Brendan O'Leary

For the Irish hurler, see Brendan O'Leary (hurler).
Brendan O'Leary

Brendan O'Leary
Born 19 March 1958
Citizenship Irish
Alma mater Keble College, Oxford, London School of Economics
Occupation Academic
Employer London School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania

Brendan O'Leary (born 19 March 1958) is an Irish political scientist, who is Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He was formerly a professor at the London School of Economics. In 2009–10 he was the second Senior Advisor on Power-Sharing in the Standby Team of the Mediation Support Unit of the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations.


O'Leary is the author of numerous influential books about the Northern Ireland conflict, many of them co-authored with John McGarry, whom he met when they both attended Saint MacNissi’s College.[1][2] McGarry and O'Leary's Policing Northern Ireland: Proposals for a New Start (Blackstaff Press, 1999) is considered to have had a significant influence on the work of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland.[3] He has been an international advisor to the Kurdistan National Assembly, responsible for advising on the constitutional reconstruction of Iraq and Kurdistan, with special responsibility for federal arrangements and electoral laws.[4] He has also advised the United Nations, the European Union and the UK's Department for International Development.[2] Previously, he was a policy advisor to the British Labour Party, and political advisor to Mo Mowlam and Kevin McNamara during their respective spells as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.[4] In the course of his career he has supervised more than thirty doctoral dissertations, including those of political scientists Stefan Wolff, Katharine Adeney, Lori Thorlakson, Shelley Deane and Tristan James Mabry.

In both his own writings and those with John McGarry, O'Leary has long backed consociationalism as a method of conflict management for Northern Ireland, and is supportive of the Good Friday Agreement.[5][6] In this regard, Arend Lijphart has been a significant influence on O'Leary's work.[2][6] In 2009, a book entitled Consociational Theory: McGarry and O'Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict was published, edited by Rupert Taylor.[7] He is also the author of How to Get Out of Iraq with Integrity (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). Recent books include "Power-Sharing in Deeply Divided Places" (co-edited with J. McEvoy), "Divided Nations and European Integration" (co-edited with T.Mabry, J.McGarry and M. Moore), and "Courts and Consociations" (coauthored with Christopher McCrudden).


  1. "Brendan O'Leary". Penn Program in Ethnic Conflict. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  2. 1 2 3 McDermott, Peter (2009-02-11). "Ethnic conflict specialist proposes Iraq withdrawal". Irish Echo. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  3. Barry White (1999-09-18). "Patten...finding the gems in the detail". Belfast Telegraph.
  4. 1 2 "Brendan O'Leary, CV" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania Political Science Department. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
  5. O'Leary, Brendan (1989). "The limits to coercive consociationalism in Northern Ireland". Political Studies. 37 (4): 562–587. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.1989.tb00289.x.
  6. 1 2 McGarry, John; O'Leary, Brendan (2006). "Consociational theory, Northern Ireland's conflict, and its Agreement. Part 1: What consociationalists can learn from Northern Ireland" (PDF). Government and Opposition. 41 (1): 43–63. doi:10.1111/j.1477-7053.2006.00170.x.
  7. Taylor, Rupert, ed. (2009). Consociational Theory: McGarry and O'Leary and the Northern Ireland Conflict. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-42913-7.

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