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Public attitudes toward partisan and neutral symbols in post-agreement Northern Ireland

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Publication details

JournalIdentities-Global studies in culture and power
DatePublished - 2003
Issue number1
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)83-108
Original languageEnglish


Using original data from the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, this article assesses public attitudes toward key issues of symbolism intimately connected with the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process. It uses public attitudes toward the symbolic expressions of Northern Ireland's politico-religious blocs as indicators of the extent of intercommunity tolerance in the delicate post-Belfast Agreement period. Survey questions on attitudes toward flags, including the idea of a new flag for Northern Ireland; loyalist and republican murals; and memorials to the dead of the conflict, including the idea of a memorial for all of the victims of the conflict, reveal that partisan attitudes toward communal symbols of identity and commemoration persist, despite macro-level political changes heralded by the 1998 peace accord. It is argued that the consociational design of the Belfast Agreement facilitates the perpetuation of the single-identity politics of Irish nationalism and Ulster unionism. In this context, public attachment to partisan symbols remains strong.

    Research areas

  • symbols, memorials, flags, Northern Ireland, peace, conflict

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