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Describe and explain Unionist reactions to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998

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e) Describe and explain Unionist reactions to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 During the 1880's, the Catholic Church tried to make Sinn Fein look for a peaceful settlement. In the late 1980's, the SDLP and Sinn Fein tried to find a way forward by starting talks. At this time, the British government decided that peace could only be accomplished by getting all political parties and interests involved. The Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Brooke, tried to involve the IRA and its political voice, Sinn Fein, in the talks. Peter Brooke also said that Northern Ireland had no economic or strategic value to Britain. If at any time the majority of people in the north wanted to be part of a united Ireland, Britain would not stand in their way. At the same time, the President of the USA, Bill Clinton, was also very supportive of a way forward to a peaceful solution. During all these events the violence in Northern Ireland continued. Talks between the Southern Irish and the British governments led to the Downing Street Declaration in 1993, where both sides showed a motivation to look for a peaceful solution to the problems. ...read more.


said 'you are talking and getting nowhere, you have until Good Friday to sort something out' and so progress began to take place. This is where the title for the agreement came from. The Unionists wanted their own parliament (Stormont) but Sinn Fein wanted a whole parliament so that Dublin could have a say in the running of Northern Ireland. The Unionists were not happy with this idea, if Dublin had a say in the running of their country, they may be treated unfairly and thought it was unfair that any one county should have a say in the running of another. The Irish Government were unimpressed with the British offers in the talks and the Unionists were furious when a document was drawn up with Tony Blair and Southern Ireland so that the Republic had a say in the North. The Unionists felt betrayed by Britain, who was meant to be fighting on their side. The Republic then offered to drop the subject of becoming a united Ireland on the condition that Northern and Southern bodies got together to run Northern Ireland. The Unionists were mad and rejected the proposal, saying they wanted Southern Ireland to have no say in their country. ...read more.


However, the anti-agreement Unionists won as many seats as Trimble's supporters. In the first two weeks of July, Loyalists opposed to the agreement set up roadblocks and carried out attacks on Catholic homes across the province. One house was even petrol-bombed by Loyalist paramilitaries during the night - three children were burned to death in the blaze. There was also opposition to the agreement among Republicans. The IRA refused to even think about decommissioning their weapons. Some IRA members went further. Feeling that the Republican cause had been betrayed, a splinter group calling itself the 'Real IRA' began carrying out car-bombings in an attempt to disrupt the peace process. The 1998 Nobel Peace prize was awarded jointly to John Hume of the SDLP and David Trimble of the Ulster Unionists. However, it remained very difficult to apply the Good Friday Agreement. For the agreement to work, the Unionists had to sit with Sinn Fein members in a Northern Ireland executive. Pro-agreement Unionists accepted to do this, but on the condition that the IRA disarmed. The IRA, however, refused to give up their weapons, although they eventually agreed to allow weapons dumps to be inspected. After further lengthy negotiations, a power-sharing executive at last began an uncertain on-off existence in December 1999, but the Unionists were reluctant participants. ...read more.

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