Northern Ireland and the UK Constitution

Lisa Claire Whitten

‘An excellent read for anyone wishing to understand the complex historical and political relationships and challenges in Northern Ireland’
Margaret Ritchie, former leader of the SDLP

‘For many people, Northern Ireland’s anomalous constitutional status within the UK for over the century since its establishment in 1920 has been even harder to grasp than its political conflicts. Lisa Claire Whitten’s careful dissection of the discrepancies between the famously ‘‘unwritten’’ British constitution and the sequence of written Northern Ireland constitutional arrangements from the 1920 Act to the 2023 ‘‘Windsor Framework’’ should provide a significant aid to comprehension as well as a helpful guide to possible future developments.’
Charles Townshend, author of The Partition: Ireland Divided 1885-1925


Since the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the constitutional status of Northern Ireland has endured an unusual level of of attention.

Northern Ireland and the UK Constitution is a concise history of Northern Ireland’s pivotal moments, from Unionist governance and the Troubles to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the Brexit referendum. Considering each development within the broader context of the UK constitutional norms and narratives, Lisa Claire Whitten explores the exceptional constitutional characteristics of Northern Ireland and the ways in which these have often resulted in a Northern Irish ‘blindspot’ in analyses of the UK and its constituent parts.

This short book considers the shifts and impacts Brexit has brought to Northern Ireland, providing a lucid explanation of the possible constitutional repercussions.

LISA CLAIRE WHITTEN is a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. Prior to entering academia, Whitten held a variety of posts in the public sector including working in Westminster and in the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels.

Co-published with The Constitution Society.

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