Division on Ice: Shared Space and Civility in Belfast

Eric Lepp
2018 Journal of Peacebuilding and Development  
In Northern Ireland the Good Friday Agreement brought with it top-down political and social approaches to construct and increase intergroup contact and shared spaces in an effort to reconcile divided Nationalist and Unionist communities. In the period following the peace agreement, the Belfast Giants ice hockey team was established, and has become one of the most attended spectator activities in Belfast, trending away from the tribalism, single-space, single-class, and single-gender dynamics of
more » ... modern sport in Northern Ireland. This article utilises the setting of the Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) Arena, home of the Giants, to demonstrate normalisation of interactions occurring between supporters who are willing to purchase a ticket beside someone from which they are politically opposed. This sport and its supporters choose to enjoy the experience of the hockey game, rather than be caught in the politicized attachment of meaning expected of shared space, offering a challenge to the reconciliation-centric assumptions in post-peace agreement Belfast.
doi:10.1080/15423166.2018.1427135 fatcat:b2yh66jj2bbgrlsnckfxzc4egm