International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

Hybrid Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties

The Impact of the International Fund for Ireland and the European Union’s Peace III Fund

Keywords Northern Ireland, economic aid, elicitive approach, liberal peace, grass-roots everyday peacemakers
Authors Julie Hyde en Sean Byrne
Author's information

Julie Hyde
Julie Hyde is a Ph.D. Candidate in peace and conflict studies at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on critical approaches to peacebuilding, peace education, and indigenous/non-indigenous relationships.

Sean Byrne
Sean Byrne is professor of peace and conflict studies and director of the Arthur V Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba. He has published extensively in the area of critical and emancipatory peace building. He was a consultant to the special advisor to the Irish Taoiseach on arms decommissioning. He is a consultant on the Northern Ireland peace process to the senior advisor for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee. His research was funded by SSHRC and the USIP.
  • Abstract

      This article draws upon a wide qualitative study of the experiences and perceptions held by 107 community group leaders and 13 funding agency development officers within the liminal context of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. These organizations received funding from the European Union’s Peace III Program and/or the International Fund for Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key figures in these groups and agencies during the summer of 2010. This data is explored in relation to the concept of hybrid peacebuilding so as to better identify and articulate the potentialities and challenges associated with grass-roots macro-level interactions. The empirical findings indicate the necessity of flexibility in empowering local decision makers in a hybridized peacebuilding process. Local people should be involved with the funders and the governments in constructing and in implementing these processes. The theoretical findings are consistent with previous research that favors elicitive and local rather than top-down bureaucratic and technocratic processes. More attention needs to be paid to how local people see conflict and how they build peace. The prescriptive/practical implications are that policymakers must include the grass roots in devising and implementing peacebuilding; the grass roots need to ensure their local practices and knowledge are included; and external funders must include local people’s needs and visions in more heterogeneous hybrid peacebuilding approaches. The article is original, providing grass-roots evidence of the need to develop the hybrid peacebuilding model.

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