Twentieth anniversary of historic Good Friday Agreement sees Stormont still in limbo
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade says all sides can still recapture that ‘spirit of 1998’
By Bernard Purcell
The Good Friday Agreement, twenty years old this week, still holds the key to unlocking Northern Ireland’s present political difficulties, says Ireland’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Simon Coveney in this week’s Irish World.
And it can be done without compromising anyone’s identity or traditional beliefs, he says. Despite the various anniversary celebrations and retrospectives Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions remain in limbo while the region’s two biggest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, are unable to agree to share power.
The 2007 successor to the Good Friday pact, the St Andrew’s Agreement, changed the original rules skewing Stormont and the Executive to the two biggest parties and paved the way for Sinn Fein and the DUP to divide power between them for the next decade until last year.
But Mr Coveney says he believes a subsequent all-party pact to that, the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, holds the key to saving the original 1998 deal and moving forward.
“The spirit of 1998…requires a move ahead now with the process to establish the legacy framework of the Stormont House Agreement to finally address the legacy of the Troubles in a comprehensive way that will meet the legitimate needs and expectations of victims and survivors, who are still, unjustly, left waiting,” he writes.
Mr Coveney says: “The genius of the Agreement is that it allows us to live together on these islands as friends and neighbours, without in any way diminishing our identities or cultures – Irish, British, both or neither.
“A more complex set of identities and allegiances is possible through the Agreement and can only enrich us all,” he writes.