The struggle for agreement in Northern Ireland, 1970–2000

Seán Farren

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-238-4
October 2010. 408pp; ills.

Established in the midst of civil unrest, community tensions and political uncertainty, the Social Democratic and Labour Party was not expected by many to endure. But it has endured, and it has provided two of the outstanding statesmen of Northern Ireland’s peace process, John Hume and Séamus Mallon. The SDLP mobilized many hundreds of others, deeply committed to the principles of democratic nationalism and social democracy. This book traces the SDLP’s seminal contribution to the politics of partnership and reconciliation. Imbued with a deep sense of social justice, the party was totally opposed to the use of violence for political ends. The men and women of the SDLP promoted cross-community partnership within the North and between North and South, as well as an end to centuries-old British-Irish antagonisms. This first in-depth study of the SDLP’s role draws on the author’s own involvement in the party and uses hitherto unpublished British, Irish and SDLP archival material. The SDLP: the struggle for agreement in Northern Ireland, 1970–2000 is a tribute to the commitment and dedication of party members throughout those turbulent years.

Seán Farren, who hails from Dublin, has been a member of the SDLP since 1972. He has served as party chair, district councillor, assembly member for North Antrim and minister in the 1999–2002 power-sharing executive. He is the author of The politics of Irish education, 1920–1965 (1994) and, with Robert Mulvihill, Paths to a settlement in Northern Ireland (2000). He retired from the Assembly in 2007, and is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster, where for many years he was a faculty member in the School of Education.