Northern Ireland

The UK’s Internal Market Bill

The Internal Market Bill has been a source of much debate since its publication earlier in September 2020. The PI team has been busy analysing this, in real time on the project’s Twitter feed (@performidenty) and in a number of written pieces.

Colin Murray responded to the initial leak of the IMB’s contents ahead of its publication in a piece for the UK in a Changing Europe (available here), while Clare Rice prepared a blog examining the implications of the IMB for Northern Ireland for the DCU Brexit Institute blog (available here).

An short briefing paper on key aspects of the IMB for Northern Ireland is also available to view here on our website.


Follow us @performidentity for all our latest updates and analysis

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


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

Blog: ‘EU Citizenship Rights in Northern Ireland’

In a new article published on the UK in a Changing Europe blog, Colin Murray presents an overview of two reports published by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

The first report, authored by Alison Harvey, is entitled ‘A Legal Analysis of Incorporating Into UK Law the Birthright Commitment under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998’ while the second is entitled ‘Continuing EU Citizenship “Rights, Opportunities and Benefits” in Northern Ireland after Brexit’ and was authored by four PI team members (Colin Murray, Sylvia de Mars, Aoife O’Donoghue, Ben Warwick).

This article presents an overview of the key areas covered in these publications, and offers some explanation in the context of the DeSouza case.

This approach is, in itself, generating a rolling crisis in Northern Ireland’s governance, as one cause célèbre gives way to the next and everything seems to remain in flux. It remains to be seen how much of this buffeting Northern Ireland’s unique (and fragile) constitutional order can sustain.

Colin Murray, UK in a Changing Europe, April 2020

The article is available to read in full by clicking here.

Blog: ‘Governance in Northern Ireland: Learning from the ‘Cash for Ash’ Scandal

In a new article, written for the Political Studies Association (PSA) Blog, Clare Rice examines the fallout from the Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry and considers the implications of the Report’s recommendations for governance in Northern Ireland.

“The #CashforAsh scandal contributed to the unravelling of a complex political web which ultimately saw the collapse of political institutions and three years without a government.”

The full article is available to read here: https://www.psa.ac.uk/psa/news/governance-northern-ireland-learning-cash-ash-scandal

Evidence to Lords EU Select Committee

Colin Murray and Sylvia de Mars attended a meeting of the European Union Select Committee in the House of Lords on 11th February 2020, to give evidence on the revised Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol. Completing the panel was David Henig, called to share his expertise on trade.

Colin and Sylvia addressed a range of issues pertinent to the work of the Committee, drawing on their expert knowledge of EU law, UK constitutional law and the particularities of the situation in Northern Ireland.

This informative session was followed keenly by experts across the UK, not least in Northern Ireland (see this thread from BBC NI’s Economics and Business Editor, John Campbell), as the complexities that will need to be addressed by the end of 2020 were made unequivocally clear.

The full meeting is available to watch by following this link – https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/006d7a57-9cd7-474b-96ea-0773023c0582#player-tabs/p>

Alternatively, the Performing Identities Twitter account (@performidentity) will be sharing short clips from the meeting over the coming days along with some bite-size analysis and insight.

Briefing Paper: The ‘New Decade, New Approach’ deal in Northern Ireland – Governance and Identity

In January 2017, the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, tendered his resignation from the Northern Ireland Executive, citing issues around equality, trust and abuse of power on the part of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Following 3 years of institutional hiatus, during which civil servants assuming greater responsibilities ultimately prevented a return to direct rule, talks between the 5 main political parties, with a focus on negotiations between Sinn Féin and the DUP, recommenced following the Westminster General Election in December 2019. With the support of the Irish and UK Governments throughout the process, and a commitment to this being maintained thereafter, the text of an agreed document named ‘New Decade, New Approach’ was released to the general public on 9th January 2020.

This briefing presents an overview of the agreement reached and examines key aspects of its content, focusing on the elements addressing governance and identity.

The full paper is available to download below: