Devolution in Northern Ireland followed directly from the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday)Agreement which provided, inter alia, for a democratically elected Assembly ``inclusive in itsmembership, capable of exercising executive and legislative authority, and subject to safeguards to protect the rights and interests of all sides of the community''. More than six years on, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly are in suspension for the fourth time (the latest since October 2002).The conjunction of devolution and the implementation of the Agreement mean that the former is wholly dependent on the vagaries of the latter and, as a consequence, has devalued the potential of devolution to improve the governance of Northern Ireland.
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This research paper is one of a series of outputs from Knox and Carmichael emerging from their ESRC grant on Devolution and Constitutional Change. Knox has led on this paper which explores how the inextricable link between the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the emergence of devolution as a constitutional initiative can limit the capacity of the former to improve the governance of Northern Ireland.