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CONSTRUCTING A EUROPEAN IDENTITY IN NORTHERN IRELAND
LAUREN A. FACKENDER
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Lauren A. Fackender
To my parents, Chris Carmody and M. Leann Brown
I am forever grateful for your love and support.
I thank the chair and members of my supervisory committee for their mentoring
and all of the members of the Department of Political Science for their generous support.
I especially thank my parents, Chris Carmody and M. Leann Brown, for their love and
encouragement, which motivated me to complete my studies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENT S ... ... ...___ .. ....___ ............... 4.....
TABLE. ............... ............... 6...............
AB STRAC T ......_ _.............. ...........7........
1 INTRODUCTION ......... .............. .......... ...........
2 DISCOURSE ANALYSIS THEORY AND SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST
UNDERPINNINGS .............. ............15.. ...............
3 DISCOURSE LANGUAGE INT THE MAKING AND IMPLEMENTATION
OF PEACE II ............... ...........23............. ....
Overview. .......... ..... ... .. ...... ............. .. ..........2
The PEACE II Operation Manual: Emphasis on EU Involvement
and Identity Transformation. ............... .. ............ ............. 26
The PEACE II Operation Manual: Emphasis on Multiple
Identity Formation. ................ .......... ... .... .. .. ....... ....... 29
Implementation and Exploration of Successful Grant Applications...... .32
4 CONCLUSIONS ............... ............... 42..............
REFERENCE LIST ............... ............46.. ...............
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. ............. ..........48... ...............
2-1 PEACE II proj ect distribution under priority 2 ...... ......... .......... 33
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
CONSTRUCTING A EUROPEAN IDENTITY IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Chair: M. Leann Brown
Major Department: Political Science
The story of Northern Ireland is one of war and peace; the conflict has been
compared to Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Israel, colonial Algeria, or
even the war between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda. The two communities are not
only divided by the color of their flag and religions, but political allegiance almost
always coincide with religious identity. The Catholics are republicans and the Protestants
royalists, the former calling for the province's entry into the Irish Republic, the latter
wanting to remain in the United Kingdom.
Academics contend that the EU could play an important role in creating a form of
symbiotic cooperation on the island. The European Union's Special Support Program for
Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the six Border Counties of Ireland is
one such program. Known as PEACE, the structural adjustment program was created in
1994 to reinforce societal stability and to promote reconciliation. The PEACE initiative
includes as its goals various economic and social proj ects and possibly the construction
of a common EU identity. As the EU becomes a key player in the conflict, this
community involvement may directly or indirectly foster a shared sense of "European-
ness." Deliberately fostering the creation of an EU identity could play a role in shifting
identity associations from Protestant and Catholic and British and Irish to EU citizen. As
the drive towards European unity and integration erodes national borders and the notions
of sovereignty that underpin them, it is important to ask: To what extent did the EU
conceptualize Priority 2 of the PEACE program to include the construction of a European
identity as a solution to the conflict?
The analysis focuses on an examination of primary PEACE II data, specifically
the PEACE II Operation Manual, as it is the primary instrument of the Commission with
respect to the PEACE II initiative. In addition to the Operation Manual, successful
PEACE II grant proposals were examined to determine if the creation of a new identity is
reflected in funding requests which were ultimately accepted under PEACE II. This
investigation ultimately revealed that despite general references to identity building in the
PEACE II Operation Manual, the same language is noticeably absent from the grant
proposals that were accepted under PEACE II, Priority 2.
The story of Northern Ireland is one of war and peace; the conflict has been
compared to Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Israel, colonial Algeria, or
even the war between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda: "Unshackled by space or time,
[the Irish conflict] fascinates and disturbs."' The two communities are not only divided
by the color of their flag and religions, but political allegiance almost always coincide
with religious identity. The Catholics are republicans and the Protestants royalists, the
former calling for the province's entry into the Irish Republic, the latter wanting to
remain in the United Kingdom. Visible signs of the conflict remain: peace walls, barbed
wire fences separating Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, barred school windows
and murals depicting stories of a long-suffering people. On the Falls Road in Belfast,
British flags and painted sidewalks line the streets of the Protestant neighborhoods and
just 10 feet away, on the other side of the 15-foot barrier, Catholic communities proudly
showcase their Irish heritage. In fact, some scholars contend that the conflict "deeply
rooted in British-Irish history, is less one of religious strife than of conflicting national
identities in Northern Ireland."2
Identity conflicts have long been a part of the Northern Ireland genealogy. Prior
to 1922, the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. During the nineteenth
SThis quotation resonates with me, personally, because as a child I often heard stories about the conflict
from my aging Irish grandparents. I have always understood the conflict to transgress all ages, times, and
places. Courbage, Y. (1997). The demographic factor in Ireland's movement towards partition (1607-
1921). Population: 4n English selection, 9, 170.
SHayward, K. (2006). Reiterating national identities: The European Union conception of conflict resolution
in Northern Ireland. Cooperation and Conflict, 41, 269.
century, the movement for Home Rule in Ireland emerged as the most significant factor
in Irish political life. Faced with armed struggle both for and against Home Rule in the
two parts of the country, the British Government settled on partitioning Ireland. In 1921,
an independent twenty-six county Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland) was
established while a six-county Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom. In
1972, Direct Rule was imposed by Westminster and has been the primary source of
conflict in the proceeding years. The civil war has cost the United Kingdom more than
8 billion and has resulted in a death toll of more than 3,000 since 1969.3
Scholars often conceptualize the conflict in frameworks that have dominated the
analyses of ethnic conflict for decades, including democratic and market transitions and
globalization and security challenges. This paper, however, will take a new approach. It
will instead seek to explore identity associations and the European Union's (EU) role in
the conflict. Academics such as Paul Teague contend that the EU could play an
important role "in creating a form of symbiotic cooperation on the island whereby cross-
border economic links and political stability in a new Northern Ireland go hand-in-
hand"." The European Union's Special Support Program for Peace and Reconciliation
in Northern Ireland and the six Border Counties of Ireland is one such program. Known
as PEACE, the structural adjustment program was created in 1994 to reinforce societal
stability and to promote reconciliation.
SConflict and Politics in Northern Ireland. 29 Oct. 2006. CAIN Web Service. 29 Nov. 2006.
STeague, P. (1996). The European Union and the Irish peace process. Journal of Conunon Market Studies,
The first PEACE program was agreed to by the European Heads of State and
Government in December 1994 and was formally established in July 1995. The program
was allocated a total amount of 500 million (approximately 340 million) by the EU for
the period 1995-1999.5 Some 80% was spent in Northern Ireland and 20% in the Border
Counties of Ireland (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan, and Sligo).6 The
PEACE program was designed to involve people at the grassroots level and to focus on
those areas and sections of the population most affected by the conflict. It was given wide
scope for action, covering social inclusion, economic development and employment,
urban and rural regeneration, and cross border cooperation. PEACE I funded more than
13,000 proj ects across Northern Ireland. A large part of the funding was delivered
through local partnerships, voluntary and community groups.
Acknowledging the success of PEACE I and the continuing special needs
associated with the peace process, the European Council in March 1999 decided to
extend the program for an additional five years (2000-2004). Due to its success and
positive impact in Northern Ireland, PEACE II was again extended by the European
Union through 2005-2006. The most recent extension added over 144 million in
additional funding to the PEACE II proj ect. Total EU funding for PEACE II over the
years of 2000-2006 totaled more than 796 million with approximately 80% of the funds
allocated to proj ects in Northern Ireland (565.6 million).7 The resources provided by the
EU are in addition to other public expenditure in Northern Ireland. Together with match
5 PEACE Program (PEACEII). 17 Oct. 2006. Special European Union Programs Body. 29 Nov. 2006,
funding provided by the Government the total value of the program is worth around 425
million to Northern Ireland."
PEACE II is managed by the Special EU Programs Body (SEUPB), one of the six
North/South Implementation Bodies set up under the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement.
The specific aims of PEACE II are to assist Northern Ireland and the border region of
Address the legacy of the conflict;
and take advantage of opportunities arising from the peace process.
Within the overarching priority of promoting peace and reconciliation, the
PEACE II program has Hyve main themes:
0 economic renewal;
o social integration, inclusion and reconciliation;
o locally based regeneration and development;
o outward and forward-looking region;
o cross-border co-operation.
The European Commission is currently examining the possibility of extending
PEACE II through 2008 following a request from the European Council. At this critical
juncture, it is important to analyze the success of the PEACE II initiative and how the EU
has contributed to moving Northern Ireland towards peace and stability through the
creation of a common EU identity. Since the PEACE II goal structure set out by the EU
is purposefully broad for purposes of implementation, we will identify specific language
within the mission statement that is mostly likely to address the social, or identity, aspects
of the conflict. Taking the stated goals in their entirety would require a detailed study of
all aspects of the conflict. In an effort to break this paper down into a more manageable
analysis we will only address Priority 2: social integration, inclusion and reconciliation.
It is these concepts of social integration, inclusion and reconciliation that will
become a starting point for our analysis as we try to determine if the EU included
collective identity building as a goal under PEACE II, Priority 2. In recent decades, the
EU has not only become a powerful economic force in Northern Ireland but "a
formidable supranational political lever that [has] swayed the attitudes and behaviors of
all parties to the conflict".9 These activities may include various economic and social
proj ects and possibly the construction of a common EU identity. As the EU becomes a
key player in the conflict, this community involvement may directly or indirectly foster a
shared sense of "European-ness." Deliberately fostering the creation of an EU identity
could play a role in shifting identity associations from Protestant and Catholic and British
and Irish to EU citizen--which could be classified as reconciliation, integration and
inclusion between the two communities. As the drive towards European unity and
integration erodes national borders and the notions of sovereignty that underpin them, it
leads us to ask: To what extent did the EU conceptualize Priority 2 to include the
construction of a European identity as a solution to the conflict?
My analysis will focus on an examination of primary PEACE II data, specifically
the PEACE II Operation Manual, as it is the primary instrument of the Commission with
respect to the PEACE II initiative. In addition to the Operation Manual, successful
PEACE II grant proposals will also be examined to determine if the creation of a new
identity is reflected in funding requests which were ultimately accepted under PEACE II.
Through an in-depth discourse analysis, we will seek to ascertain if the EU has
interpreted social integration, inclusion and reconciliation to mean the promotion and
9 Stevenson, J. (1998). Peace in Northern Ireland, why now? Foreign Policy, 112, 41.
creation of a common EU identity in Northern Ireland. The analysis of the Operation
Manual and the accepted grant proposals will be broken down to determine if and how
EU involvement is conceptualized in the PEACE II initiative and whether it includes a
significant discourse regarding identity policy building. For, it would logically follow,
that if the EU defines social integration, inclusion, and reconciliation as a common
European identity then they will encourage EU involvement and identity policy building
as well as the funding of grassroots organizations who comply with similar obj ectives.
This investigation will ultimately reveal that despite general references to identity
building in the PEACE II Operation Manual, the same language is noticeably absent from
the grant proposals that were ultimately accepted under PEACE II, Priority 2.
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS THEORY AND
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST UNDERPINNINGS
The language of Priority 2 was left vague for purposes of implementation, giving
grassroots recipients of PEACE II funding ultimate control over proj ects to bridge
sparring Protestant and Catholic communities. The EU Special Programs Body defines
Priority 2 as "measures that target opportunities and needs in both urban and rural areas
across the region, paying particular attention to vulnerable groups and those most
affected by the conflict".'" In order to establish a more definitive understanding of what
the EU meant by Priority 2, and more specifically whether this definition includes a
common European identity, it will be important to explore the rhetoric that surrounds
discussion of reconciliation, integration and inclusion. Here the key question is neither
the prevalence nor the empirical demonstrability of reconciliation, inclusion and
integration in the current debates but rather the extent to which these terms are defined by
the construction of a common EU identity in the context of the PEACE II priorities.
Discourse theory is an appropriate starting point for our analysis as it seeks to
determine not what people say but rather how people engage in dialogue. This is a useful
approach as we will be trying to determine how the EU Special Programs Body has
talked about integration, inclusion and reconciliation and to what extent this conversation
encompasses rhetoric about a common EU identity. The underlying assumption of
discourse theory begins with the contention that things do not have meaning in and of
themselves, instead, they only become meaningful in discourse. Objects and subjects of
"' European Commission. ('I li14). EU Program for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the
border region oflreland. Brussels, Belgium: European Union.
knowledge such as "man," "reason," "sovereignty" and "civilization" change over time
as they enter into human, social life. In other words, integration, inclusion and
reconciliation conjure up different meanings depending on the context and present
communicative environment. In order to understand the meaning of these words in the
context of PEACE II we must cut into these web s of meaning and the discourse
Discourse can take a variety of forms but for the purposes of this study we will be
analyzing EU documents such as operating and oversight manuals and grant proposals.
These aspects of discourse can be classified as text "or moments when language
connected to other semiotic systems is used for symbolic exchange"." All texts are
located in key social institutions including families, schools, churches, workplaces, mass
media, government, and so on. Discourse consists of recurrent statements and workings
across fields of knowledge and belief and they can develop to serve institutional purposes
and projects. Discourse is pervasive and permeates all aspects of international
institutions such as the EU. Analyzing the discourse of these EU programs help to
remind us that institutions, while usually having some material presence (buildings,
records) are also congealed discourses (norms, beliefs, standard operating procedures).'
A task of contemporary discourse analysis is to theorize and study the micro-
politics of discourse, to examine actual patterns of language use with some degree of
detail and explicitness but in ways that reconnect instances of local discourse with salient
" Luke, A. (1996). Text and discourse in education: An introduction to critical discourse analysis. Review
ofResearch in Education, 21, 13.
12 Wincott, D. (I r'4). Policy change and discourse in Europe: Can the EU make a square meal out of a
stew of paradox? West European Politics, 27, 354-363.
political, economic, and cultural formations. That is, the task of a critical sociological
discourse and power are manifest in the everyday aspects of texts in use. Discourse is not
a linear process and the results are not top-down ideological manipulation. Rather,
communities participate in discourse in local, often idiosyncratic ways, both resisting and
becoming complicit in their own moral regulation. In other words, discourse
encompasses the "study of how texts are constructive of social formations, communities,
and individuals' social identities".'3 Human subjects use texts to make sense of their
world and to construct social actions and relations required in the labor of everyday life.
At the same time texts position and construct individuals, making available various
meanings, ideas and versions of the world.
Discourse is constructive by nature as it defines and positions human subj ects in
broad social formations and in local sites. Discourse constructs tr-uths about the social
and natural world, truths that become the taken-for-granted definitions and categories by
which members of communities define themselves and others. Through stories, text and
dialogue, individuals as well as institutions use discourse to highlight who they are, who
they are not, and their place in society. Since discourse plays a key role in constructing
identities it is important to examine what identities are so we can recognize them in EU
documents and text.
Social constructivism suggests that identities may be an important starting point
in understanding human interactions, which is particularly relevant in the context of
ethnic rivalries. Conflict usually suggests the presence of two competing identities; the
13 Luke, A. (1996). Text and discourse in education: An introduction to critical discourse analysis. Review
ofResearch in Education, 21, 9.
"self' and "the other" help distinguish between these two interests. Identities perform
three necessary functions in a society: they tell you who they are (they define the "self'),
they tell you who others are (they define the "other") and they tell others who you are.14
In telling you who you are, identities usually imply a particular set of preferences with
respect to particular actors. In any sense, identities are usually created by a shared set of
preferences, norms and historical experiences.
Identities belong to that potent set of social arrangements in which people
construct shared stories about who they are, how they are connected, and what has
happened to them. Such stories range from the small-scale production of excuses,
explanations, and apologies when something goes wrong to the large-scale production of
peace settlements and national histories. Whatever their truth or falsehood by the
standards of historical research, such stories play an indispensable role in the sealing of
agreements and the coordination of social interaction. Stories and identities intersect
when people start deploying shared answers to the questions "Who are you?" "Who are
we?" and "Who are they?"
Identities can be built on many different levels as individual citizens interact with
a vast number of social institutions including but not limited to governmental, religious
and social constructs. In order to fully analyze the question of whether the creation of a
common EU identity was a goal of PEACE II we must determine what a common EU
identity would look like so we can recognize it in relevant PEACE II discourse. The idea
of a European identity is a relatively new concept and scholars generally agree that if
Europe is to become a European State, an alternative model of democracy and a new
14 Tajfel, H. (1981). Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press. p. 608.
conception of identity is necessary. The construction of a European identity would
suggest that there is a change in the way EU citizens view national political identity. The
EU' s international identity is not a multiplier of difference that merely exaggerates the
dissimilarities between the EU and the rest of the world through a new European
supranational identity "but functions solely on the basis of addition by adding an EU
element to Europeans' complex and multifaceted identities"."5
Allegiance is not necessarily limited to one particular entity such as the nation-
stae. fte ties citizens' identity in contemporary polities is formulated by multiple
affiliations to different social groups on the basis of diverse factors such as gender,
political conviction, ethnic or cultural particularities".16 JUSt as a citizen of the United
States, for example, can hold allegiance to her city, state and country, the same can apply
true to the citizens of the EU. We all "live with multiple, dynamic and shifting identities,
loyalties and commitments"." Individuals can belong simultaneously to two different
bodies on the grounds of different factors of identification. One can be a "member-state
national in the sense of organic-ethnic identification and an EU citizen in the sense of
transnational affiliation to a different set of values: those transcending ethno-
culturalism".'8 In other words, a common identity can develop at all levels of social
organization, whether sub-national, national, or transnational. The essence of the
15 Manners, I. (2002). The 'Difference Engine': Constructing and representing the international identity of
the European Union. Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, 1, 3.
16 Prentoulis, N. (2001). On the technology of collective identity: Normative reconstructions of the concept
of EU citizenship. European Law Journal, 7, 203.
"7 Bader, V.M. (1999). Citizenship of the European Union. Ratio Juris, 12, 155.
1s Prentoulis, N. (2001). On the technology of collective identity: Normative reconstructions of the concept
of EU citizenship. European Law Journal, 7, 208.
European collective identity theory is that these levels are not mutually exclusive--all of
the aspects of identity formation and identification are necessary in a multi-level system
such as federal state, or the EU. Multiple identities and loyalties "are required for the
existence and effective functioning of a multi-level system of collective organization. If
social identities and identifications operate entirely at one level, the overall structure is
likely to be unstable".19
The EU and its institutions are vital elements that facilitate the creation of
"community of fate identities" that operate at the transnational level. Since an EU
identity is likely to evolve in ways which do not directly replicate the experience of a
state-based national citizenship, we must understand how and through what processes EU
identities are created. This is important to establish because it is unlikely that EU identity
building will be explicitly named in discourse, so we must be able to recognize the
channels through which EU identity building occurs. In the most basic sense, EU identity
must comprise "both a notion of identity which enables the members of the community of
the EU to identify each other within the political processes of European integration".20
Contemporary scholars such as Jo Shaw have suggested two primary ways in
which transnational entities, such as the EU, can foster identity formation. One way to do
this is through EU governance structures that offer something with which individuals can
identify, such as the Euro or the European Space Program. These structures work as a
means of inspiring loyalty and a sense of identity with the fate of the EU, while at the
same time avoiding the replacement of established national or regional identities. The
19 Shaw, Jo. (1998). The Interpretation of European Union Citizenship. The Modern Law Review, 61, 312.
2 Ibid. p. 294.
socio-psychological process whereby particular social structures or institutions become
meaningful obj ects of identification by individuals "is part of the creation and elaboration
of new social systems which are becoming ever more common phenomena in
The second way to encourage identity formation is though EU law and policy
structures. There are a number of ways in which a collective organization such as the EU
can shape individual and social identities--that is, people's conceptions of themselves,
the other, and of the groups to which both belong. In addition to actual collective entities
such as the EU, "processes of identity formation linked to the policy activities of
transnational polities provide vital tools for a closer empirical examination of citizenship
rights and duties (so far as they exist) in the EU".2 In other words, policy activities can
also be a useful mechanism in the construction of a common EU identity whether
implicitly or explicitly. The EU, for example, acts globally as an entity when it distributes
foreign aid, converses on policy issues with the United States, or when it represents EU
countries as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such activities are just three
tangible examples of joint law and policy actions that allow the EU to appear as one
entity and thus give Europeans specific illustrations of European activity with which to
Sovereign nation states were once the defining factor in foreign policy decisions
and actions. In the past decade, however, there has been a movement towards the
creation of a separate identity for Europe. While this identity does not replace the
identity of the member states, it is beginning to carve out a place in the global arena.
21 Ibid. p. 311.
Policy actions and the prevalence of EU institutions are working to shape old identities
and foster the creation of new, collective identities. In doing so, interplay between
supranational organizations such as the EU and individuals is creating a two-way street in
which there are mutual effects and impacts.
22Ibid. p. 312.
DISCOURSE LANGUAGE INT THE MAKING
AND IMPLEMENTATION OF PEACE II
In order to determine whether EU identity formation was a goal of the PEACE II
program we will turn to the PEACE II Operation Manual and subsequently, PEACE II
grant proposals, to unveil whether EU institutions and the formation of a collective
identity was a relevant part of the discourse surrounding the creation and implementation
of the initiative. When the ceasefires were called in 1994, the European Commission
immediately sought ways in which it could help the new situation. A special task force
was established and, after wide-ranging consultations, it produced the proposal: A
Special Support Program for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland. This body
"argued that to exploit fully the economic and social opportunities created by the end of
violence and to push the region nearer a permanent peace, a package of financial
assistance was required from the EU".23 Known inside Northern Ireland as the European
peace package, the initiative resulted in a 300+ page Operation Manual that outlined the
goals and structure of the PEACE II Program as well as selection criteria for the
grassroots organizational funding of PEACE II. Due to the fact that the Operation
Manual and subsequent grant proposals serve as the primary vehicle through which the
Commission communicated information regarding PEACE II, it proves a solid candidate
for an in-depth discourse analysis of the peace initiative.
23Teague, P. (1996). The European Union and the Irish peace process. Journal of Conunon Market Studies,
While not explicitly stated as a goal of the PEACE II program, our discourse
analysis will reveal that the Commission may be fostering EU identity formation through
EU institution building and by encouraging multiple-identity policy initiatives. The
usefulness of EU institutional involvement in Northern Ireland is prevalent throughout
conflict literature. Since they have endured most of the violence, many communities in
Northern Ireland have developed a deep sense of political and social alienation, as well as
experiencing considerable economic hardship. By targeting money on such areas, the EU
may start a process of reconciliation and help lift the cloud of despair from those
communities. Scholars contend that EU institutional involvement will be beneficial to
the peace process because to "weaken engrained nationalist and unionist beliefs requires
a recasting of the economic and political foundations of Northern Ireland".24 The EU
standing once removed from the conflict, yet growing in authority and competence, has
been viewed as a suitable institution for the promotion of peace.
The second way in which the Operation Manual may be affecting identity
formation is through policy initiatives set forth by EU institutions that encourage identity
building. Policy preferences and development, in particular, "can implicate the role of
normative processes in the evolution of identities or relationships".2 In essence, specific
EU policy directed at adding an EU allegiance to preexisting British Protestant and Irish
Catholic identities is a more focused element of EU institution building. Institutions and
policy decisions reinforce a sense of community, thereby strengthening relationships and
making the existence of a form of membership more meaningful within Northern Ireland.
I4bid. p. 552.
25Shaw, Jo. (1998). The Interpretation of European Union Citizenship. The Modern Law Review, 61, 315.
Both institution and policy, when working together, can result in the creation of a new,
Even if the PEACE II Operation Manual does recognize that a common European
identity plays an important role in ameliorating the conflict, this discourse is only
relevant to our analysis if these notions of identity are operationalized in funded PEACE
II proj ects. The Special EU Programming Body which is responsible for the
implementation of PEACE II highlights a comprehensive list of 1,965 successful PEACE
II grant applicants. These grant proposals provide valuable insight into whether identity-
building initiatives were an integral element of proj ects that were ultimately funded under
PEACE II. Following an in-depth analysis of the PEACE II Operation Manual it is then
necessary to examine a sampling of successful grant applications to complete this
dichotomy. If European identity building initiatives were in fact contemplated in the
PEACE II Operation Manual it would follow that the proj ects chosen for funding by the
Commission would reflect such goals.
Through discourse analysis, we will be able to establish whether institutions and
policy-building measures within the PEACE II Operation Manual and accepted grant
proposals foster the creation of a common EU identity. This analysis offers a perspective
on how identity formation at various levels may work through the agency of the activities
of a transnational polity. Following the theory of EU identity, the remainder of this paper
will embrace an in-depth discourse analysis by examining first, the prevalence of EU
involvement within the Operation Manual followed by an examination of identity
initiatives within the document and Einally, an analysis of successful grant applications
that invoke these specific initiatives. In the case of Northern Ireland, both the prevalence
and context of the discussion surrounding these concepts will allow us to fully answer the
question of whether EU identity was conceptualized during the construction and
implementation of the PEACE II documents and beyond.
The PEACE II Operation Manual: Emphasis on EU Involvement
and Identity Transformation
The first step in understanding whether a common EU identity was a goal of
PEACE II involves a determination of whether EU involvement was conceptualized as
having a role in the peace process. The Operation Manual begins by recognizing the
challenge of supporting and reinforcing progress towards a more peaceful and stable
society in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. It then establishes the importance
of the European Union' s role in addressing the legacy of the conflict and the necessity of
allowing the EU to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the peace.
Despite the fact that much of the PEACE II funding was to be allocated to grassroots
organizations for implementation purposes, the Operation Manual goes on to outline
specific channels for EU involvement, calling PEACE II an "innovative program not only
in a UK and Irish context, but also at the level of the European Union as a whole".26
The role of the EU as a central figure in the peace process is critical, because
building a European identity can be jump-started by recognition of broader European,
rather than regional issues. The PEACE II discourse suggests that the conflict is not just
and Irish problem but a wider European problem. In some ways, particularistic,
competitive, and conflicting Irish identities have generalized this conflict. The EU,
therefore, offers alternative identities and norms under the guise of social inclusion,
26 European Commission. (GI r'4). EU Program for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the
border region of Ireland. Brussels, Belgium: European Union. p. 15.
integration and reconciliation. The PEACE II Operation Manual recognizes that the EU
has shown continued commitment to maintaining the momentum for peace and
reconciliation and preserves that role for the future. As the stated Rationale for PEACE
II, the document goes on to explain that it is not merely for the benefit of bringing peace
to Northern Ireland but "for the wider benefit of the European Union as a whole.""
Rather than creating a narrowly tailored community initiative, the PEACE II Operation
Manual stresses a need for greater European involvement to alleviate the conflict. The
Manual even goes on to state that in the context of PEACE II, the Special EU Program
Body plays a central role. The Operational Manual explicitly states that "it will be the
Managing Authority of the new PEACE II Program...and will be involved in the
administration of the cross-border elements of the other Community Initiatives Program
on the island of Ireland".28
Aside from recognition of the importance of general EU involvement, the
Operation Manual also established significant oversight capacities. Although significant
autonomy and flexibility was given to grassroots organizations during the implementation
phase of PEACE I, the Operation Manual's discourse focused on reining in grassroots
organizations in an effort to maintain oversight capacity to synchronize peace initiatives.
Once of the specific problems that the Operation Manual specifically named with PEACE
I was problems with coordination and implementation of grassroots programming.
Excessive local control "caused confusion in that sometimes calls for proj ect applications
were similar to those within other program measures and [PEACE I funding] was not
27Ibid. p. 14.
I8bid. p. 10.
being administered on a wider regional thematic basis".29 The Program discourse goes
on to highlight remedial measures to increase the involvement by the EU in the
management and implementation of PEACE II including:
The need for formal coordination procedures between all relevant EU
Programs offering similar forms of assistance in the same areas covered
by PEACE II.
Funding bodies should have a clear understanding of their role and areas)
of responsibility and of their relationship with other relevant organizations
both within PEACE II and other EU Programs.
Meaningful and consistent Einancial and other information needs should be
coordinated electronically and, where appropriate, form part of a wider
shared database in order to facilitate the coordination with other relevant
EU Programs or forms of assistance.
In addition to ideas outlined above, the Commission established the North/South
Ministerial Council (NSMC) as an oversight body specifically created to ensure EU
involvement in the PEACE II initiative. The discourse within the Operational Manual
explains that the role of the NSMC is "to bring in the European Union dimension of
relevant matters, including the implementation of EU policies and Programs and
proposals under consideration in the EU framework".30 The Manual discourse also made
arrangements to ensure that the views of NSMC are taken into account and represented
appropriately at relevant EU meetings. While some may contend that these changes were
a conscious effort by the EU to increase efficiency, maintain control, and heighten fiscal
responsibility, none of these contentions were actually outlined as reasons why the
NSMC was implemented. The primary stated reason for the implementation of the
NSMC was simply to increase EU involvement in the PEACE II process.
29 Ibid. p. 16.
30 Ibid. p. 9.
This change in emphasis from the original PEACE I program to include a
European element to PEACE II is strategically significant. As the EU establishes a
presence within Northern Ireland, peace and community building efforts will
simultaneously be attributed back to the EU. More importantly, the visible presence of
EU within the community will foster a grater spirit of unity among those in Northern
Ireland. The European element is particularly important with respect to PEACE II, as the
maj ority of the programmatic funding goes to individual grassroots organizations.
Without the European emphasis, PEACE II has the possibility of becoming highly
fragmented and compartmentalized as individual organizations pursue their own
initiatives. If the Operation Manual discourse remains contextualized by the EU, it seems
to suggest that the presence of a European element is of central importance to the creators
of PEACE II.
The PEACE II Operation Manual: Emphasis on Multiple Identity Formation
In addition to the Operation Manual's insistence on EU involvement and
strengthening oversight, there is also a significant discourse on combating the single
identity formation through policy initiatives. The document explains that increased
polarization of settlements has reduced opportunities for building cross-community
relationships with 87% of Northern Ireland communities being classified as "single
identity". Northern Ireland is, for the most part, single identity and work on capacity
and confidence building has traditionally been restricted to activities within individual
communities. The Manual explains that for a growing number of community groups,
Ilbid. p. 90.
"the challenge lies in encouraging them to take the next step towards a more inclusive
society".32 After decades of conflict the rural community is increasingly segregated and
polarized. At the local level, village centers and rural roads are often "marked out" with
flags, emblems and graffiti with the purpose of defining territory and making members of
the other community feel unwelcome. As well as increasing social division and tension,
these activities have been in direct conflict with community building.
The discourse of the Operation Manual outlines action, proj ects and policy
supported by the PEACE II program in order to alleviate these single identity problems.
In choosing grassroots programs for PEACE II funding, the Operation Manual explains
that irrespective of whether they are region-wide or locally based, originating from
grassroots or higher levels "cross-community or identity proj ects Einanced under the
PEACE Program should facilitate in one way or another cooperation or j oint action
between different communities and parts of the community or build cohesion and
confidence within a community with the perspective that this is a first step in breaking
down community divisions".33 While not distinctly outlining the creation of a European
identity per se, discourse surrounding the goals and rationale of supported grassroots
organizations should emphasize identity building. The Program will support proj ects
"in favor of one single community insofar as they contribute to confidence or capacity
building in identity with an explicit aim at reconciliation between communities in
Northern Ireland or across the Irish border".34 PEACE II will benefit, in particular, if
32 Ibid. p. 111.
33 Ibid. p. 3 1.
34 Ibid. p. 34.
those proj ects are in favor of groups, areas or sector/activities that engage in the process
of reconciliation and mutual understanding.
The Manual offers several ways in which this can by accomplished. By
"supporting environmental proj ects which involve the entire community, especially
socially excluded groups, the Measure will contribute towards creating rural areas that
are welcoming for residents and visitors and which contribute to peace building at a local
level". Northern Ireland is fortunate to have a significant number of village/community
halls in rural areas. However, many of these are owned and managed by single identity
organizations and the halls are often perceived as for use by one element of the
community only. The Operation Manual explains that the "maintenance, conservation
and enhancement of the environment can provide a means of enhancing local community
identity and serve to bring divided communities together with a common non-
Although there is conversation in the Operation Manual focused on breaking
down single identities and reconstructing new ones, it is still unclear from my limited
research whether the EU meant to build a common EU identity through the
implementation of the PEACE II program. PEACE II discourse does reflect policy
formation and support of grassroots organizations who work to combat the problem of
single identities. This suggests that the PEACE II program may, at the very least, have
the building blocks in place that are necessary to begin identity building proj ects. Further
research into committee notes, working papers or accepted grant proposals would be
necessary, however, before definitively concluding that the EU is indeed working to
35Ibid. p. 111.
create a common European identity thereby adding a new element to the conflict in
Implementation and Exploration of Successful Grant Applications
The true test of whether a common EU identity was indeed contemplated by the
authors of PEACE II is whether identity building proj ects were a component of
applications ultimately chosen for funding under PEACE II. If a common EU identity
was a goal of PEACE II, it is likely that the European Commission would look favorably
on proj ects that promote identity building. An in-depth examination of grant proposals
will corroborate the analysis of the PEACE II Operation Manuel and will help us
determine whether identity building concepts were in fact contemplated by the EU
Commission and if so, how such goals were translated and ultimately operationalized in
order to begin the process of change. By exploring a random sampling of successful
grant applications and the discourse surrounding each proposal, we will be able to
determine whether the building blocks for a common identity are present not only in the
PEACE II Operation Manual but also in the PEACE II funded programs.
The Special EU Programming Body (SEUPB) outlined a database of
approximately 1,965 successful applications under PEACE II, Priority 2 during the time
frame of 2000-2006. These projects were classified under one of eleven measures aimed
at achieving the goals set forth under Priority 2. Upon examining each grant proposal to
determine their placement under the appropriate measure, the proj ects were distributed as
36 Ibid. pp. 233-234.
Table 2-1. Proj ect classification of funded proj ects under PEACE II, Priority 2.
Compiled from a list of grant proposals of the Special European Union
Proj ect classification Total number of proj ects under PEACE II,
Priority 2 (2000-2006)
Measure 1: Reconciliation for 144
Measure 2: Developing children 263
and young people
Measure 3: Building the social 41
Measure 4: Pathways to inclusion, 180
integration and reconciliation
Measure 5: Investing in childcare 276
Measure 6: Promoting active citizenship 64
Measure 7: Developing weak 181
Measure 8: Accompanying infrastructure 442
and equipment support
Measure 9: Renovation and development 142
Measure 10: Encouragement for tourist 29
and craft activities
Measure 11: Area-based regeneration 203
None of the measures, on their face, specifically pinpointed identity building. In
order to obtain a full understanding of the types of proj ects approved under each measure
of Priority 2, I took a sample of the first 10 proj ects listed under each of the eleven
measures in order to explore proj ect descriptions and grant application discourse. A more
scientific sampling would have consisted of a random sampling of all 1,965 combined
proj ects or, ultimately, coding each of the 1,965 proj ects in order to pinpoint specific
discourse in a scientific content analysis. Due to constrains of time and manpower, for
the purposes of this research analysis, the first ten proj ects under each measure will serve
as the foundation for determining whether building a common EU identity transcended
the Operation Manual and was in fact present in proj ects that were ultimately funded
under PEACE II, Priority 2.
Upon a careful reading of the project descriptions and goals of 1 10 PEACE II,
Priority 2 funded proj ects none of the sampled proj ects explicitly mentioned EU
involvement as a primary obj ective nor did the proj ects explicitly emphasize the creation
of a common EU identity. The maj ority of the discourse focused on embracing
differences, finding new ways to bring Irish and British citizens together, and building
community infrastructure. One proj ect did, however, make a broad reference to identity.
The Rural Development Counsel of Cookstown, Northern Ireland explained, as part of
their proj ect description, that their mentoring and training services will facilitate the
development of the capacity of groups to implement local culture, heritage and identity
proj ects in a manner, which maximize their contribution to peace and reconciliation.
While just a brief mention of identity, it is indicative of the fact that identity proj ects are
not completely foreign to the PEACE II, Priority 2 framework.
Despite one broad reference to identity, the proj ect discourse was noticeably
absent of specific references to EU involvement and EU identity building. Without
further research, it is impossible to decipher what the EU meant by "social integration,
inclusion and reconciliation" under the language of PEACE II, Priority 2 and whether or
not Priority 2 encompassed a vision for a wider EU identity. The lack of specific identity
discourse does still allow us to make preliminary conclusions based on rudimentary data.
The first possible conclusion is that the EU did not intend to include the creation of a
common EU identity under PEACE II, Priority 2. In the alternative, the second possible
conclusion is that the EU did intend to include identity building as part of PEACE II,
Priority 2 despite the absence of specific references to identity. Without evidence of
identity building discourse in accepted grant proposals, it is difficult to say that the
European Commission definitively intended to support the creation of a common EU
identity under PEACE II. There are, however, several reasons why EU involvement and
identity discourse may not have been more readily apparent throughout the grant proposal
The absence of proj ects aimed at building new identities is not necessarily
reflective of the absence of a true intent to build a common identity. More realistically,
this deficit is possibly the result of the EU' s lack of implementation capacity. PEACE II,
just a small segment of the EU' s overall structural readjustment and economic policy
programs, is representative of a minute fraction of the thousands of individual grassroots
programs that fall under the jurisdiction of the European Union. Priority 2, one of four
priorities under PEACE II, is home to over 1,965 projects alone. This is just a small
indication of the magnitude and sheer number of proj ects that fall under EU supervision.
The failure of the EU to translate their perceived goals from the PEACE II Operation
Manual to ground proj ects is perhaps indicative of the lack of implementation capacity.
The various committees under the SEUPB who are charged with granting applications are
several steps removed from the Commission who envisioned the purpose of the PEACE
II proj ect. Disconnect between the hierarchy and a lack of direction by the EU may also
have resulted in proj ects that strayed from the original PEACE II goals. Furthermore, the
grant criteria outlined by the Commission is short and lacks rigid guidelines for
prospective applications, giving grassroots organizations the ability to freely interpret the
broad language of any of the four outlined priorities under PEACE II.
Secondarily, but of equal importance, are the inherent difficulties associated with
reconstructing identities in an area with a history of civil conflict. Contemporary
scholarship on the notion of a common identity in Northern Ireland highlight why
definitive references to EU identity building may be problematic in this context.
Academics contend that the building of a European identity, if more explicitly
encouraged, might be met with resistance from the local community. Reflecting a widely
held nationalist expectation, scholars have suggested that the closer cooperation between
Northern Ireland and the EU will induce the unionist community in the north to shift its
loyalties away from Britain and towards the Irish Republic. The literature suggests that
once different national political and economic elites decide to deepen cooperation
between themselves, even in fairly prescribed policy areas, they will find that the scopes
of boundaries are quickly expanding. As a result of this gradual process, the
"political foundations will be laid for the unification of Ireland"." This view has
typically been described as the rolling integration scenario which explains "the process
whereby political actors in separate national settings are persuaded to shift their
traditional loyalties, expectations and activities from a well-established political
formation towards a new constitutional order".3
In other words, large scale identity rhetoric is especially dangerous for the EU' s
relationship with the British government. The Irish unionists have consistently sought to
internationalize the conflict in Northemn Ireland, primarily because it highlights the
problems in Northemn Ireland and "alert[s] people to become aware of the situation in
Europe".39 The British government, who has always tried to label the Irish conflict as an
37Teague, P. (1996). The European Union and the Irish peace process. Journal of Common Market Studies,
39 Hayward, K. (2006). Reiterating national identities: The European Union conception of conflict
resolution in Northemn Ireland. Cooperation and Conflict, 41, 268.
internal challenge, may not take well to a deliberate attempt to meddle in domestic
affairs. Unionists in Northern Ireland have often obj ected, in the strongest terms, to any
outside interference in the province. An overt focus on identity building would perhaps
result in backlash, further entrenching divides. National sensitivities are, perhaps, one
reason why a common EU identity is not more obviously encouraged within the
Operation Manual and therefore the reason they are not more obviously present in the
accepted PEACE II, Priority 2 accepted grant proposals.
Even if the EU was to focus more openly on identity building, the EU would
likely find that constructing identities is both a complicated and delicate process. In the
case of Northern Ireland, it consists of strengthening old identities while at the same time
fostering the creation of new ones. An effort aimed at the eradication of the Irish
Catholic and British Protestants associations would only cause further divide and a
distrust of the EU. The EU is therefore faced with the challenge of amplifying this
diversity while at the same time encouraging those diverse identities to take on a new
association with a new constitutional order. In particular, the EU faces the challenge of
"creating a framework for European identity that makes the cost of conflict...too high to
continue and that feed[s] .. the recognition of shared needs and the creation of a
In order to embrace a new identity, individuals must be comfortable with existing
identities. British Protestants must be challenged to recognize and accommodate Irish
Catholic national and cultural identities, and vice versa. It is only when the sparring
cultures are able to work together and accept each other that the formation of a new,
I0bid. p. 262.
common EU identity will even be possible. Once a new identity association is formed, it
would be the hope that a common European tie would win out over other conflicting
identities. Just as member of the United States shares differences based on state and
regional identities, a common tie to a greater nationality unites individuals despite their
differences. In the same vain, the EU "does not seek to replace or construct [identities],
but instead reiterates them through the formalization of dual state involvement".4
Fostering a new level of identity formation while embracing cultural difference is
a difficult task, but the Einal obstacle is operationalizing identity building. Despite an in-
depth analysis of constructivist theories on identity formation, a determination of exactly
what consists of identity building projects still remains unclear. Due to the climate of
Northern Ireland, specific references to EU institutionalism and the creation of a common
EU identity may not be appropriate. In such a situation, the rhetoric may be toned down
and thus harder to recognize. Many of the funded proj ects, despite their absence of
specific rhetorical references to EU identity building, could perhaps be conceived as
paying the way for such goals. Since the theory is unclear as to how identity proj ects are
operationalized, may of the PEACE II proj ects could be interpreted as fostering identity
building. In particular, projects under Measure 6, Promoting Active Citizenship,
Measure 8, Accompanying Infrastructure and Equipment Support, and Measure 5,
Investing in Childcare.
Proj ect 0013 50 or the Ballynafeigh Community Development Association, for
example, explained in their proposal that the purpose of the group was to "promote
diversity of mixed communities, identify and highlight issues relevant to mixed
communities, lobby for the recognition of the need for policy in relation to mixed
41 Ibid. p. 263.
communities and develop a specific approach to working with these communities".4
Citizenship proj ects may be the first step towards building tolerance and acceptance of
conflicting identity groups. Some scholars have noted that "if citizens vote for parties
that most strongly represent and defend what they see as their identity and interests
(defined along British unionist or Irish nationalist lines) .. the institutionalization of this
difference can lead to an impasse on issues that are of significance to the identity of both
groups".4 Close cooperation on political issues, with the EU at the helm, can only serve
to bring together two traditionally sparring populations under a European flag.
In the same light, proj ect 00893 or the Lisburn Mens Education Network, is
another example of the citizenship building initiatives that fall under PEACE II, Priority
2. The aim of the Lisburn Mens Education Network is to help people understand the
rights and obligations of citizenship as well as the process of government, political
ideologies and the various electoral processes in order to become more active in civic
society. While not overtly outlining the prospects of building a loyal European citizenry,
this initiative could be classified as an identity building project. Acknowledgement and
encouragement of the two governments could improve the prospects for progress to take
place with the active participation of all law-abiding parties in Northern Ireland. By
fostering active citizenship through EU funded programs, both British and Irish alike can
peacefully express their national identities while simultaneously working to build
allegiance to the EU.
42Special European Union Programs Body. ('I as it. Ballynafeigh Coiniunity Development association
Grant application. Brussels, Belgium: European Union. p: 1.
43Hayward, K. (2006). Reiterating national identities: The European Union conception of conflict
resolution in Northemn Ireland. Cooperation and Conflict, 41, 276.
Finally, Proj ect 001622, the OPELS First Steps Playgroup, is just one of the
hundreds of playgroups focused on the socialization of young people. As the second
highest funded measure under Priority 2, this is perhaps the most overt step in European
identity building as all of these proj ects focus on the integration of British Protestant and
Irish Catholic children. The stated goal of the OPELS First Steps Playgroup was to
"[provide] 40 places to pre-school children in a non-denominational Early Years Care
and Education setting".4 The proposed curriculum included learning about cultural
differences, equality, diversity, tolerance and acceptance. The project explicitly states
that they "welcome and include children with special needs and from ethnic minorities
regardless of their religious backgrounds". Socializing children and encouraging them
to build a common identity through interaction and tolerance is an important step in
deconstructing barriers. Children in America, for example, come together each day in
classrooms across the nation to pledge their allegiance to the flag and to sing patriotic
songs. These activities occur despite their differences in religion, ethnicity, and socio-
economic background. If both British Protestant and Irish Catholic children are given the
opportunity to come together in a safe environment created by the European Union, it is
possible that they will begin to build a common identity from an early age. Just like
children in America, differences will perhaps be surpassed in light of a new and common
It is impossible to say, without further research, exactly why EU involvement and
EU identity building discourse was not mentioned in the PEACE II accepted grant
44Special European Union Programs Body. ('I as it. OPELS First Steps Plavgroup Grant application.
Brussels, Belgium: European Union. p: 1.
proposals. We can, however, conj ecture as to why these initiatives were notably absent.
The political dynamics of Northern Ireland, the difficulties of inculcating tolerance for
diversity while simultaneously working to build new identities, and the challenges of
operationalizing such initiatives makes the concept of a common EU identity increasingly
difficult in Northern Ireland. Recognizing these challenges, however, is the first step
towards the peaceful expression of national identities in Northern Ireland.
The European Parliament once stated in the Haagerup Report, the first maj or
initiative taken by the EU on the situation of conflict in Northern Ireland, that it is
"aware that the conflict, deeply rooted in British-Irish history, is less one of religious
strife than of conflicting national identities in Northern Ireland."46 To some extent, the
EU' s approach to the conflict is the belief that it is caused by historical antagonism
between British and Irish nationalisms and identities. The very concept of conflicting
identities paved the way for this research and led us to ask: To what extent did the EU
conceptualize Priority 2 to include the construction of a European identity as a solution to
the conflict? In an attempt to inculcate identity I examined the SEUPB's PEACE II
Operation Manual and successful PEACE II, Priority 2 grant applications. Through an
in-depth discourse analysis of both materials, the research revealed a somewhat
surprising conclusion: Despite my initial assumption that these documents would clearly
demonstrate a desire to build a common EU identity, clear discourse to that effect was
noticeably absent from the PEACE II documents.
One could conclude from the data that building a common EU identity was never
a contemplated as part of the PEACE II proj ect. Identity building may be too lofty of a
goal for a new constitutional order or it is perhaps something that the EU believes will
come in time as a natural result of economic integration. In the same vain, however, the
data may also suggest the very opposite. The EU may have intended a common EU
identity to be a crucial part of the PEACE II programming despite its absence from the
46 Haagerup, M.J. (1984). European Parliament Working Document 1-1526 83. Brussels, Belgium:
Operation Manual and grant proposal discourse. Neither conclusion, however, can be
made with any sort of preciseness, quite simply, because the examined data was
insufficient to draw any sort of robust conclusion. The data that was sampled was a just a
small indication of the European Commissions goals for PEACE II. In addition to the
Operation Manual, the SEUPB archives are home to dozens of PEACE II reports and
publications. These documents include monitoring committee papers, extensive
implementation reports, and monitoring and evaluation working group minutes, just to
name a few. A far more detailed study is required before a definitive conclusion can be
In addition to the challenges associated with researching such extensive bodies of
data, there were also theoretical challenges as well. Discourse and constructivist identity
theories explained identity basics and how multi-leveled allegiance are built. The
problem, however, is with how operationalizing such projects. The scholars that address
EU identity building focus, only generally, on two elements: that EU institutions and EU
law and policy play a critical role in facilitating the creation of transnational identities. In
the case of PEACE II, the proj ect is funded and administered by the SEUPB, an EU
institution, thereby meeting the first element of successful identity building. The problem
begins, however, with identity policy structures. The theory never addresses what
identity policy looks like or how to recognize them, especially in the context of sensitive
national situations where identity projects transcend the obvious. Future theory should
work to close the gaps and pinpoint specific identity structures so that identity building
bodies, such as the EU, will be better positioned to implement such objectives.
The strengths and weaknesses of this research are clear. The discourse analysis
was notably narrow for the purposes of this study, and a more well-rounded examination
would provide stronger evidence with which to answer the proposed question. If this
topic was to be expanded into a possible dissertation, future studies may seek to
determine if grassroots organizations are working to implement collective EU identity
building on the ground, despite the lack of clear identity language in their grant
proposals. A comparative case study with similar conflicting cultural identity groups,
such as the Basque in Spain, could also be done to determine if the EU is working on
identity building in other parts of the Union.
The strengths of this paper, however, lie in its implications. Regardless of how
explicit the formulation of an EU identity is within the text of PEACE II, examining EU
identity in this way allows us to see citizenship not only as a symbolic flag waved from
time to time by actors such as the Commission, the European Parliament and even the
Member States, but also as one facet of the day-to-day policy-making activities of all
those institutions and entities. In Northern Ireland, EU policy is not just an exercise in
codification or consolidation, but also recognition of identity as an integral part of the EU
polity. Although in the context of Northern Ireland, the analysis may seem excessively
idealistic or utopian, in terms of the presumed benefits to be derived from European
integration, the building of a common identity may be a new and innovative solution to
the conflict in Northern Ireland. A common European identity may have the ability to
shift or at least build upon current relationships--Irish and British, Protestant and
Catholic--to create a shared notion of EU identity.
It is still unclear exactly what the contributions of the EU will be towards peace in
Northern Ireland but it would be naive to believe that identity building will automatically
cause political discontent to wither away. The EU, however, may indeed have an
important role to play in the conflict in Northern Ireland. Seeking innovative solutions to
the age-old troubles may include the formation of a common identity--one that fosters
community and one that extinguishes sharply divided borders in favor of a united Europe.
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Lauren A. Fackender was born on June 1, 1981 in Tallahassee Florida. The oldest
of three children, she grew up in Tallahassee, graduating from Leon High School in 1999.
She earned her B.A. in political science and history from the University of Florida (UF)
in 2003. In 2006 Lauren graduated with a joint degree in law and political science.