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How has Northern Ireland changed since the Good Friday Agreement, and what previous attempts at peace have there been?

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Introduction

QUESTION THREE Despite the historic and on going problems in Ireland, there have been attempts at long-standing issues involved in the "Troubles", which began in 1969. Prior to the Good Friday Agreement there were others, which looked promising yet couldn't make a lasting impact. The Power-Sharing Executive and the Sunningdale Agreement, of 1973, won over moderate unionists and nationalists, but not the more intransigent loyalists and republicans, as they couldn't accept the terms given, and eventually a strike on the loyalist behalf took place, where the UVF forced people to join, showing that paramilitary groups influenced decisions and were unwilling to compromise. Another attempt was the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, this also involved co-operation between Northern and Southern Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland would decide the future, which was unacceptable to Republicans, this shows that they weren't willing to compromise, and still couldn't accept Northern Ireland. The Downing Street Declaration didn't involve a new government, yet tried to respect all traditions and rejected any parties that used violence; therefore the UVF and IRA called a cease-fire. This attempt at peace was the most successful, however it proved unsustainable, as steadfast loyalists and republicans outside of paramilitary groups took it upon themselves to use violence, showing that violence will be near impossible to remove and even when paramilitaries make compromises, others don't. ...read more.

Middle

Also, some republicans and loyalists will never make compromises; therefore there will always be opposition, leading to violence. Yet in August of 2005 the IRA released a statement claiming that, for the first time, they were fully committed to achieving peace, this was followed by a great act of decommissioning, and confirmed by a Protestant vicar, as again information was not allowed to be presented to the media. One major issue with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement was the promise of early release of prisoners, which could be classed as insults to the families, both unionist and nationalist, of victims of violence. However the release of prisoners symbolises the end of the troubles and if this is what it would take to rid the country of violence and to make a better world for people to live in, it had to be time to forgive and forget, although it would be very hard. For lasting peace a full decommissioning of all weapons from either side needs to be ensured; if it means release all prisoners than this must be done, however, this would need an increase in security, as violence could easily return. ...read more.

Conclusion

The most important unresolved issue is the matter of paramilitary groups. Although there is no outstanding violence occurring at present, these groups are the most fragile pillars in the peace process, and any minor compromise can cause upset and in there case a violent reply. To bring lasting peace I think that members of paramilitary groups need to be kept on watch in order to ensure that they are in keeping with the peace process. Furthermore, especially in the case of the Orange marches, where loyalist groups could potentially spark off the "troubles" once again, therefore the issue of marching may be an even more significant unresolved issue, as it is the most difficult to create a happy atmosphere on either side. In summary, I have learnt that history is incredibly important in Northern Ireland, as it signifies itself as a country; knowing your background is vital to the way in which you lead your life, and the beliefs that you have. If it wasn't for certain events in history, Northern Ireland wouldn't exist, therefore knowing of such events is crucial in order to be patriotic and have pride in where you came from as well as resolving long standing issues such as the "Troubles". ...read more.

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