20th Anniversary Of Good Friday Agreement Today

11 April, 2018, 17:31 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Tony Blair George Mitchell and Bertie Ahern at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998

Insisting that Northern Ireland still presents many problems and opportunities for all of society to grasp, the archbishops said: 'At this present impasse in political life in Northern Ireland it is worth asking ourselves: is it because the principles and structure of the Good Friday Agreement have failed us, or, rather is it that we have together failed to make the most of those supportive principles which it offered?

One of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement has said he is sad and angry at how politics in Northern Ireland sits 20 years after the landmark deal.

But the collapse early previous year of the power-sharing administration at the heart of that deal meant there was no devolved government to greet them - and little sign of the province's Irish nationalists and pro-British unionists resolving the differences that have again divided them.

Meanwhile, Mr Blair described Brexit as a "profound mistake" and warned of challenging consequences.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to do a deal with the region's largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionists, to prop up her government has fanned nationalist rhetoric.

"But those people who are either disdainful of the challenge or dismissive, this is going to require real focus and hard work because we can not return to a hard border between north and south, it would be a disaster for the agreement and for the relationship between the Republic and the United Kingdom, and therefore for the people of Northern Ireland".

The accord included the early release of about 500 paramilitary prisoners within two years even though IRA arms had not yet been destroyed.

Prisoner releases nearly torpedoed the agreement in the final frantic hours before it was signed on April 10 1998 - Good Friday.

"We have to be very, very careful", said former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the talks that led to the agreement, when asked by Irish state broadcaster RTE if there was a danger of a return to violence.

"I hope people realise that some of the things they are saying are risky", David Trimble, head of the Ulster Unionist Party, the largest pro-British party in Northern Ireland in 1998, told RTE.

"I just trust the politicians of the day, and I am talking principally of the Prime Minister, are capable of negotiating an outcome that resolves some of these issues without some of us having to start putting up flags in order to show how British or how Irish we are in Northern Ireland".

Paramilitaries undertook to destroy weapons and the IRA did so in 2005.

It has since served as a blueprint for how to solve conflict around the world.

For more than a year, the DUP and Sinn Fein have refused to share power in Stormont.


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