“Insuring Peace: British Intervention in Northern Ireland After the Belfast Peace Agreement”
This work examines the political transformations in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Peace Agreement of 1998 ended 30 years of conflict between the country’s Protestant, Unionist and Catholic, Nationalist communities. This analysis fills in what was a missing chapter of the current academic story, the role of the British government in maintaining peace and stability in the years immediately following the signing of the Agreement. Drawing on a perspective from Economics, the work explains how the British government provided something like insurance for the peace process by stepping in to govern each time the Catholic and Protestant parties reached an impasse. This British "insurance" protected peace and prosperity, shielding the Northern Irish from the consequences of increasingly uncompromising political stances, but in the process also unintentionally encouraged individuals to vote for those uncompromising stances—an insurance phenomenon known as "moral hazard." This idea of British insurance helps explain a series of unusual phenomena that followed the Belfast Agreement, including the peaceful rise of radical parties that displaced the more moderate parties that had helped craft the agreement, and the phenomena of increasing prosperity that seemed to counter intuitively track increasing political instability. In the end, the British interventions played a crucial role in eventually bringing together Northern Ireland’s two most radical parties in negotiations that created a more stable peace through the St. Andrew’s Agreement.