‘Moving On’: The Politics of Shared Society in Northern Ireland


  • Cillian McGrattan

    1. University of the West of Scotland
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    • Cillian McGrattan is Lecturer in Politics at the University of the West of Scotland. He is the author of Northern Ireland, 1968–2008: The Politics of Entrenchment (Palgrave, 2010) and Haunted by History: Memory, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland (Palgrave, forthcoming).


Debates over the direction of the Northern Irish peace process have moved from decommissioning and all-party inclusion to community relations and whether society is becoming more or less integrated and shared. This article contends that what is missing from this debate is consideration of the fact that a process of de-politicisation is occurring – specifically, inspired by a progressivist imperative, political discourse and engagement are increasingly moving from the public sphere to more privatised concerns. I argue that that vision does not speak to the trauma of the past and that the silencings, limitations, and dilemmas it leads to are most lucidly seen in recent Northern Irish drama productions. I conclude by sketching an alternative ethical vision based on an attachment to remembering historical injustices and a repudiation of the social pressure to draw a line under the past.