Good Friday Agreement can still 'transform society and life', say Primates

11 April, 2018, 17:30 | Author: Orlando Hughes
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"Compromise has to become a good thing, not a dirty word and voters have to stop punishing people who make those compromises and start rewarding them", said Clinton, whose role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is celebrated as one of the key legacies of his chequered presidency.

In a statement marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, and the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke, joined together "to give thanks to God for all that has been achieved in building peace since that historic moment" when the agreement was signed on 10th April 1988.

Former US president Bill Clinton, ex-British prime minister Tony Blair and former Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be at the conference.

Despite this, the future of Stormont is again hanging in the balance after it collapsed over a year ago.

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

The peace deal, committed Northern Ireland's political parties to resolving political issues by democratic and peaceful methods and it effectively brought an end to "The Troubles", which resulted in the deaths of 3,532, the majority of whom were civilians.

However, he maintained that the Good Friday Agreement was robust enough to weather the challenges of Brexit and that a solution would be easy.

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The deal also covered the re-establishment of devolved powersharing at Stormont and establishment of cross-border political bodies with the Republic, and led to a root-and-branch reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) into the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Some unionists pointed the finger instead at the Irish government, saying its suggestion that Northern Ireland might be governed by European Union rather than British regulations - or that it might unite with the Republic of Ireland in the coming years - risked inciting pro-British militants.

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

While some division remains in Northern Ireland - politicians and faith leaders have worked tirelessly to ensure peace reigns.

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

"The Tory government has actively encouraged the most negative, intransigent and sectarian elements of political unionism to attack and undermine the Good Friday Agreement", Gerry Adams, the former Sinn Fein leader who also helped negotiate the agreement, said in a speech on Tuesday.

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

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