Ten Key Points to Mark The Signing of The Good Friday Agreement Today in 1998
Today in 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
Here are ten key points to understanding why it remains the way forward.
1) The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to the longest period of continuous conflict in Irish history. A generation has now grown up not knowing conflict.
2) The Agreement remains the most successful foreign policy initiative in a generation. The US, under the leadership of President Clinton, enabled ceasefires and appointed Senator George Mitchell as an envoy. He successfully chaired the negotiations to reach an agreement.
3) All major parties and both governments took part in the negotiations and signed up to the Agreement except for the Democratic Unionist Party which walked out of the negotiations and has never signed up to the agreement (despite serving in its institutions).
4) The Agreement was overwhelmingly passed by a referendum in the north (71.1% voted ‘Yes’) and endorsed in a constitutional referendum in the South (94.4% voted ‘Yes’). It is a binding legal agreement between both Governments.
5) The Agreement commits all parties and governments to promote reconciliation and the vindication of the rights of all, oppose violence, and promote politics free from threat.
6) Policing reform is explicit in the agreement. This led to the formation of a new police service and greater accountability. The process continues.
7) The agreement places Irish Unity in the hands of the people, with future Unity Referendums, North and South. The governments are obliged to legislate on the will of the people.
8) The Institutions of the Agreement are like a three-legged stool with interlocking and independent bodies within the north, between North and South, and between the Island of Ireland and Britain.
9) The DUP in Government refused to attend meetings of the North/South bodies, an action that was found illegal in the courts.
10) The Agreement is the primary legal process for managing politics today and into the future. The truly transformative power of the agreement is a peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish Unity.
Some continue to oppose the Good Friday agreement and its principles of equality and power-sharing. They are a small minority who cannot be allowed to win.
We remain focused on the truly transformative power of the agreement. Irish Unity is provided for in the agreement. We are the generation that can secure unity by peaceful and democratic means.