The Good Friday Agreement Allowed For What

In the absence of progress in the dismantling of weapons, the Assembly and the executive were suspended on 11 February. After lengthy negotiations, the IRA allowed two international arms inspectors, former African National Congress (ANC) negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, to verify that the weapons could not be used “fully and in a detectable manner.”1 For the first time, the IRA opened its arms depots to two international observers. In their two-page report to the IICD, the observers said they observed that “weapons and explosives were stored safely and adequately”2 The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on Good Friday, April 10, 1998. It consists of two closely related agreements, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Multiparty Agreement. It led to the establishment of a de decentralised system of government in Northern Ireland and the creation of many new institutions such as the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, the North South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council. The conference will take the form of regular and frequent meetings between the British and Irish ministers to promote cooperation between the two governments at all levels. On issues that are not left to Northern Ireland, the Irish Government may present positions and proposals. All decisions of the Conference shall be taken by mutual agreement between the two Governments and the two Governments agree to make determined efforts to resolve disputes between them. The IRA renewed its ceasefire on 20 July 1997, paving the way for Sinn Féin to be associated with the bipartisan talks that had 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 agreement process. . . .

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