1988 Agreement Signed to Ease Political Conflicts in Northern Ireland

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What was the Good Friday Agreement? In fact, the Good Friday Agreement 1988 signed to ease Political Conflicts in Northern Ireland. Now, let us talk about that here so you are going to get some information related to the Good Friday Agreement 1998.

The Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement 1998

The Belfast Agreement is also known as the Good Friday Agreement as it was reached on Good Friday, 10 April 1998. The Good Friday Agreement was an agreement between the British and Irish governments, and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, on how Northern Ireland must be governed. The talks which led to the Agreement addressed the problems that had caused conflict during previous decades. The main goal was to establish a new devolved government for Northern Ireland in which the unionists and nationalists would share authority. Aside from that, the agreement made some institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and also between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The problems related to sovereignty, demilitarization, decommissioning of weapons, civil and cultural rights, justice and policing were pointed to the Good Friday agreement.

1988 Agreement Signed to Ease Political Conflicts in Northern Ireland

Based on the research, the Good Friday Agreement was approved by the voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, the voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum if they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, the voters were asked if they would let the state sign the agreement and make necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it. The people of those two jurisdictions were required to approve the agreement to give effect to it. Later, the British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. The Democratic Unionist Party was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to defy the Good Friday Agreement.

There are two main political parties to the Good Friday Agreement. Those were the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) that led by David Trimble and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) that led by John Hume. The two leaders of political parties won the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize together. The other parties involved in achieving the agreement included Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and also the Progressive Unionist Party. Later, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) became the largest unionist party that did not support the Agreement. It dropped out of talks after Sinn Fein and the loyalist parties joined forces, as the republican and loyalist paramilitary weapons had not yet been disabled.

History and Process of the Good Friday Agreement 1998

Once the Irish Free State was founded in 1922, under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, there were six of the island’s northern counties selected to remain part of the United Kingdom. For Northern Ireland, the decades which followed were marked by tensions and controversies, occasionally spilling over into violence, between the unionists who favored remaining with Britain and the nationalists who favored unification with the Irish Free State. Starting in the 1960s, this conflict became more intense and more violent. In the next 30 years more than 3500 deaths were attributed to this hostility which became known as The Troubles.

In the late 1980’s, serious political efforts to solve the conflict began and continued through the 1990’s. Later, the Cease-fires were declared and broken. The agreement came after many years of complex talks, proposals, and compromises. Lots of people created major contributions. For your information, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were leaders of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland at the time. The talks were chaired by United State special envoy George Mitchell.

Structure of Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998:

  • A multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland’s political parties (called the Multi-Party Agreement);
  • International agreement between British and Irish governments (Known as the British–Irish Agreement).

That agreement set out a series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

  • The system of government of Northern Ireland within the UK (United Kingdom).
  • A relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • A relationship between Republic of Ireland and the UK (United Kingdom).

Parties and Structure of the Government

The Good Friday Agreement was created between the British and Irish governments and 8 political parties (or groupings from Northern Ireland). We get information that there were three parties that representative of unionism. Those are the Ulster Unionist Party that had led unionism in Ulster since the beginning of the 20th century. Others are smaller parties which are associated with Loyalist paramilitaries. Two were labeled nationalist broadly: the Social Democratic and Labour Party, and also Sinn Fein, the republican party associated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Apart from those traditions, there are other Assembly parties, the cross-community Alliance Party and also the Women’s Northern Ireland Coalition. Besides, there is a Labor Coalition of grouping. United States Senator George Mitchell was sent to chair the talks between the parties and groups by the US president Bill Clinton.

The Good Friday Agreement comprises two elements. The two elements can you see in the text below:

  • A treaty between the two states, that signed by the leaders of the two governments.
  • A substantial agreement between eight political parties and the two governments.

For your information, the former text has only four articles. That short text which is the legal agreement, however it incorporates in its schedules the latter agreement. Technically, the scheduled agreement is able to be distinguished as the Multi-Party Agreement, as opposed to the Belfast Agreement itself.

The vague wording of several of the provisions, explained as Constructive ambiguity, that helps make sure acceptance of the agreement and serves to suspend debate on some of the more contentious issues. Mainly this includes the paramilitary disbandment, police reform and normalization of Northern Ireland.

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