Aaron Edwards

The Fragility of the Good Friday Peace: The Persistence of Terrorism in Northern Ireland

Combating Terrorism Center


The murder of a journalist, a recent car bombing in Northern Ireland, and a series of parcel bombs sent to key transport hubs in London and to the University of Glasgow have raised the specter of a renewed terror campaign by militant Irish Republicans. Commentators have been quick to tie the attacks to the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the European Union. However, this assertion obscures more than it reveals. Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement peace deal in 1998, militant Ulster loyalists have been responsible for slightly more security-related deaths than republicans. The continuing presence of violent groups on both sides of the ethno-national divide, therefore, points to broader imperfections in the peace process. Moreover, the challenge posed by these groupings is significantly different than it was 25 years ago when the paramilitary ceasefires were announced. There has been a blurring of the concepts of terrorism and criminality that challenges orthodox perspectives on the security landscape in Northern Ireland.