Beyond Matryoshka Governance in the 21st Century: The Curious Case of Northern Ireland
Oran Doyle, Aileen McHarg and Jo Murkens (eds), The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the United Kingdom: Constitutions under Pressure, Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2020
Date Written: Aug 8, 2020
This international and global constitutionalism-oriented work will consider how Northern Ireland’s experience during and after Brexit informs our understandings of multi-level governance orders and interactions between and within those orders. This piece will utilize scale theory – originating in political geography – to consider how Northern Ireland became a core feature of Brexit negotiations. Scale, as a geographical and political idea–incorporates a range of concepts: core and periphery, population size, majorities and minorities, temporality both linear and nonlinear, geographic governance size – as well as questions of local, national, regional and universal spaces to consider how governance is constructed and the role law plays in constructing those scales. A traditional view of governance structures would regard Northern Ireland as having little or no say in negotiations on trade. Northern Ireland falls at the bottom of the system which begins with its local concerns, before going up to the UK national level, the EU regional level and ultimately the global WTO level. Nonetheless the negotiations on the draft Withdrawal Agreement has repeatedly seen all parties refer to and return to governance in Northern Ireland as core concern. Whereas traditional accounts of scaled governance orders deploy “nested” constructs to place Northern Ireland in a tidy frame, organised like a series of Russian dolls, this article challenges this narrative by interrogating the slippage between the governance orders and addressing the methods by which they interact with each other, and what extent of ‘voice’ that ultimately leaves for Northern Ireland.
Keywords: Brexit, Northern Ireland, Scale, Multilateral Governance, Trade
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