Sinn Féin in the EU: The Evolution of Self-Determination Policy Post Brexit

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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The European Union is the most ambitious regional integration project in the world. Yet as the supranational entity has expanded so have the number of minority nationalist parties seeking independence from their respective member states. 

There is much discussion in the literature about whether these parties trend pro- or anti-European. Sinn Féin is a Northern Irish republican party that has undergone an evolution in its EU policy. Brexit, and the related negotiations, have brought forth the issue of self-determination in Northern Ireland and the role of the European Union, twenty-years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement ended the Troubles. 

This paper traces Sinn Féin’s EU policy from 1973 to the present and finds that the party has moved from opposition to critical engagement and, now, to a more positive partnership. Sinn Féin’s EU policy in the Brexit era shows the long-term impacts of the Europeanisation of the peace process, offering an altered framework for self-determination in Northern Ireland.