Budapest Post

Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate
Budapest, Europe and world news

Architects of Northern Ireland peace see hope beyond Brexit deadlock

Architects of Northern Ireland peace see hope beyond Brexit deadlock

A quarter of a century after unpalatable compromises ended decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland, some of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement hope that deal can help inspire a route out of the region's near-permanent political crisis.

In April 1998, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern helped Irish nationalists and British unionists craft an intricate powersharing deal that paved the way for militants on both sides to lay down arms.

The peace has utterly transformed the region, largely ending three decades of bitter violence that killed 3,600.

But the devolved powersharing government was struggling even before Britain's vote to leave the European Union altered the delicate political balance on the island of Ireland, and some fear the current boycott by the region's once-dominant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could prove fatal.

Those who remember the repeated false dawns of 25 years ago are more sanguine.

"Nothing's ever irresolvable" said Blair, summing up the stubborn optimism many developed working in Northern Ireland at the turn of the millennium.

"Today... it's still very fraught but I think there's a depth to the process. There are roots that have been put down that I don't think anyone on the island of Ireland really wants to disturb," he told Reuters in an interview. "People realise that to go back to the past would be a complete disaster."


One source of the current political crisis is the sense that Brexit and its fallout have upset some of the balance of the 1998 deal - specifically the principle of cross-community consent embodied in a requirement for major legislation to be supported by a majority of both nationalists and unionists in the devolved assembly.

Nationalists, who are mostly Catholic, say Northern Ireland was wrenched from the EU in a UK-wide vote even though its smallest region voted 56% to 44% to remain.

Unionists, who are mainly Protestant and largely backed Brexit, say the imposition of trade barriers with the rest of the United Kingdom in a bid to avoid a hard border with EU-member Ireland was done without their consent.

That prompted the DUP to collapse powersharing a year ago, a position it has doubled down on in recent weeks in the wake of a reworking of post-Brexit trade rules under a compromise known as the Windsor Framework brokered by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

With the DUP saying it won't return until major changes are made to the deal, and London and Brussels ruling that out, there appears no room for compromise. One DUP lawmaker said the EU-UK deal had effectively "ripped up" the 1998 accord.

The DUP was the only major party not to participate in the 1998 negotiations, but it later joined the powersharing government and went on to supplant the more moderate Ulster Unionists as the main voice of Protestant voters.

"There is an exhaustion and frustration," at the DUP's repeated objections, said Ahern, Irish prime minister from 1997-2008.

"But I've always looked on this in a pragmatic way that if there's a problem, try to fix it and I think we have to try and fix it. It's doable. It's bordering on the ridiculous, but let's try and do it."


Many have identified the compulsory coalition that gives the largest party on either side of the sectarian divide the power to pull down powersharing as a key stumbling block to progress.

That, coupled with the rise of the Alliance party, which identifies as neither nationalist or unionist, has sparked calls for an overhaul of a political architecture premised on a society divided in two.

"There's no such thing as status quo. You're either going forwards or backwards," said Ahern, who believes a review is needed. "If you stand still, what happens is eventually you fall over."

The rules around devolution have already been changed in 2006 to overcome an earlier suspension.

But Blair said all sides must "proceed really carefully" with any reform and that the Brexit row has to be solved first.


Gerry Adams, another key player in the 1998 talks as head of the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, said he would be "very, very dilatory about making changes to the Good Friday Agreement".

But he said if the DUP, the key rival of his Sinn Fein party, does not re-enter government, other options would have to be considered.

"If they are not going to do so, then let them tell us that and then we'll all move forward into a different architecture because there can be no going back to what's described as direct (British) rule," Adams told Reuters.

Adams, who has always denied membership of the IRA, is also optimistic, but for a different reason: his party has said it expects the British government to call a referendum on Northern Ireland breaking away from British rule within a decade.

The 1998 agreement requires London to call such a vote if it seems likely a majority would back Irish unity.

"Sands are shifting," said Adams.

Despite the current crisis, "a space has been opened up where people can moderate our differences politically", the former Sinn Fein leader said.

"We have been able to develop a pathway to change which will lead to greater change, I believe, in the time ahead."

AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

Budapest Post
America's Got Talent…
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
Elon Musk Meets Chinese Finance Minister in Beijing
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Hold Power Talks with President Biden in Washington
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Climate cultists thought they had sabotaged another beautiful event — then the cameraman had his revenge.
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Is Saudi Arabia the holiest place in the world? Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions from "The Mount Sinai Stand" Discovered in Saudi Arabia
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
WATCH THIS: democracy in Russia is so bad!
Ed Davey: It is possible for a woman to have a penis
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Steve Jobs introducing Apple's iPhone, exactly 16 years ago.
China overtakes Japan as world's top car exporter
Elon Musk's SpaceX and Italy's Unipol join forces to help Italians hit by flooding
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a warm welcome at an Arab summit in Jeddah
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
Vienna: Passenger Plays Hitler Speeches on Train, Causes Panic
The official tapes of Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll battery (rape) and defamation case have been released.
King Charles III being crowned.
Newly released video of Donald Trump’s rape trial deposition:
Video: Ukraine MP Punches Russian Representative At Global Meet
El Paso mayor has declared a state of emergency
Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones in an attempt to kill Putin
Ahead of King Charles’ coronation, British guards rehearse in the middle of the night in London
Dutch court orders man who fathered 550 kids to stop donating sperm
Kim Kardashian Lookalike Christina Ashten Dies Of Cardiac Arrest, Hours After Plastic Surgery
Samsung has banned employees from using generative AI services such as ChatGPT
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers