Good Friday Agreement Made Simple

The agreement contains a complex set of provisions relating to a number of areas, including: the political parties in Northern Ireland, which endorsed the agreement, were also invited to consider the creation of an independent consultation forum, staffed by members of civil society with social, cultural, economic and other competences, and appointed by both administrations. In 2002, a framework for the North-South Consultation Forum was agreed, and in 2006 the Northern Ireland Executive agreed to support its establishment. The agreement reached was that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and would remain so until a majority of the population of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland wanted something else. Should this happen, the UK and Irish governments will be required to “have a binding commitment” to implement this decision. Participants in the agreement consisted of two sovereign states (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland) with armed men and police forces involved in the riots. Two political parties, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), were linked to paramilitary organisations: the Commissional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (EIE). The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), together with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had withdrawn from the talks three months earlier. The agreement consists of two interconnected documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998: the IRA renewed its ceasefire on 20 July 1997, paving the way for Sinn Féin to be involved in the discussions between the parties begun under Mitchell`s chairmanship. However, the issue of dismantling remained in place and the British and Irish Governments tried to give the problem instead of letting it derail again.

As a result, Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) left the talks and never returned. The DUP refused to make concessions on Northern Ireland`s constitutional position or negotiate with Sinn Féin, which it considered a terrorist. Although deeply unhappy, the more moderate UUP remained in the discussions. Faced with the DUP`s stated desire to halt the talks, Mitchell later wrote in his memoirs that his decision to withdraw had indeed helped the deal process. However, it is expected to have a lasting influence on Northern Ireland`s policy, as the DUP`s opposition to the Good Friday Agreement has severely hampered its implementation. Sinn Féin ran on 15 September 1997, after signing the Mitchell Principles, she took part in all-party talks. The overall result of these problems was to undermine unionists` confidence in the deal which was exploited by the anti-deal DUP, which eventually overtook the pro-deal Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the 2003 general election. .

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