“An exploration of the main elements of Need Theory that align with causes of conflict and Need Theory as a conflict resolution approach to be applied to the analysis of resolution of Northern Ireland Conflict”.

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Maria Jaqueline Fiuza
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The objectives of this research are an exploration of what are the main elements of need theory that align with the causes of conflict in the Northern Ireland Conflict and whether Need Theory as an approach can be applied to an analysis of the resolution of the Northern Ireland Conflict. The methodological approach of this study was based on constructivism philosophy that is a type of perspective that combines with interpretivism, interpretive because researchers have to make sense of the subjective and socially created meanings that people have about the phenomenon they are studying. Consequently, the method chosen was qualitative research and a deductive approach testing an existent theory and as a strategy the analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict as a case study, encompassing the period of the partition of Northern Ireland- 1920 to the Good Friday Agreement and its implications up to present day. The collection of primary data was through semi-structured interviews, where five people were interviewed, two from Republic of Ireland and three from Northern Ireland. The main finding of this study is that the primary cause of the conflict was the clash between two groups with different identities, over the Northern Ireland constitution. Catholics/ nationalists connected with Irish/Catholic identity, as a result, wanted to be part of the Republic of Ireland, and Protestant/unionists connected with British/Protestant identity, that wanted to maintain a constitutional link to Britain, identity needs being the main link with BHNs theory. Also, the causes of conflict were over inequalities, which can be linked to distributive justice need, along with meaning need, due to the lack of participation of the Catholics/nationalists in the political system, security in the first place associated with Unionists that monopolized the political power, but with the escalation of the conflict going to extreme violence was a need of society as a whole. Thus, the BHNs approach can be applied as an approach to the analysis of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Also, the paired role of the British and Irish governments, John Hume advocating to push the peace process along with the openness of the unionist leader David Trimble were a crucial to getting the agreement ratified. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the causes of deep-rooted conflicts that are intrinsically connected with basic human needs that are ignored by social structure- political systems, being actors of the conflict co-dependents on social structure and social structure dependent on the actors, since the actors are an intrinsic part of it.
Fiuza, 2022