Architects of Good Friday Agreement mark 20th anniversary

11 April, 2018, 13:52 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Blair in front of his handwritten pledge released ahead of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement.     Chris Bacon  PA Archive

It's 20 years since politicians from Northern Ireland, as well as the British and Irish governments secured the Good Friday Agreement.

The US senator who successfully chaired talks leading to the Good Friday agreement has said that London and Dublin should put aside their disagreements over Brexit to protect the deal.

A number of key players involved in the deal including ex-prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern and former US Senator George Mitchell will also be among the guests.

The power-sharing executive established in Belfast as part of the accord broke down more than a year ago and the two sides remain divided over issues including the Irish language.

"The lesson with these things.is that once you've got a viable peace process you've got to just work at it and work at it and realise that the right comparison is with what things were like during the course of the Troubles", Mr Blair told the BBC's Today programme.

He was joined in Belfast by other political leaders at the time, including the then United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair and his former Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern.

"It didn't see an end to paramilitarism, it didn't see the promised political stability that the agreement heralded and here we are 20 years on from the agreement without a government", he said.




In a joint statement, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin and his Church of Ireland counterpart Archbishop Richard Clarke said the peace the accord brought to Northern Ireland "took a great effort to achieve" and they warned that "it will equally take risk, and leadership at all levels, to maintain".

He said: "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".

Noting the aims of the Good Friday Agreement - addressing "contentious political problems in the context of decades of violence, divided communities and huge suffering and death" - the Primates acknowledged the complexity of the document, adding that it was also controversial in places.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Trimble said those who suggest it is are trying to "advance their own anti-Brexit policies".

The Republic of Ireland dropped its constitutional claim to the six counties that form Northern Ireland.

He also urged the people of Northern Ireland to "inspire" again and ensure that the next generation is also free to enjoy peace.

Mr Clinton and Mr Mitchell will later receive freedom of Belfast awards at a special ceremony at the Ulster Hall.

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