This paper examines whether neo-liberalism is becoming hegemonic in Northern Ireland. It analyses the regional government's nascent commitment to free-market solutions (public–private partnerships and neo-urbanism) to ameliorate decades of social inequality and civil conflict and to contribute towards social reconstruction. Noting the hybrid and contradictory aspects of neo-liberalism, it is argued that rather than being evidence of a complete ‘roll out’ of neo-liberalism in Northern Ireland, it rests uneasily with an economy fettered by its reliance on the public sector as well as forms of segregation that duplicate public services. Although some commentators argue that neo-liberalism is rupturing the hitherto tight link between the nation-state and citizenship to weaken the basis upon which national identities rest, the paper notes the discrepant ethnonational views of neo-liberalism as well as conflicts over urban regeneration. The paper also investigates whether processes of urban regeneration act as a ‘mask’ to cover the intensification of poverty, segregation and exclusion that affect working-class urban districts.