Democracy, Governance and Governmentality: Civic Public Space and Constitutional Renewal in Northern Ireland

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 21 (2):287-310 (2001)
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This article seeks to make some general points about the changing nature of constitutionalism by looking critically at the constitutional architecture of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It argues that despite their sophistication the structures of settlement in Northern Ireland do not address fully the fundamental issues of the changing nature of power and the ethical character of constitutional transformation. The argument draws upon the governmentality approach associated with work developing the later writings of Michel Foucault to consider the nature of government and of multi‐level and multi‐form governance. In particular, the account reviews briefly the settlement structures and suggests that the role of government may have changed since last there was devolution in Northern Ireland. Next the history of involvement of the voluntary sector in governance in the Northern Ireland context is outlined to indicate its particular potential for development. Finally, the positive advantages of opening up a new democratic space through developing the role of civil society in the processes of governance are reviewed and the value of a constitutional renewal project is considered



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