AP 4-2023 top

10 April 2008 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

The Good Friday Agreement ten years on

Until the Good Friday Agreement, politics as experienced by the nationalist and republican population in the north east of our country since the foundation of a sectarian Orange state there, was one of exclusion and discrimination by a unionist regime at Stormont, repressive and coercive laws by the British Government and abandonment by the Irish Government.
Following the abolition of the Stormont regime by a British government no longer able to contain the popular revolt against the institutionalised discrimination and the violent suppression of peaceful civil rights protests, nationalists and republicans were subjected to over 25 years of British Direct Rule.
During that 25 years many attempts were made to mask the undemocratic nature of British governmental interference in Ireland by trying to cobble together political institutions dominated by the so-called ‘centre ground’ parties of the SDLP and UUP. These failed political initiatives by the British Government were never meant to build true democracy but to undermine support for the demand for Irish independence and sovereignty. They were always doomed to failure as they were premised on the exclusion of republicans.
Once the two governments accepted that they could not create stable political institutions without the participation of Sinn Féin a new political dispensation began to take form. Within seven months of Sinn Féin joining the talks process, and after decades of failure, we had the Good Friday Agreement.
Continued attempts by unionist politicians under David Trimble to manufacture crises in the process with the purpose of having Sinn Féin excluded also failed and served only to prolong the period of Direct Rule and witnessed the eventual collapse of the Ulster Unionist Party.
Sinn Féin continued to build support and to press the two governments on the issues affecting its constituency while negotiating the return of the political institutions and their all-Ireland architecture.
Last year Sinn Féin achieved what many considered impossible, a comprehensive agreement with Ian Paisley and the DUP. This essential accommodation could never have been achieved without the involvement of Irish republicans. Inclusive dialogue was the key.
After the historic deal made between Sinn Féin and the DUP last year the power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions are now in place and delivering for the people.
Sinn Féin can rightly be proud of the role it played in the course of the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement and in protecting and building on the gains made. Politics on the island of Ireland has been transformed.  With continued political focus and effort, the process of change will continue to deliver for citizens across the island in the years ahead.
The aim of Irish republicans remains a united, independent Ireland. By working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and by demonstrating the benefits of its all-Ireland aspects that Sinn Féin aims to convince more and more people of the potential of a united Ireland.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1