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North-South Legal Mapping Project


Legal systems, legal knowledge and legal networks between Ireland and Northern Ireland have, notwithstanding many points of convergence occasioned by common membership of the EU and the Council of Europe, significantly diverged for a century. Sharing a common starting point in 1922, each jurisdiction on the island has since taken its own path with little reference to the other. The potential divergence was lessened by the common requirement – for nearly 50 years – to follow EU rules as well as the practice – even in Dublin – for courts on the island of Ireland to treat the reasoning of English courts as persuasive in some fields. These points of convergence have not, however, arisen as a result of any attempt by the law in one jurisdiction to take account of the law in the other jurisdiction. The legal border on the island reflects and is reflected in a border in the minds of many – if not most – policy-makers, legislators, lawyers, academics and judges.

The North-South Legal Mapping Project (NSLMap) – funded by the Irish Research Council and the Shared Island Unit in the Department of An Taoiseach and supported by TriCON and the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Justice and Security at Queen’s University Belfast – assesses the extent of legal convergence and divergence on the island of Ireland. 19 law professors from across the island of Ireland and beyond have collaborated to write papers on a wide range of legal topics from employment law to administrative law, from citizenship law to land use law. These papers will be published in the ARINS series, with further discussion in blogs and podcasts. This research fills critical gaps in legal knowledge, as well as catalysing future collaborative research on the island of Ireland.

NSLMap has also prepared a synthesis report which launched on 3 October 2022 with contributions and reflections by leading academics Prof Colin Harvey of Queen’s University Belfast and Prof Aileen McHarg of Durham University as well as the report-authors.



NSLMap has published a report for the Shared Island Unit on Legal Convergence and Divergence on the Island of Ireland. The Report is available for download here.

TriCON will host a webinar to launch the Report on Monday 3 October, 5-6pm. Prof Colin Harvey of Queen’s University Belfast and Prof Aileen McHarg of Durham University will comment on the Report.

Please click here to sign up for the webinar.


The members of NSLMap will publish articles in the ARINS series over the next 6-12 months. We will provide links to the articles here as they are published. Each article will be accompanied by a blogpost and a podcast discussion.