Nationalism and transnationalism: the national conflict in Ireland and European Union integration

Goodman, James (1995). Nationalism and transnationalism: the national conflict in Ireland and European Union integration. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study poses the question of why national conflicts persist in the context of increasing transnational integration. From the early 1970's and especially since the end of the 'Cold War', nationalism has gained increased global significance. At the same time, seemingly hand-in-hand with the upsurge in nationalism, there has been an acceleration in transnational integration.

This apparent paradox is explored in several ways: first by developing a theoretical framework for linking nationalism and transnationalism, second by analysing a particular case of national conflict in its transnationalised setting, and third by investigating the interpretation and re-interpretation of 'national' interests by key political actors.

The case chosen is the national conflict in Ireland in the context of transnational integration in the European Union. In Ireland the two global tendencies - of national division and transnational integration - are focussed to a high degree of intensity. The transnational integrative process is at its most advanced in the European Community which, in 1993, became the 'European Union', one of the most ambitious examples of inter-state and trans-state regional integration to date. The national conflict in Ireland meanwhile, is more deeply entrenched than in any other Western European state and was, until the IRA ceasefire on 31 August 1994, the most highly militarised conflict in Western Europe.

This study suggests that the relationships between transnational integration and national conflict are becoming a defining factor in Ireland's political development and that such relationships also pattern developments in the wider EU. Indeed, to the extent that the process of EU integration is seen as an antidote to nationalism in Western Europe, the impact of the EU in Ireland's national conflict could be interpreted as a test case of EU integration.

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