady drip of dissident Republican attacks forms the backdrop to this special issue of Political Quarterly. Moreover, this comes at a time of economic austerity, when Northern Ireland faces unprecedented cuts to its public sector-dominated economy. The economic crisis in the South adds an additional layer of uncertainty to the picture. In the past, economic deprivation has been associated with conflict in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Might the peace dividend and constitutional settlement which have underpinned the Northern Ireland ‘miracle’ since 1994 be under threat? Or is there now sufficient momentum in both of Northern Ireland's main ethnic communities that such an outcome can be safely averted? This paper summarises the thinking of our symposium and special issue on this topic, updating our picture of the Northern Ireland peace process.