What Did the Good Friday Agreement Say about the Border

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6 This very brief historical outline of the evolution of cross-border social and trade flows since 1973 shows that the socio-economic normalisation of the Irish border is not only the result of European decisions and influences. This is above all the direct result of the evolution of relations between London and Dublin on the Northern Ireland issue in the wider European context. As the Irish border has been an internal European border since 1973, it has made it easier for the two northern Irish states and communities to reach a balanced political compromise on the pan-Irish and internal dimensions of the Northern Ireland problem.4 The agreement establishes a three-pronged framework for the creation and number of institutions. After years of stalemate, the UK government has committed to introducing legacy-related institutions as part of the January 2020 agreement to restore Stormont, as outlined in the 2014 agreement. However, uncertainty remains, particularly over how Johnson`s government will handle investigations into former members of the British security services for their actions in the Northern Ireland conflict. As part of the agreement, the British Parliament repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (which had established Northern Ireland, divided Ireland and claimed a territorial claim over all of Ireland) and the people of the Republic of Ireland amended Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland, which affirmed a territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The overall result of these problems was to damage 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. The UUP had already resigned from power-sharing in 2002 after the Stormontgate scandal, in which three men were accused of gathering information. These charges were eventually dropped in 2005 on the controversial grounds that the persecution was not „in the public interest”.

Immediately afterwards, one of the accused Sinn Féin members, Denis Donaldson, was denounced as a British agent. But there are no specific obligations on what this should mean in terms of border. The vague wording of some of the provisions, described as „constructive ambiguity”[8], helped to ensure acceptance of the agreement and postponed debate on some of the most contentious issues. These include paramilitary dismantling, police reform and the standardisation of Northern Ireland. These institutional arrangements, created in these three areas, are defined in the agreement as „interlocking and interdependent”. In particular, it states that the functioning of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the North/South Council of Ministers is „so closely linked that the success of the other depends” and that participation in the North/South Council of Ministers is „one of the essential responsibilities associated with the relevant posts in [Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland]”. The result of these referendums was a large majority in both parts of Ireland in favour of the agreement. In the republic, 56% of voters voted, with 94% of the vote in favour of the constitutional amendment. Turnout in Northern Ireland was 81%, with 71% in favour of the deal. Both views were recognized as legitimate.

For the first time, the Irish government has agreed in a binding international agreement that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. [9] The Irish Constitution has also been amended to implicitly recognise Northern Ireland as part of the sovereign territory of the United Kingdom,[7] subject to the consent of the majority of the inhabitants of the island`s two jurisdictions to a united Ireland. On the other hand, the wording of the agreement reflects a shift in the legal focus on the UK from one for the Union to one for a united Ireland. [9] The agreement therefore left open the question of future sovereignty over Northern Ireland. [10] The British government is virtually out of the equation, and neither the British Parliament nor the British people have the legal right under this agreement to impede the achievement of Irish unity if it had the consent of the peoples of the North and South. Our nation is and always will be a nation with 32 counties. Antrim and Down are and will remain as much a part of Ireland as any other county in the south. [20] The previous text contains only four articles; It is this short text that is the legal agreement, but it contains in its annexes the latter agreement.

[7] Technically, this envisaged agreement can be distinguished as a multi-party agreement as opposed to the Belfast Agreement itself. [7] The agreement was concluded between the British and Irish governments and eight political parties or groups in Northern Ireland. Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the beginning of the 20th century, and two small parties associated with loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA)). Two were commonly referred to as nationalists: the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the Republican Party linked to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. [4] [5] Regardless of these rival traditions, there were two other assembly parties, the Inter-Community Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition. There was also the Labour Coalition. U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell was sent by U.S. President Bill Clinton to chair talks between parties and groups.

[6] The Belfast Agreement is also known as the Good Friday Agreement because it was concluded on Good Friday, April 10, 1998. It was an agreement between the British and Irish governments and most of Northern Ireland`s political parties on how Northern Ireland should be governed. The talks that led to the agreement focused on issues that had led to conflicts in recent decades. The aim was to create a new decentralised government for Northern Ireland in which unionists and nationalists would share power. He said any new border infrastructure would be seen as a „free game” for attacks by dissident Republicans. While much of the concern has focused on the border with the Republic of Ireland, there are already signs that the Northern Ireland Protocol – and its new border controls in the Irish Sea – could rekindle tensions with Protestants in Northern Ireland: April 2021 saw the worst street violence in Belfast in decades. Many trade unionists, including the DUP, have backed Brexit as a way to get closer to the UK, but the protocol has angered them. They fear that any distinction between their region and the rest of the UK will widen a wedge between them and see the new border controls in the Irish Sea as a betrayal of London. Analysts say that while the spark of the April riots was anger at Republican officials who are breaking pandemic-related lockdown rules, the root cause is a growing sense of grief among Protestants that the Brexit deal and the Good Friday deal themselves do not represent their interests. 19 The question of the Irish border after the referendum must be regarded as an integral part of that phenomenon and not as a completely new issue.

The difficulty of finding an amicable solution to the Irish border problem is just another consequence of the sectarian polarisation that has been entrenched in Northern Irish politics since 1998. Although there was a 56% cross-border majority in Northern Ireland in favour of remaining in the EU, and although both sides openly agreed after the referendum on the need to keep the border open, mainly for economic and commercial interests26, it proved absolutely impossible to turn this fragile consensus into a long-term inter-party and inter-communal united front on the border issue. The main obstacle to this front was the continued divergence in the constitutional position of the border between the two sides of the sectarian division. After the Brexit referendum, Sinn Fein, followed by the SDLP, very quickly called for a border vote to reunite Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. On the trade union side, the DUP and the UUP have reiterated loud and clear their demand to remain an integral and undifferentiated part of the BORDERLESS UK in the Irish Sea. After more than twenty years of political cooperation between local elites within a power-sharing Northern Irish democracy, there has been no real rapprochement between the two communities on the fundamental question of the constitutional status of the Irish partition border. 14 As a common and reciprocal redefinition of British and Irish sovereignty in Northern Ireland, the GFA was therefore a surprisingly incomplete and incomplete constitutional process. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom and its mystery on the Irish border show that the 1998 agreement did not go far enough to provide for an explicit, indisputable and constitutionally binding (re)definition of the dublin and London obligations as co-sovereign states guaranteeing the agreement.

The agreement reaffirms the commitment to „mutual respect, civil rights and religious freedoms of all members of the community.” The multi-party agreement recognised „the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance with regard to linguistic diversity”, in particular with regard to the Irish language, Ulster Scots and the languages of other ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland, „all of which are part of the cultural richness of the island of Ireland”. In the context of political violence during the unrest, the agreement committed to „exclusively democratic and peaceful means of settling disputes over political issues.” .

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