Who Voted for Peace? Public Support for the 1998 Northern Ireland Agreement

Bernadette C Hayes, Ian McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The April 1998 Good Friday Agreement represents the most promising attempt in 30 years to settle the Northern Ireland conflict. Yet for more than a year after it was ratified by an overwhelming majority of voters, its key principles remained unimplemented, and on two occasions the executive has been suspended. In this article we examine public support for the Agreement and analyse the patterns of voting in the referendum. Using the 1998 Northern Ireland Referendum and Election Survey, we show that while almost all Catholics voted for the Agreement, only 57 percent of Protestants did so, and many of those expressed widespread concern and indecision. For Protestants, a yes vote in the referendum reflected a desire for the return of devolved government, the perception that the Agreement represented a 'new beginning', and trust in David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader. Catholic views of whether the Agreement would bring Irish unity centred on territoriality issues. The absence of widespread, cross-community support for the Agreement's key principles helps to explain the difficulties in both establishing and maintaining a devolved, powersharing executive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-93
Number of pages21
JournalIrish Political Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


Dive into the research topics of 'Who Voted for Peace? Public Support for the 1998 Northern Ireland Agreement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this