Into the Unknown: Implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

A new article from PI’s Colin Murray and Clare Rice has been published in the Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland.

The paper examines the UK’s approach to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, focusing on pathologies of (mis)government and examining historical approaches to the management of trade between Great Britain and the island of Ireland.

The full journal is publicly available at this link, with Colin and Clare’s paper starting at pg. 17: http://crossborder.ie/site2015/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Final-Digital-Journal-Cross-Border-Studies.pdf

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).

A 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

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


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.

Blog: Northern Ireland’s ‘New Approach’ in a Decade of Uncertainty

What has changed since the 2019 General Election, and what does Brexit mean for the new deal that has been reached in Northern Ireland?

PI team member, Clare Rice, considers these questions in a new article published on the DCU Brexit Institute blog – available to read here: http://dcubrexitinstitute.eu/2020/01/northern-irelands-new-approach-in-a-decade-of-uncertainty/

General Election 2019 Coverage and Analysis

The PI team have been busy in the lead up to the General Election and in the days since, offering insight and analysis across a range of platforms.

Professor O’Donoghue has appeared on BFM Radio Malaysia and Today FM (Ireland).

Clare Rice has been involved in BBC coverage, appearing on Inside Politics, Sunday Politics, Good Morning Ulster, Evening Extra, Newsline, Newsnight, and the BBC News Channel.

Follow us on Twitter (@performidentity) for all the latest updates and links to catch up on our analyses!

LAUNCH: Interview Quotes and Animations

One of the core elements of the PI project was to compile a database of qualitative data on the themes of Brexit and identity in Northern Ireland. In order to do this, we completed a series of interviews with individuals across Northern Ireland between February 2019 and March 2020.

We have analysed these interviews, and have prepared an academic journal article presenting our findings, to be published in due course. In the interim, we are delighted to be able to share some initial findings with everyone.

A series of quotes have been selected from these interviews – some extremely poignant, others insightful, and all important in their own ways in offering insight to different aspects of identity in Northern Ireland.

These quotes have been voiced by actors and in collaboration with Roots and Wings design collective, we have produced a series of short animated clips. The aim of these is to give an insight to the diversity of perspectives and experiences we encountered.

In our 2-part event later this month, we will delve further into our data in relation to Brexit’s impact. Registration for the first session (where the full PI team will be coming together to present our work) is available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/performing-identities-brexit-and-northern-ireland-part-1-tickets-156666797609. Details for the second event – a panel discussion focussing on identity in Northern Ireland – will be announced in the coming days.

The full set of clips will be shared over the next few weeks on Twitter, and added to the website. Please follow this link to view the full collection.

We would like to extend our thanks once again to all those who took part in these interviews.

1 – Thoughts on the diversity of perspectives in Northern Ireland that contribute to what ‘identity’ means and how it is understood
2 – “This is who you are” Reflections on how outward expressions of identity and perceptions of others can be shaped by different factors
3 – On how perceptions of others can be shaped by things such as accent, words, and dress (particularly tops from different sports)
4 – “I think a lot of people do it here.” An account of how perceptions of identity can influence the way everyday interactions unfold
5 – How has the women’s movement navigated the challenges of historical division in Northern Ireland?
Reflections on how for members of the LGBTQ+ community, Northern Ireland and its politics can be difficult to navigate

EVENT: Performing Identities: Brexit and Northern Ireland

We are very excited to share that PI will be hosting a two-part event in June on the theme of Brexit and Northern Ireland.

Performing Identities: Brexit and Northern Ireland – Part 1

Wednesday 23rd June 2021 – 12.30-1.30pm (Online)

In this lunchtime seminar, PI team members will present key findings from the extensive catalogue of work completed as part of the ESRC-funded ‘Performing Identities’ project, as well as analysis of research that will be publicly shared for the first time.

This session will include work on citizenship and rights, multilevel governance, archival research and key findings from a series of interviews conducted as part of the project exploring identity and Brexit in Northern Ireland. The event will conclude with a Q&A.

Registration is now live and available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/performing-identities-brexit-and-northern-ireland-part-1-tickets-156666797609

The second event will take place the following day (Thursday 24th June) at 1pm – further details and registration information for this will be released soon. Keep an eye on the website and our Twitter account for further updates.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Article: ‘The Anglo-British imaginary and the rebuilding of the UK’s territorial constitution after Brexit: unitary state or union state?’

‘Territory, Politics and Governance’ has published an article co-authored by PI’s Colin Murray with Daniel Wincott and Greg Davies (both Cardiff University).

The Anglo-British imaginary and the rebuilding of the UK’s territorial constitution after Brexit: unitary state or union state?‘ presents a fascinating examination of the interaction between the Internal Market Act and conflicting understandings of the UK’s constitution.

“The need to replace European law as a foundation of the UK internal market, and the UK Government’s attempts to exert control over this transition, has produced a sustained debate about what the union means after Brexit.”

Wincott, Murray and Davies, 2021

The full paper is available to read here: https://rsa.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21622671.2021.1921613?src=#.YKPX8ahKjIV

A working version (freely available) can also be accessed here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3831946

BLOG: Examining the DUP in Northern Ireland

PI has contributed analysis to a number of outlets on recent developments within Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

In a week that saw a party revolt, the resignation of the First Minister and the announcement of the party’s first leadership campaign in its existence, the team have tweeted, written and spoken about events as they have unfolded.

PI’s Clare Rice was interviewed twice on the BBC News Channel, and prepared a blog analysing the situation for LSE Politics and Policy, available to read here.

Clare was also interviewed by France’s ‘Le Monde’ newspaper about the implications of the changes within the DUP for politics and power-sharing in Northern Ireland. A summary of her analysis was reported in this article: https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2021/04/29/en-irlande-du-nord-les-unionistes-en-crise_6078493_3210.html

The team will continue to share updates on all the latest developments in Northern Ireland on our Twitter – @performidentity

BLOG: Examining the Riots in Northern Ireland

PI’s Clare Rice has written an article examining some of the root causes that have led to rioting, protests and violence in Northern Ireland over recent weeks.

Published by the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, the piece highlights that a combination of multiple factors have contributed to these scenes, one of which has been the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The full article is available to read at this link: https://ukandeu.ac.uk/riots-in-northern-ireland-an-explanation/

PI at PSA Annual Conference 2021

The Political Studies Association’s annual conference kicks off on Monday 29th March. Intended to be held in Belfast, the event will be conducted entirely online in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Performing Identities will be presenting two papers over the coming days; very handily, both will be happening in the same session!

Clare Rice will be presenting a solo piece of research examining the implementations of identity and governance provisions agreed in Northern Ireland’s ‘New Decade, New Approach’ deal one year on.

The second will be a joint presentation from Clare Rice, Megan Armstrong and Ben Warwick, outlining some key findings from interviews completed in Northern Ireland on the theme of identity and Brexit.

For those attending the conference, these will be happening in Panel 919 on Wednesday 31st March (9am-10.30am).

Evidence Submission to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee ‘Citizenship and Passport Processes’ Inquiry

PI’s Colin Murray and Clare Rice have submitted evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee as part of the ‘Citizenship and Passport Processes in Northern Ireland’ Inquiry.

The submission examines some of the post-Brexit complexities that Brexit has given rise to in Northern Ireland for citizenship, particularly in relation to the provisions of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.

Their submission is available to download here:


This is a topic that the PI has also written extensively on, including a report for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. See ‘Continuing EU Citizenship “Rights, Opportunities and Benefits” in Northern Ireland after Brexit‘ for more analysis on this.

Evidence Submitted to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee – ‘Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol’ Inquiry

PI’s Colin Murray and Clare Rice have submitted evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in relation to its ‘Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol’ Inquiry.

This submission takes some initial stock of the early outworking of the Protocol in Northern Ireland, identifying some of the key challenges that have been faced and the reasons for these. It also examines Article 16 of the Protocol, and considers some practical and political dynamics around Article 18’s democratic consent provision for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Explainer: Article 16 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

In light of the challenges that have been seen with the Northern Ireland Protocol since it came into force on 1st January 2021, there have been calls for the UK Government to use Article 16 of the Protocol as a means to solving these issues.

The UK Government has been reluctant to take this step. But in the face of mounting pressure on the UK Government to use it, and increased discussion about it, the complexity of Article 16 has come under close scrutiny.

But what is Article 16, how does it work, and what does it mean?

PI’s Clare Rice prepared an explainer on this for UK in a Changing Europe. This concise guide is available to read in full here: https://ukandeu.ac.uk/explainers/article-16-of-the-northern-ireland-protocol/