Social policy in Northern Ireland offers examples of social policies strongly influenced by ideological considerations. There are a number of factors which determine how susceptible services and policies are to ideological influences. Some services are particularly sensitive to ideological values and demands, for example, education. In certain areas the distribution of services and the allocation of resources has been significant in maintaining the political structure. The distribution of administrative responsibility, the absence of pressure from Britain for maintaining parity in social services, and the absence of non-secretarian pressures on the government are other significant factors. The process of analysing problems and formulating social policy reflects deep ideological divisions. This can be contrasted with the rational, empirical and pragmatic models of policy making, implicit in the development of social policy in Britain. With some minor modifications the British model of the Welfare State operates in Northern Ireland. In some areas it operates to serve ends other than those of redistribution or meeting social need. This provides insights into some of the assumptions made about social policy and the Welfare State in Britain.