Brendan O'Leary

I was wearing this jacket before Erdogan started to wear it...

Lauder Professor of Political ScienceHonorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Honorary Professor of Political Science Queen's University Belfast

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Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, Room 323

Brendan O'Leary BA (Oxon), MA UPenn (hon), PhD (LSE), DArts (UCC, hon), MRIA (hon), is an Irish, European Union, and US citizen, and since 2003  the Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author, co-author, and co-editor of thirty books and collections, and the author or co-author of hundreds of articles or chapters in peer-reviewed journals, university presses, encyclopedia articles, and other forms of publication, including op-eds. His three-volume study, A Treatise on Northern Ireland,  published  by Oxford University Press, was positively reviewed in the Dublin Review of Books, the Irish News, and the Irish Times, and in  April 2020 it received the James S. Donnelly Sr. best book prize in History and Social Science of the American Conference on Irish Studies, and paperback copies were published the same year. In 2021 he was one of the co-authors of the Final Report of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland (The Constitution Unit, UCL). He held a Fulbright Fellowship at the National University of Ireland-Galway, in 2021-22 writing a book,  Making Sense of a United Ireland, which was published by Penguin in Dublin on September 1 2022. It received the Brian Farrell best book prize of the Political Studies Association of Ireland in 2023.

Professor O’Leary is the inaugural winner of the Juan Linz prize of the International Political Science Association for contributions to the study of multinational societies, federalism and power-sharing, and in 2016 he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, principally because of his contributions to the field of power-sharing. In addition to his scholarly work, O’Leary has been a political and constitutional advisor to the United Nations, the European Union, the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, the Governments of the UK and Ireland, and to the British Labour Party (before and during the Irish peace process).

O’Leary was born in Cork, Ireland, but his early childhood was mostly spent in Nigeria. Between the ages 8 and 18 he grew up in Northern Ireland and the Sudan. He attended  St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, Northern Ireland, 1969-76, as his high school. He received the Irish Times/Trinity College Dublin all-Ireland best individual speaker prize in school debating in 1975, and the Joint Association of Classical Teachers prize for first place in Advanced level Ancient History in 1976. He won an open scholarship to Keble College Oxford University in 1977, where he was tutored by Larry Siedentop, the scholar of Tocqueville and the European Union, and by the economist Paul Collier. O’Leary graduated with a first class degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics). He wrote his PhD thesis at the London School of Economics & Political Science. Supervised by the late Professor T.J. Nossiter, it was examined by Professors Ernest Gellner and Nicos Mouzelis. It won the Robert McKenzie Memorial Prize for the best PhD at LSE presented in 1988, and was published as The Asiatic Mode of Production: Oriental Despotism, Historical Materialism and Indian History, with a Foreword by the late Ernest Gellner. In 2001 this book was elected one of 202 central works of sociology in the 20th century in the digest Schlüsselwerke der Soziologie, eds. S. Papcke & G.W. Oesterdiekhoff (eds.) (Berlin: Westdesutscher Verlag, 2001, pp. 372-4).

Between 1983 and 2002, O’Leary was on the faculty of the London School of Economics & Political Science, where he was successively Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor of Political Science; the first elected head of the LSE Government Department (1998-2001); and an elected Academic Governor (2000-1). He has been a visiting professor of political science at Uppsala University, the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and at Queen's University Belfast, and a Moore fellow at the National University of Ireland-Galway, and subsequently a Fulbright fellow at the University of Galway. He has been nominated by the Government of Ireland to be a member of the Governing Authority of University College Cork (2023-27).

Brendan O’Leary was a political advisor to the British Labour Shadow Cabinet on Northern Ireland between 1987-8 and 1996-7, advising the late Kevin McNamara and the late Marjorie (“Mo”) Mowlam, shadow Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland. He also advised Irish, British, and American ministers and officials, and the Irish-American Morrison delegation (particularly the late Chuck Feeney) during the Northern Ireland peace process. He appeared as an expert witness before the US Congress, and was a guest at the White House in 1994, 1995 and 1998. His work with John McGarry on police reform was singled out in the press for influencing the independent commission on police reform which reported in 1999 (the Patten Commission). 

O’Leary has since been a constitutional advisor for the European Union and the United Nations in the promotion of the confederal and federal re-building of Somalia, and for the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development in consultancies on power-sharing in coalition governments in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, and in Nepal. 

For the United Nations O’Leary was among the principal consultants to its 2004 United Nations Human Development Report on Culture and Liberty, co-edited by Amartya Sen. In 2009-2010 he was seconded to the UN as the Senior Advisor on Power-Sharing in the Standby Team of the Mediation Support Unit of the Department of Political Affairs.  In that capacity he had field experience in numerous conflict-sites, including in Sudan, South Sudan, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan, and chaired a seminar of the United Nations General Assembly on mediation. 

Since 2003 O’Leary has regularly been an international constitutional advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, assisting in the negotiation of the Transitional Administrative Law (2004); electoral systems design (2004-5); the Constitution of Iraq (2005); the draft Constitution of the Kurdistan Region (2005-); and in monitoring violations of the Constitution of Iraq by its federal government. He has  been an expert witness on Iraq and Kurdistan to branches of the US Government, and to the United Kingdom's Iraq Commission, and an expert witness in court cases related to Iraq's Constitution.

A  profile of Professor O'Leary by Lauren Thacker was published in Penn's Omnia magazine in Fall 2019. 

Academic Honors in the 21st century:

  • In 2002 O’Leary was a fellow at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, completing what became The Northern Ireland Conflict: Consociational Engagements
  • In 2009, Rupert Taylor published Consociational Theory: McGarry and O'Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict, Routledge, a symposium devoted to Professor O'Leary's work with his colleague Professor John McGarry.  The collection is preceded by a statement by McGarry and O’Leary, and concludes with their reply to the 16 contributions which discuss their work.
  • A paper co-authored with Dr. Paul Mitchell (LSE), Prof.  Geoffrey Evans (Oxford) won the Harrison Prize in 2010 for the best paper published in Political Studies, the flagship journal of the UK's Political Studies Association in 2009:  “Extremist Outbidding in Ethnic Party Systems is Not Inevitable: Tribune Parties in Northern Ireland.”
  • Professor O'Leary presented the Government and Opposition distinguished Leonard Schapiro lecture at the Annual Conference of the UK's Political Science Association in 2012.
  • In 2014 O’Leary won the inaugural Juan Linz prize of the International Political Science Association for contributions to the study of multinational societies, federalism and power-sharing
  • In 2014 O’Leary was a fellow at the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where, as part of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative, he gave give a public lecture , on Power-sharing in Deeply Divided Places
  • In 2016 Professor O’Leary was elected a Member of the US Council on Foreign Relations. 
  •  In November 2016 Professor O’Leary was elected an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy:
  • In February 2017 Professor O’Leary and Professor John McGarry jointly received the ENMISA Distinguished Scholar Award of the International Studies Association Conference at Baltimore “for senior scholars” for research “in Ethnicity and/or Nationalism and/or Migration studies.”
  • Between 2018 and 2022 O'Leary was World leading Researcher Visiting Professor of Political Science at Queen's University Belfast
  • in April 2020 A Treatise on Northern Ireland won the James S. Donnelly Sr Prize for the best book in History and Social Science of the American Conference on Irish Studies 
  • In 2022 O'Leary was elected an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Queen's University Belfast.
  • In 2021-22 O'Leary held a Fulbright Fellowship at the National University of Ireland-Galway.
  • In 2022 O'Leary gave the Principal Address at the invitation of President of Ireland Michael D Higgins in the fifth of his centennial seminars, publicly broadcast from Áras an Uachtaráin (the President's official residence)
  • In May 2023 at a ceremony in Cork Brendan O'Leary was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by University College Cork of the National University of Ireland for his contributions to the study of Northern Ireland and comparative power-sharing.
Office Hours
Office Hours for Fall 2023: Wednesdays, 10.30 am-Noon; e-mail me for appointments at other times

BA (hons), Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Oxford University, 1981 (First Class)

PhD, London School of Economics & Political Science, 1988, Robert McKenzie Prize

Research Interests
  • Empirical conflict research: the Irish peace process;  national reunifications; Kurdish politics in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran; Iraq's federalization; the break-up of Sudan
  • The Crises of the European Union; UKexit, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the EU-27
  • Territorial restructuring: secessions, partitions, unifications, and annexations
  • Power-sharing systems, especially in consociations and pluralist federations. 
  • Constitutional design: executives; legislatures; electoral systems; and judiciaries;  the division and sharing of powers in federations and confederations (including the EU).
  • Nationalism; national and ethnic conflict-regulation; national self-determination; minority linguistic, ethnic, religious, autonomy, and  self-determination rights; 
  • National, ethnic, and communal violence and the security sectors of divided places. 
  • Despotisms: Ancient and Modern.
  • Nations, States, and Empires: past and present.  
  • Secular and theocratic doctrines. 
  • Coalition governments
  • Theories of the democratic state


Courses Taught

O'Leary teaches regularly on The European Union and Power-Sharing in Deeply Divided Places. Intermittently he teaches courses on Genocide & Ethnic Expulsions, Nationalism and National Self-Determination, National and Ethnic Politics, Territorial Restructuring, and Great Books in Comparative Politics

Selected Publications

Books & Collections

  1. Making Sense of a United Ireland (Dublin: Penguin, 2022)
  2. Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland (Constitution Unit, UCL, 2021). With Alan Renwick, Oran Doyle, John Garry, Paul Gillespie, Cathy Gorman-Heenan, Katy Hayward, Robert Hazell, David Kenny, Christopher McCrudden, Etain Tannam and Alan Whysall.
  3. A Treatise on Northern Ireland. Volume I:  Colonialism. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  4. A Treatise on Northern Ireland. Volume II:  Control. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  5. A Treatise on Northern Ireland. Volume III: Consociation and Confederation. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  6. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Politics of Stalemate, co-edited with Karl Cordell and Stefan Wolff, (London and New York: Routledge, 2017) Special Issue of Ethnopolitics, 15, 4, also published separately as an edited volume. 
  7. The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern Ireland (London: Bloomsbury Academic Collections, 2016), reprint by a new publisher of the 2nd and updated edition by Athlone; see 19 below.
  8. Courts and Consociations: Human Rights versus Power-Sharing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), with C. McCrudden.
  9. Divided Nations and European Integration (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), Co-Editor with T. Mabry, J. McGarry and M. Moore.
  10. Power-Sharing in Deeply Divided Places (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), Co-Editor with J. McEvoy.
  11. How to Get Out of Iraq with Integrity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).
  12. The Kurdistan Region: Invest in the Future. An official publication of the Kurdistan Regional Government (London & Washington, DC: Newsdesk Publications, 2nd entirely new edition, 2009). Editor.
  13. The Kurdistan Region: Invest in the Future. An official publication of the Kurdistan Regional Government (London & Washington, DC: Newsdesk Publications, 2008). Editor.
  14. Terror, Insurgency and the State: Ending Protracted Conflicts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). Co-editor with M. Heiberg and J. Tirman.
  15. The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005). Co-editor with J. McGarry and K. Salih.
  16. The Northern Ireland Conflict: Consociational Engagements (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). With J. McGarry.
  17. Right-Sizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Co-editor with I. S. Lustick and T. Callaghy.
  18. Policing Northern Ireland: Proposals for a New Start (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1999), with J. McGarry.
  19. The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern Ireland (London & Atlantic Heights, N.J.: Athlone, pp 358. 1993, 2nd updated edition: 1996), with J. McGarry. 
  20. Decentralised Political Structures for Somalia. (London: London School of Economics & Political Science, 1995). With J. Barker et al. 
  21. Explaining Northern Ireland: Broken Images (Oxford, England, Cambridge, Mass: Basil Blackwell & John Wiley, 1995). Reprinted twice. With J. McGarry.
  22. State of Truce: Northern Ireland after Twenty-Five Years of War. Special Issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies. 1995. 18, 4. Co-editor with J. McGarry.
  23. Northern Ireland: Sharing Authority (London: Institute of Public Policy Research, 1993). With T. Lyne, J. Marshall, and B. Rowthorn).
  24. The Politics of Antagonism: Understanding Northern Ireland (London & Atlantic Heights, N.J.: Athlone, 1993)
  25. The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation: Case Studies of Protracted Ethnic Conflicts. (London & New York: Routledge, 1993). Co-editor with J. McGarry.
  26. Prime Minister, Cabinet, and Core Executive, Special Issue of Public Administration. 1990, 68, 1. Co-editor with P. Dunleavy and R.A.W. Rhodes.
  27. The Future of Northern Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) pp. 376. Foreword by Arend Lijphart. Co-editor with J. McGarry.
  28. Jack Watson's World History Since 1945 (London: John Murray, 1990). Editor.
  29. The Asiatic Mode of Production: Oriental Despotism, Historical Materialism, and Indian History. (Oxford and New York: Basil Blackwell, 1989). Foreword by Ernest Gellner.
  30. Theories of the State: The Politics of Liberal Democracy (London: Macmillan, 1987), with Patrick Dunleavy, republished 9 times. 

Selection of chapters in books edited by others, 2005-2018 

  1. 2022. O’Leary, Brendan. (2022). "Consent: Lies, Perfidy, the Protocol, and the Imaginary Unionist Veto." In The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, edited by Federico Fabbrini. The Law and Politics of Brexit, 231-51. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. 2020. "Making Constitutions in Deeply Divided Places:  Maxims  for Constitutional Advisors."  In Elgar Handbook on Comparative Constitutional Law, eds.  David Landau and Hanna Lerner: Edward Elgar.  186-211.
  3. 2018. “Nationalism and International Security.” In Alexandra Gheciu & William C. Wohlforth (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Security (pp. 415-431). Oxford: Oxford University Press. With N. Sambani
  4. 2017. “Power-sharing Executives: Consociational and Centripetal Formulae and the Case of Northern Ireland.” In Allison McCulloch & John McGarry (Eds.), Power-Sharing: Empirical and Normative Challenges (pp. 63-86). London: Routledge. With J. McGarry.
  5. 2017. “Walker Connor (1926-2017): A Tribute.” Nationalities Papers, 45(5), 725-729.
  6. 2015. “God(s) and Government(s): A Provisional Taxonomy.” In The Politics of Religion and Nationalism: Federalism, Consociationalism and Secession, edited Ferran Requejo and Klaus-Jürgen Nagel, pp. 12-35. London: Routledge.
  7. 2015. “Governing Diversity.” In Routledge International Handbook of Diversity Studies, edited by Steven Vertovec, pp. 203-15. New York: Routledge.
  8. 2015. “Traitors Within and Bridges Across Derry and Mostar. An Exploratory Comparison.” In The Politics of Identity in Post-Conflict States: The Bosnian and Irish Experience, edited Éamonn  Ó Ciardha and Gabriela Vojvoda, pp. 59-78. London: Routledge.
  9. 2012. “The Politics of Accommodation and Integration in Democratic States.” In (Eds.) A. Guelke & J. Tournon, The Study of Politics and Ethnicity: Recent Analytical Developments (Leverkusen Opladen: Barbara Budrich), pp. 79-116. In The World of Political Science: The Development of the Discipline Book Series. International Political Science Association Series (with J. McGarry).
  10. 2012.  “Partition,” in (Eds.) T. Wilson and H. Donnan, The Blackwell-Wiley Companion to Border Studies. (Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley), pp. 29-47.
  11. 2012.  “Territorial Pluralism: Its Forms, Flaws and Virtues.” In Federalism, Plurinationality and Democratic Constitutionalism: Theory and Cases, ed. F. Requejo and M. Caminal. (New York: Routledge), pp. 17-50.  (with J. McGarry)
  12. 2011. “Debating Partition: Evaluating the Standard Justifications.” In (Eds.) K. Cordell and S. Wolff The Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict  (London: Routledge), pp. 140-57.
  13. 2011. “Territorial Approaches to Ethnic Conflict Settlement.” In (Eds.) K. Cordell and S. Wolff, The Routledge Handbook on Ethnic Conflict (London: Routledge, pp. 249-65. (with J. McGarry).
  14. 2011. “Consociation and Self-Determination Disputes: The Evidence from Northern Ireland and Other Cases.” In (Eds.) K. Breen & S. O'Neill After the Nation? (London: Palgrave-Macmillan), pp. 38-59. (with J. McGarry) 
  15. 2011. “Iraq as a New Multi-National State: A Cautious Defense.” In (Eds.) K. Breen & S. O'Neill  (eds.) After the Nation?  (Basingstoke: Macmillan Palgrave), pp. 60-83.
  16. 2010. “Thinking About Asymmetry and Symmetry in the Remaking of Iraq.” In Asymmetric Autonomy and the Settlement of Ethnic Conflicts, (Eds.) M. Weller & K. Nobbs (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), pp. 183-212.
  17. 2010. “Electoral Systems and the Lund Recommendations.” In Political Participation of Minorities: A Commentary on International Standards and Practice, (Eds.) Marc Weller and Katharine Nobbs, (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 363-400
  18. 2009. “Theocracy and the Separation of Powers,” in (Eds.) M. Ferrero and R. Wintrobe, The Political Economy of Theocracy. (London and New York: Palgrave),  Chapter 1. pp. 9-30.
  19. 2009.  “Part 1. Argument. Power-Shared after the Deaths of Thousands,” in R. Taylor, (Ed.) Consociational Theory: McGarry-O’Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict. London: Routledge. pp. 13-84. (with J. McGarry)
  20. 2009. “Part III. Response: Under Friendly and Less Friendly Fire,”in Rupert Taylor ed., Consociational Theory: McGarry-O’Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict. (London: Routledge). pp. 331-388, (with J. McGarry)
  21. 2009. “Consociational Theory and Peace Agreements in Pluri-National Places: Northern Ireland and Other Cases,”in G. Ben-Porat (Ed.), The Failure of the Middle East Peace Process. London: Palgrave, pp. 70-96, (with J. McGarry)
  22. 2008 “Integration or Accommodation? The Enduring Debate in Conflict Regulation,”in S. Choudhry, (Ed.), Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation? (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 41-88. (with J. McGarry and Richard Simeon).
  23. 2008. “Complex Power-Sharing in and over Northern Ireland: A Self-Determination Agreement, a Treaty, a Consociation, a Federacy, Matching Confederal Institutions, Inter-Governmentalism and a Peace Process,” in M. Weller, B. Metzger and N. Johnson (Eds.) Settling Self-Determination Disputes: Complex Power-Sharing in Theory and Practice (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: Dodrecht), pp. 61-124.
  24. 2007. “Federalizing Natural Resources in Iraq’s Constitution,”in D. Malone, B. Roswell, and M. E. Bouillon (Eds.) Iraq: Preventing a New Generation of Conflict (Boulder, Co: Lynne Reinner), pp. 189-202.
  25. 2005. “Debating Consociational Politics: Normative and Explanatory Arguments.” In From Power-Sharing to Democracy: Post-Conflict Institutions in Ethnically Divided Societies, (Ed.) S. J. R. Noel. (Toronto: McGill-Queens University Press), pp. 3-43.

Selection of Journal Articles (1987-2022)

  1. 2022.  "Public Attitudes to Irish Unification: Evidence on Models and Process from a Deliberative Forum in Ireland." Irish Studies in International Affairs 33,  2: 246-86. (with Garry, John,  Paul Gillespie, and Roland Gjoni.
  2. 2021. "Northern Ireland’s 100th Birthday." Brown Journal of World Affairs 28,  1: 275-93. 
  3. 2021. "Getting Ready: The Need to Prepare for a Referendum on Reunification." Irish Studies in International Affairs 32,  2: 1-38.
  4. 2021. "The Perception of the Legitimacy of Citizens’ Assemblies in Deeply Divided Places. Evidence of public and elite opinion from consociational Northern Ireland." Government and Opposition 57,  3: 532-51. (with Garry, John, James Pow, John Coakley, David M Farrell, Brendan O’Leary, and James Tilley).
  5. 2020.  "Public Attitudes to Different Possible Models of a United Ireland: Evidence from a Citizens’ Assembly in Northern Ireland."  Irish Political Studies 35. (with Garry, John, John Coakley, James Pow, and Lisa Whitten).  
  6. 2020.  "The Future of Northern Ireland: Border Anxieties and Support for Irish Reunification under Varieties of Ukexit."  Regional Studies. (with Garry, John, Kevin McNicholl, and James Pow).
  7. 2020.  "Consociation in the Present."  Swiss Political Science Review 25.
  8. 2020.  "The Nature of the European Union."  Research in Political Sociology 27: 17-44.
  9. 2018. The Kurds, the Four Wolves & the Great Powers. Journal of Politics, 80 (1), 22-36.
  10. 2018. The Twilight of the United Kingdom & Tiocfaidh ár lá: Twenty Years After the Good Friday Agreement. Ethnopolitics, 17 (3), 223-242.
  11. 2016. “Why Northern Ireland's Institutions Need Stability.” Government and Opposition, 51(1), 30-58. (with C. McCrudden, J. McGarry and A. Schwartz)
  12. 2016. “Power-Sharing and Partition Amid Israel-Palestine.” Ethnopolitics, 15(4), 345-365. doi:
  13. 2016. “The Dalriada Document: Towards a Multinational Compromise that Respects Democratic Diversity in the United Kingdom.” Political Quarterly, 87(4), 5618-5633.
  14. 2014.  “The Shackles of the State and Hereditary Animosities: Colonialism in the Interpretation of Irish History.” Field Day Review, 10, 148-186. 
  15. 2012. “The Federalization of Iraq and the Break-up of Sudan: The Leonard Schapiro Lecture.” Government and Opposition.  47 (4): 481-516.
  16. 2009. “Extremist Outbidding In Ethnic Party Systems Is Not Inevitable: Tribune Parties in Northern Ireland,” Political Studies. 72, 2 (June), pp. 397-421. Winner of the 2010 Harrison Prize for the best article published in Political Studies in 2009. (with P. Mitchell and G. Evans)
  17. 2008. “Must Pluri-National Federations Fail?“ Ethnopolitics (Special Issue on Federalism, Regional Autonomy and Conflict), 8 (1): 5-26. [In June 2011 declared one of the ten best articles of the decade in this journal.] (with J. McGarry).
  18. 2007. “Analyzing Partition: Definition and Explanation.” Political Geography 26(8): 886-908
  19. 2007. “Iraq’s Constitution of 2005: Liberal Consociation as Political Prescription,” International Journal of Constitutional Law 5 (4).  [As of Dec 2010 most-cited article in the journal’s history.] (with J. McGarry)
  20. 2006.a “Consociational Theory, Northern Ireland’s Conflict and its Agreement: Part 1. What Consociationalists Can Learn from Northern Ireland,” Government & Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, 41, 1: 43-63. (with J. McGarry); 
  21. 2006.b. “Part 2. What Critics of Consociation Can Learn from Northern Ireland,” Government & Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, 41, 2: 249–277. (with J. McGarry).
  22. 2005. “Mission Accomplished? Looking Back at the IRA,” Field Day Review (March-April), 1,1: 216-46.
  23. 2005.  “Divisor Methods for Sequential Portfolio Allocation in Multi-Party Executive Bodies: Evidence from Northern Ireland and Denmark,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 49, No. 1 (January), pp. 198–211. (with B. Grofman and J. Elklit).
  24. 2004. “Stabilizing the Northern Ireland Agreement,” Political Quarterly, 75, 3 (July-September), 213-225. (with J. McGarry).
  25. 2002. “In Praise of Empires Past: Myths and Method of Kedourie’s Nationalism,” New Left Review  2nd series, 18 (Nov-Dec), 106-30.
  26. 2001. “An Iron Law of Nationalism and Federation?  A (neo-Diceyian) theory of the Necessity of a Federal Staatsvolk, and of Consociational Rescue. The 5th Ernest Gellner Memorial Lecture.” Nations and Nationalism 7 (3): 273-96.
  27. 2000. “Northern Irish Voters and the British-Irish Agreement: Foundations of a Stable Consociational Settlement?“  Political Quarterly, 71, 1 (January-March), 78-101. (with G. Evans)
  28. 20.  1999. “The Nature of the British-Irish Agreement” New Left Review 233: 66-96.
  29. 1997 “On the Nature of Nationalism: A Critical Appraisal of Ernest Gellner's Writings on Nationalism.”  British Journal of Political Science 27 (2): 191-222.
  30. 1989. “The Limits to Coercive Consociationalism in Northern Ireland.” Political Studies 37 (4): 452-68.
  31. 1987. “The Anglo-Irish Agreement: Folly or Statecraft?“ West European Politics 10 (1): 5-32.
  32. 1987. “British Farce, French Drama, and Tales of Two Cities: Reorganizations of Paris and London Governments, 1957-86.” Public Administration 65 (4): 367-89.

Professor O'Leary spent 2009-2010 on secondment as  the Power Sharing Expert in the Standby Team of the Mediation Support Unit at the Dept of Political Affairs in the United Nations.

He is the Chair of the Public Opinion Committee of ARINS (Analyzing and Researching Ireland North and South), a joint initiative of the Royal Irish Academy and the University of Notre Dame, and a member of its Steering Committee.

He is on the Governing Authority of University College Cork (as an unpaid trustee). He is also an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Queen's University Belfast.

Media Contacts:

Professor O’Leary is a former presenter on BBC Radio 4's Analysis Programme, and remains a regular broadcaster on both television and radio, and a regular public speaker. E-mail him at for availability.

Current suitable topics for interviews:  see his research interests above.

Recent (still) topical newspaper article:

O’Leary, Brendan. (2018, April 14). Brexit or UKExit? Twelve Predictions about Northern Ireland’s Future. Irish Times. Retrieved from

Supervised or Co-Supervised PhD Students:


Name (year)



Last known position

1. Woldemichael, Berhane (1985)


Decentralization in Sudan 1969-83

Consultant to the UN

2. Pareskevi (Evi)Christofilopoulou (1988)


Decentralization in Greece after the dictatorship

Deputy Minister of Education in the Greek Government

3. Lynch, Peter (1994)


From Versailles to Maastricht: Nationalist and Regionalist parties and European Integration

Senior Lecturer in Political Science, Stirling University, UK

4. McGrath, Michael (1995)


The Price of Faith: The Catholic Church and Catholic Schools in Northern Ireland •

Teacher and author

5. Mulé, Rosa (1996)


Governing Parties and Income Inequality in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada

Associate Professor of Political Science,

University of Bologna, Italy

6. O'Duffy, Brendan (1996)


Violent Politics: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Two Centuries of Political Violence in Ireland

Senior Lecturer in Politics, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

7. Papadoulis, Constantinos (1996)


National Skies in European Disguise: Air-transport Politics and Policy in the European Community

Manager in Olympic Airways

8. Malakos, Apostolis (1996)


Tocqueville: The Theorist of Democratic Modernity

Lecturer at Queen Mary & Westfield University of London, UK before being conscripted by the Greek army

9. Staab, Andreas (1997)


Separation after Unification? The Crisis of National Identity in East Germany

Founder and owner of an EU consultancy, author of a book on the EU

10. Innes, Abigail (1997)


The Division of Czechoslovakia •

Associate Professor in the Political Economy of Central/Eastern Europe, European Institute, London School of Economics & Political Science, UK

11. Youn, Miryang (1997)


Women in Two Nations and Four States: A Study of the Impact of Political Regimes and Culture and the Status of Women in the two Koreas and the two Germanies, 1945-1989

Senior Director of the Korean Ministry for National Unification (Women’s Section), Korea

12. Cavanaugh, Kathleen (1997)


Protracted Social Conflict in Northern Ireland

Director, Human Rights Centre, University of Chicago, USA

13. Tannam, Etain (1998)


Trespassing on Borders? The European Community and the Relationships between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. A test of Neo-functionalism. •

Fellow and Associate Professor in International Peace Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

14. Kissane, William (1998)


Establishing Democracy: A Comparative Analysis of the Genesis & Stabilization of Democracy in Independent Ireland, 1918-1937 •

Associate Professor of Political Science, London School of Economics & Political Science, UK

15. Totoricaguena, Gloria Pilar (1999)


Comparing the Basque Diaspora; Ethnonationalism, transnationalism and identity maintenance in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Peru, the USA and Uruguay •

The President of Transnational Initiatives consulting firm, and the former Director of Basque Global Initiatives, previously professor at Reno, Nevada, US

16. Wolff, Stefan (2000)


Managing Disputed Territories, External Minorities, and the Stability of Conflict Settlements •

Professor of International Security, University of Birmingham, UK, founding Editor of Ethnopolitics

18. Thorlakson, Lori (2001)


Federalism and Party Competition: A Comparative Analysis of Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and the United States

Jean Monnet Chair in European Politics, Director EU Center of Excellence, University of Alberta, Canada

19. Levy, Gal (2001)


Ethnicity and Education: Nation-building, State formation and the Construction of the Israeli Educational System

Senior Lecturer, Open University, Israel

20. Adeney, Katharine (2002)


Federalism and Ethno-National Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan •

Professor & Director of The Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham, UK

21. Vourkiototis, Velis (2002)


Democracy and Human Development: A Critical Empirical Investigation Using Data from 123 Countries, 1970-1990

President Game Development Group, USA

22. Kerr, Michael (2003)


The Politics of Intransigence: A Comparative Analysis of Northern Ireland and Lebanon •

Professor of Conflict Studies and Director of the Middle East & Mediterranean Studies Programme and the Center for the Study of Divided Societies, King's College, London, UK

23. Sussman, Gary (2004)


The referendum in F. W. De Klerk's war of Maneuver: An historical institutionalist account of the 1992 referendum in South Africa.

Vice President, Public Affairs at Tel Aviv University, Israel

24. Deane, Shelley (2004)


Warring Factions - Northern Ireland & Israel/Palestine

Assistant Professor Bowdoin College, Maine, US, founding Director of Brehon Advisory, now working for the University of Notre Dame on the ARINS project, Dublin, Ireland

25. Webb, Edward (2005)

U Penn

Secularization & Its Discontents (France, Turkey, Syria, and Algeria)

Associate Professor of Political Science & International Studies, Dickinson College, PA, USA

26. Mabry, Tristan (2007)

U Penn

Nationalism, Language and Islam: A Cross-regional Comparative Study of Muslim Minority Conflict •

Research Assistant Professor - Department of National Security Affairs, Executive Director Joint Foreign Area Officer Program, Naval Postgraduate School Monterrey, CA, USA

27. Saenz-Riviera, Sergio (2010)

U Penn

Centers and Border Towns: Tracing the Origins of Co-operation at the Mexico-United States Border 1521-1994

Assistant Professor in Mexico

28. Channer, Alex DR (2012)

U Penn

Defeat and Resurrection: A Political History of the Pan-Albanian Revolutionary Movement, 1912-2010 

Human rights and social impact consultant, UK

29. Stohler, Stefan (2014)

U Penn

A comparative study of the judiciary and affirmative action in the US, South Africa and India

Associate Professor of Political Science SUNY (Albany), NY, USA

30. Bateman, David (2013)

U Penn

Democratic Exclusion: Disenfranchisement in the United States, the United Kingdom and France. •

Associate Professor in the Government Department at Cornell University, NY, USA

31. Trager, Eric (2013)

U Penn

Opposition parties in Egypt under the Mubarak regime

Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Senior Staffer on Senate Foreign Relations Committee, DC, USA

32. Ford, Rahman (2015)

U Penn

Affirmative Action, Constitutions & the Disabled and Disadvantaged: A Large N study

Researcher, Writer, Editor, Philadelphia, PA

33. Garrity, Meghan M. (2022)

U Penn

Disorderly and Inhumane: Explaining Government-Sponsored Mass Expulsion, 1900-2020

Post-doctoral fellow at Belter Center, Harvard University from Fall 2022, Boston, MA, USA

Assistant Professor, tenure-track, George Mason University

34. Shils, Nathan

U Penn

Israelis and Palestinians after the Oslo Accord: Persistence, Adaptation, and the Making of Strategy in Protracted Self-determination Conflicts

Postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Center for Israel Studies, from Fall 2022


35. Renas, Sirwan

U Penn

To be determined (started Fall 2022)






  • = book published from the dissertation


CV (file)