The Cadogan Group was formed in Belfast in 1991, its members motivated by a shared unhappiness about overall British government policy on the Northern Ireland crisis at the time, and uneasiness with the analysis on which this was based. Their concern was that a widespread consensus as regards the problem, its origins and its solution, shared by many observers and commentators, was deeply flawed. The Group brought together a small nucleus of people, mainly academics, with the purpose of trying to provide a rigorous intellectual analysis of the Northern Ireland situation. The Group sought to employ the collective expertise of its members, in the fields of politics, history, economics and administration, in dispassionate examination of the various proposals and policies put forward in relation to the Northern Ireland problem.
At the outset the Group stated its intention to try to ‘hold to realism and discard any analysis or agenda stemming primarily from either a unionist or a nationalist philosophy’. It sought to base its views on what was most likely to produce long-term peace and stability in the region, and not on what was most likely to achieve a political end, whether it be preservation of the Union, or the achievement of Irish unity. The individuals forming the group came from various political backgrounds, and the group itself had no affiliation to any political party; their chief aim was to stimulate debate in a situation where official policy was too often presented as being the only way forward.
The founder members of the Cadogan Group, were, in alphabetical order,
Arthur Aughey, Paul Bew, Arthur Green (d. 2006),Graham Gudgin, Dennis Kennedy and Patrick Roche. Also involved at later stages were Colin Armstrong Jim Hamilton, Henry Patterson and Bill Smith.
Between 1992 and 2005 the Group published nine pamphlets. The death of Arthur Green in 2006 was a serious loss at a period when developing professional careers meant several members had less time for Group activities. Members of the Group continue to meet informally, if increasingly infrequently.