Global citizen and European republic. Irish foreign policy in transition

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Publication Date 2006
ISBN 0-7190-5607-1
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This book offers a new and innovative way of looking at Irish foreign policy, linking its development with changes in Irish national identity. Many debates within contemporary International Relations focus on the relative benefits of taking a traditional interest-based approach to the study of foreign policy as opposed to the more recently developed identity-based approach. Uniquely, this book takes the latter and, instead of looking at Irish foreign policy through the lens of individual, geo-strategic or political interest, it is linked to deeper identity changes. As one Minister of Foreign Affairs put it; ‘Irish foreign policy is about much more than self-interest. The elaboration of our foreign policy is also a matter of self-definition – simply put, it is for many of us a statement of the kind of people that we are.’

Using this approach, four grand narratives are identified which, it is argued, have served to shape the course of Irish foreign policy and which have, in turn, been impacted by the course of Ireland’s international experience. The roots and significance of each of these narratives; Ireland as a European Republic, as a Global Citizen, as an Anglo American State and as an Irish Nation are then outlined and their significance assessed. The shape of Irish foreign policy making structures is then drawn out and the usefulness of this book’s approach to Irish foreign policy is then considered in three brief case studies: Ireland’s European experience, its neutrality and Irish policy towards the 2003 Iraq War.

It is hoped that this book will appeal to those with an interest in Irish foreign policy, politics and history as well as students of international relations theory and foreign policy.

Ben Tonra is Jean Monnet Professor of European Foreign, Security and Defence Policy at the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin.

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