The Irish government and the implementation of the Agreement : a political perspective ; an observer's perspective

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Title: The Irish government and the implementation of the Agreement : a political perspective ; an observer's perspective
Authors: Ahern, Dermot
Collins, Stephen
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Date: 2005
Abstract: A political perspective: The Good Friday Agreement continues to play a central role in providing a level playing pitch for the future governance of Northern Ireland. The Agreement itself was unique in being endorsed by the people of the whole island. Following the Northern Bank raid in December 2004, though, the Irish government has taken the view that the continuing existence of IRA paramilitarism constitutes the greatest obstacle to full implementation of the agreement. The debate within the Provisional movement on this subject is to be welcomed, but paramilitarism must be ended definitively. One remarkable sign of progress has been the increasing acceptance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland by nationalists, marked at an early stage by a courageous decision by the SDLP to serve on the Policing Board, a lead that should be followed by Sinn Féin as soon as possible. It will then be appropriate for the DUP, which now holds the political leadership of unionism, to reciprocate by embracing partnership politics and the reinstallation of devolution. Only the definitive end of paramilitarism and stable and inclusive politics in Northern Ireland will provide a conclusive outcome.
An observer's perspective: The May general election showed a shift in Northern Ireland in the direction of a movement that remains wedded to paramilitarism and criminality (Sinn Féin) and one which is still deeply sectarian and bigoted (the DUP). Much of the enhanced status of Sinn Féin arises from the fact that the Irish and British governments have, until recently, been prepared to overlook the criminal activities of the IRA, in the interest of keeping that movement involved in the political process. Following the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney, though, the Irish government adopted a tougher attitude, paying much greater attention to the criminal activities on which the IRA has been engaged and insisting that they must cease. Because of recent events, though, the prospects for the restoration of devolved government are slim, and further development of the North-South axis may provide the most promising way forward.
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies
Series/Report no.: IBIS Working Papers; 46; Implementing the agreement: towards completion Lecture Series
Copyright (published version): The authors, 2005
Keywords: Good Friday agreementBelfast agreementIRADUPNorthern IrelandGovernment
Subject LCSH: Great Britain. Treaties, etc. Ireland, 1998 Apr. 10
Northern Ireland--Politics and government--1994-
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Conference Details: Revised text of two lectures presented as part of the seminar series “Implementing the agreement: towards completion”, organised jointly by the Co-operation Ireland and the Institute for British-Irish Studies. The lectures were presented in UCD on 10 May 2005.
Appears in Collections:Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) Working Papers and Policy Papers

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