Aoife O’Donoghue

PI Panel at UACES 2020

The Performing Identities will (virtually) come together on Monday 7th September to lead a panel discussion at the UACES Virtual Conference 2020.

Initially planned to be happening in Belfast, the full conference has now moved to an online platform in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have planned a panel on the theme of Brexit and Northern Ireland, in which each member will outline some key aspects of the work being done within the Performing Identities project.

This will include the presentation of initial findings from interview-based research in Northern Ireland, and overviews of several forthcoming papers not yet in the public domain.

Central to our plans for the session is to provide a forum for informal discussion – on the work of the team, but also more generally on the topics being covered.

As a ‘non-traditional panel’ at the UACES conference, we had ambitious plans for this session in Belfast. While now proceeding in a virtual format, this remains a session not to be missed for anyone interested in Brexit and its impact in Northern Ireland!


Unfortunately, this panel is only open to registered participants of the conference, but we will be tweeting updates on the day from our account – @performidentity


Evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020

PI team members Sylvia de Mars, Colin Murray, Aoife O’Donoghue and Ben Warwick have submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights with regard to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020.

This submission focuses on Clause 2 of the bill, which relates to Irish citizens. In particular, it is highlighted that the omission within the Explanatory Notes of all reference to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement (GFA) is concerning.

Blog: Implementing the NI Protocol

Following the publication of the UK’s Command Paper on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, our team prepared several pieces of analysis.

Aoife O’Donoghue prepared an article for the DCU Brexit Institute Blog – ‘The UK’s Approach to Implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol‘ – which highlighted absences of detail in the document, reaching a conclusion that ‘this is unlikely to be the basis on which the EU will accept the implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.’

Colin Murray, also writing for the DCU Brexit Institute Blog, highlights ambiguities between the UK’s position and the commitments already signed up to in the Withdrawal Agreement. In Front-Foot Negotiations: The UK’s Proposed Implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol it is argued that the document exposes the UK’s weak position in the discussions, and that rather than bravado, a more realistic approach is necessitated.

Clare Rice prepared an article for The UK in a Changing Europe – ‘A road to nowhere? The UK’s approach to implementing the NI Protocol.’ This piece explored the potential intent behind the position the UK outlined on implementing the NI Protocol. It suggests the Command Paper indicates that Northern Ireland will likely become collateral damage as a consequence of political ambitions beyond its control.


For further analysis and immediate responses to developments as they happen, check out our Twitter – @performidentity


REPORT: ‘Continuing EU Citizenship “Rights, Opportunities and Benefits” in Northern Ireland after Brexit’

Four of PI’s team members – Colin Murray, Sylvia de Mars, Aoife O’Donoghue and Ben Warwick – have prepared one of two reports for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, examining challenges to citizenship rights in the context of Brexit.

Brexit therefore creates the potential for new and more extreme gaps in the rights and protections available to different groups of people living within Northern Ireland.

This report highlights a number of pre-existing complexities with regard to citizenship laws in Northern Ireland and examines the specific challenges these give rise to in the context of Brexit. A number of recommendations are made as to how these can be addressed.

The full report is available to download here: https://www.nihrc.org/publication/detail/continuing-eu-citizenship-rights-opportunities-and-benefits-in-northern-ireland-after-brexit

Prof O’Donoghue on BBC Breakfast


Prof Aoife O’Donoghue was on the BBC Breakfast couch on the 31st August explaining why prorogation of Parliament will so limit the room for manoeuvre of those opposed to the UK Governments plans. She discussed the prospects of the various legal challenges to prorogation as well as the Parliamentary processes that might result.

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CTA deal ‘a step in right direction but more needed’

Aoife O’Donoghue is quoted in this piece in the Irish News on the Common Travel Area agreement.

She said that the memorandum of understanding is a way of putting “Irish and UK citizens on a much firmer footing”. 

Although an international treaty would be “preferred”, Prof O’Donoghue said the new rules can be used by courts to interpret domestic legislation, including provisions in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. 

“There still remains a whole host of issues, especially for those living in Northern Ireland, but this is a positive step forward,” she said.

ICON Conference

The research team attended and presented at the ICON Society (UK and Ireland) conference hosted by the University of Strathclyde. The papers presented were titled:

de Mars, ‘Making it (Even) More Complex: Plucking Trade from its Nest’

Murray, ‘Futureland: Northern Ireland after Brexit’

O’Donoghue, ‘Life after Brexit: Referenda, International Law and Unifying Ireland?’

Warwick, ‘Disappearing Rights under the Draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement’

They will find their way into written and published form shortly!

Presentations by the Research Team

As the UK approached one of its Brexit deadlines, March and Early April proved a busy period for presentation gigs! The research team presented the following papers:

  • Murray, ‘The Strange Case of Disappearing Rights in the UK-EU Withdrawal Negotiations’, Leeds University, SLSA Annual Conference (5 April 2019).
  • Warwick, ’Northern Ireland as a Perpetual Outsider’, Leeds University, SLSA Annual Conference (4 April 2019).
  • O’Donoghue, ‘Lessons from Brexit’, Wolfson College, Cambridge (29 March 2019).
  • Warwick, ‘What’s so wrong with the backstop anyway?’, Institute of Advanced Studies, Birmingham, Intercontinental Academia Programme (19 March 2019). 
  • Murray, ‘Brexit and the Common Travel Area’ NUI Galway (7 March 2019).