The Good Friday Agreement Text

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or the Belfast Agreement (irish: Comhaonté Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaonté Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots: Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance)[1] is a couple of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that put an end to most of the violence of the Troubles, a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had erupted since the late 1960s. This was an important development in the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s. Northern Ireland`s current system of de-decentralized government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. This conference takes 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 not left to Northern Ireland, the Irish government can present views and proposals. All decisions of the Conference are taken by mutual agreement between the two governments and the two governments, in order to make resolute efforts to resolve the differences between them. The participants in the agreement were composed of two sovereign states (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland), with armed forces and police forces involved in the riots. Two political parties, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), were linked to paramilitary organisations: the IRA (Commissional Irish Republican Army) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had withdrawn from the talks three months earlier. The agreement was for Northern Ireland to be part of the United Kingdom and remain in place until a majority of the population of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise. If this happens, the British and Irish governments will be “obliged” to implement this decision.

As part of the agreement, the British Parliament repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (which had founded Northern Ireland, divided Ireland and asserted territorial right to the whole of Ireland) and the people of the Republic of Ireland amended Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution, which asserted a territorial right to Northern Ireland. Issues of sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, dismantling of arms, demilitarization, justice and police were at the heart of the agreement. Since the Good Friday Agreement links the British government to several legal issues in Northern Ireland, it is a de facto part of the United Kingdom Constitution. The right commentator David Allen Green described it as “a central constitutional text of the United Kingdom and Ireland […] of more everyday importance than sacred instruments such as, say, Magna Carta of 1215 or the Bill of Rights of 1689.” [29] The agreement was reached between the British and Irish governments as well as eight northern Ireland political parties or groups. Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the early 20th century, and two small parties linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).