From backdoor to backstop: the Irish-British-European triangle

From backdoor to backstop: the Irish-British-European triangle

From backdoor to backstop: the Irish-British-European triangle
Friday 24 September 2021, 2.00pm to 2.50pm BST
Past event
Past event
Friday 24 September 2021, 2.00pm to 2.50pm BST
  • aerial image of Europe
Open to: 
Alumni and guests
Social sciences

This panel will look at the inter-relationship between the Irish Question, the British Problem and the European balance of power. For more than five hundred years, from the Reformation, through the Napoleonic period and the the great confrontations of the twentieth century, the relations between London and her rivals in Europe have fundamentally shaped the settlement on the island of Ireland. We will explore what that tension meant in the past and what it might portend for the future.

From backdoor to backstop: the Irish-British-European triangle


Professor Brendan Simms (Peterhouse 1989)

image of brendan simms

Brendan Simms is Professor of the History of European International Relations and Director of the Centre for Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge. He is also founder and President of the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank devoted to the spread of democracy and human rights worldwide, and President of the Munich-based start-up think tank Project for Democratic Union, which seeks to establish a single Eurozone state on the lines of the Anglo-American unions. His publications, which have been translated into many languages, European and non-European, include Europe, the struggle for supremacy, 1453 to the present day (Penguin Press, 2013), Britain’s Europe. A thousand years of conflict and cooperation (Penguin Press, 2016) and (with Benjamin Zeeb) Europa am AbgrundPladoyer fuer die Vereinigten Staaten von Europe (C.H. Beck, 2016). His most recent book is Hitler. Only the world was enough (Penguin Press, 2019). His current concern is how to establish a new order for the continent after Brexit which recognises both Britain’s power and her interest in the success of the European integration project.

Dr Niamh Gallagher (St Catharine's 2009 and Fellow of St Catharine's)

Niamh Gallagher

Niamh Gallagher is Lecturer in Modern British and Irish History. Her first book, Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History (Bloomsbury, 2019) won the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize. She is co-editor of The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution with Richard Bourke (forthcoming, CUP) and has written on the cultural and social history of the First World War. Niamh has appeared regularly on media, most recently on Michael Portillo's documentary, Partition, 1921. She is a member of the Independent Historical Advisory Panel for Northern Ireland and contributor to the President of Ireland's Machnamh 100 series. Niamh leads The Mether Initiative at St Catharine's College.

Professor Helen Thompson (Clare 1994 and Director of Studies at Clare)

Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson is Professor of Political Economy. She has been at Cambridge since 1994 and is at present Deputy Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a regular panelist on Talking Politics.

Helen’s present work is focused on the historical origins of the post-2008 economic and political world and the crises it is generating for western countries. More particularly her recent work covers the political economy of oil, Brexit and the euro zone crisis.

Lord Bew (Pembroke 1968 and Honorary Fellow of Pembroke)

Image of Lord Bew

Lord Bew is Emeritus Professor of Irish Politics in Queen's University Belfast. Lord Bew has long been a distinguished scholar of Irish politics and history, even serving as a historical adviser to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in 1998–2001. He has published numerous well-known works, including The Making and Remaking of the Good Friday Agreement (2007), Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006 (2009), and Enigma: A New Life of Charles Stewart Parnell (2011), which was named by the Sunday Times as a biography of the year. His latest monograph is Churchill and Ireland (2016). Lord Bew is also a life peer in the House of Lords, and currently serves as the chair of the House of Lords Appointment Commission, having previously chaired the Committee on Standards in Public Life (2013–18).

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Events Team