Political Communication in the Republic of Ireland
9 July 2014
From Whence I Came
14 February 2022

From Partition to Brexit

From Partition to Brexit: The Irish Government and Northern Ireland

From Partition to Brexit: The Irish Government and Northern Ireland  is the first book to chart the political and ideological evolution of Irish government policy towards Northern Ireland from the partition of the country in 1921 to the present day. Based on extensive original research, this groundbreaking work assesses the achievements and failures of successive Dublin administrations, evaluating the obstacles they faced and the strategies used to overcome them. Challenging the idea that Dublin has pursued a consistent set of objectives and policies towards Northern Ireland, this timely study reveals a dynamic story of changing priorities. The picture that emerges is one of complex and sometimes contradictory processes underpinning the Irish government’s approach to the conflict.

Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews, the author explores and explains the gap between the rhetorical objective of Irish unity and actual priorities, such as stability within Northern Ireland and the security of the Irish state. The book explains why attempts during the 1990s to manage the conflict in Northern Ireland ultimately proved successful when previous efforts had floundered. Identifying key evolutionary trends, From Partition to Brexit demonstrates how in its relations with the British Government, Dublin has been transformed from spurned supplicant to vital partner in determining Northern Ireland’s future, a partnership jeopardised by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.



Enthralling, insightful and meticulously researched. Anyone who wants to understand how successive Irish Governments have engaged with Northern Ireland should read it.
Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach, 1997-2008


Brilliant, lucid and thought-provoking – required reading for anyone who wants to understand relations between these islands and the importance of the Border.
David McCullagh. Presenter of Prime Time, and Political Correspondent with RTÉ News


Donnacha Ó Beacháin’s work is not just welcome: it is vital. It points to the necessity for British–Irish understanding and dialogue, and it identifies the past mistakes which are best avoided at this time of immense political and constitutional uncertainty.

– Mary C. Murphy, European Political Science, March 2020


One of the most striking features of Ó Beacháin’s timely overview is his assured tone on a particularly contentious topic. This reflects his experience in researching and writing on the complex, multi-faceted problem … This is a work of mature assessment and often unexpected nuance … Given the extraordinary breadth of the topicits fresh take is rooted in the careful selection of items for the author’s skilful assessment … By accessing and presenting information from private correspondence, memoirs, state papers and “on the record” interviews, Ó Beacháin manages the feat of making numerous original contributions to an already massive bibliography of the wider subject … A well-written and compelling narrative.

  • Ruan O’Donnell, Studi irlandesi. A Journal of Irish Studies 11/1 (June 2021) 499-501


This work is the first of its kind to chart the political and ideological evolution of the Irish state’s official attitude to Northern Ireland from 1920-2018 … Ó Beacháin is amply qualified for this task. His previous publications … confirmed his place as one of Ireland’s prominent scholars in the field of modern Irish history and politics … [a] masterly dissection of the primary and secondary sources.

  • Stephen Kelly, Irish Literary Supplement, Fall 2020 p. 15


From partition to Brexit gives an excellent insight into how past experience of dealing with Northern Ireland has shaped the political landscape south of the border.

  • Patrick Mulroe, Irish Historical Studies, May 2019


successfully expose[s] . the true extent of the [Irish Government’s] ambivalences and inconsistencies, using an impressive wealth of archival material in both Britain and Ireland unavailable to an earlier generation of researchers.
Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Times, 5 January 2019


The book is superb for anyone who wants to know why Ireland is where it is now and how the two parts of Ireland have treated each other for nigh on to a century.
Frank MacGabhann, Irish Examiner, 23 February 2019


Ó Beacháin has broken new ground and provided a useful map for a generation of political scientists and historians
Seán Donlon (former Secretary-General of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs), History Ireland, March-April 2019


Ó Beachain’s familiarity with the subject and impressive archival research deserves recognition for composing a text that is both enjoyable and informative … Ó Beacháin’s sharp wit and eye for an entertaining quotation penetrates the weighty subject matter with great success
Aaron Ó Maonaigh, The Irish Story (July 2019)


Given the fine manner in which Ó Beacháin has explained the Northern Ireland policies of successive Irish governments, he would be ideally placed to write the next chapter of that history.
– Ian Kenneally Small States and Territories (November 2019) pp. 202-203.


… provides not only a new perspective on the history of Northern Ireland, but also a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings and identity crises of the Irish government itself … essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the full sweep of Northern Ireland’s troubled near-century of existence.

  • Professor Mark Doyle, Irish Studies Review, June 2019