ARINS: A View To Ireland’s Future

Peter Donnelly, Editor

The Royal Irish Academy’s inter-disciplinary and cross-sector project Analysing and Researching Ireland North and South (ARINS) is examining the crucial constitutional, political, social and economic issues affecting Ireland, north and south, with a keen eye to events which inevtiably face society in the future.

ARINS is one of a number of academic and cross-sector projects focusing on the future of Ireland, north and south. The leaders of the project emphasise the fundamental importance to prepare for change, using research such as that emanating from ARINS, making it easier for citizens to make informed future decisions.

Launched in January 2021, ARINS is a multi-disciplinary and a public and private sector response to the tumultous political and constitutional events that have enveloped the island of Ireland over the past five years. From the decision of the United Kingdom people to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit Referendum, the consequent humdrum negotiations of the UK-EU withdrawal negotiations and the live wire that was the ‘Irish border’ issue within those talks, the eventual Withdrawal Agreement in 2020 to the Covid-19 pandemic, ARINS is covering a wealth of ground.

The project, which is a partnership between the Royal Irish Academy and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, aims to independently explore a variety of research-based questions on the pressing constitutional, institutional, economic, fiscal and social issues facing Ireland, north and south, and offer policy solutions in these areas.

Since its inception, ARINS has attracted a wide range of leading academic and voices in these areas. Research contributions are published monthly in the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Studies in International Affairs journal, which is edited by the director of the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction at Dublin City University, John Doyle.

To date the initiative has received contributions from academics from Queen’s University, including Dr. Katy Hayward (Professor of Political Sociology), Professor Christopher McCrudden (Professor of Human Rights and Equality Law), Rory Montgomery (Honorary Professor, George Mitchell Institute) and Mary O’ Dowd.

Academics and contributors from other institutions include Jennifer Todd, University College Dublin, Brendan O’ Leary, Lauder Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Fidelma Ashe, reader in Politics at the University of Ulster and member of the University’s Transitional Justice Institute, former Queen’s University history professor and now Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, Alvin Jackson and The Irish Times’ prominent journalist and columnist, Fintan O’ Toole.

The impetus for such projects as ARINS, and a core theme running throughout its work, is the necessity to appropriately consider, debate and plan for inevitable change and evolution on the island of Ireland.

Cathy Gormley-Heenan, a member of ARINS’ Steering Committee and Advisory Group and also Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and External Affairs at Ulster University underlined how ARINS will focus on the totality and inter-dependency of relationships between Britain and Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and those crucial ones within Northern Ireland.

A Post-Brexit Landscape

ARINS places a particular emphasis on the anaology with the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum, where commentators have argued, although controversially, that the public were not sufficiently informed to make such a momentous decision as to leave the EU.

Therefore the consideration of the potential for a prospective referendum on the matter of a ‘united’ Ireland is at the forefront of ARINS’ deliberations; although the project is keen to emphasise that it is neutral on “unification.”

Ms. Gormley-Heenan underlined the inter-disciplinary and cross-sector nature of the endeavour saying that “authoritative, independent and non-partisan analysis and research on constitutional, institutional and policy options for Ireland, north and south” are essential in a post-Brexit environment.

ARINS additionally aims to focus on considerations regarding the future of the Union which remain front and centre of contemporary political and academic discourse.


ARINS: Find out more

You can find out more about ARINS, its various contributors, research and events at its dedicated site on the Royal Irish Academy’s main website, here.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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