Previous attempts to bring peace to Northern Ireland have failed. What problems will need to be over come if the current peace talks are to succeed?
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Previous attempts to bring peace to Northern Ireland have failed. What problems will need to be over come if the current peace talks are to succeed? The troubles in Northern Ireland are fuelled by many problems. Terrorism is a key issue that brings violence and death to the Irish people, this helps keep the fear, anger, distrust and sectarianism stay in the hearts and minds of the Irish people. Political disputes between the two sides politics doesn't help solve the problem either. Arguments between the two sides only drag on the current situation and progress is not made. The same consequences appear because of the Republican/ Nationalist Unionist/ Loyalist spilt. Previous peace attempts have failed like the early Sunningdale Agreement 1973-4 and the more recent Drowning Street Declaration 1993. Problems like decommissioning still exist and the problem won't be fully achieved until more trust is gained on both sides. Others problems like splinter groups are also a big challenge. As even if main paramilitary are fully decommissioned then splinter groups still exist like the 'Real' IRA formed in 1997 a splinter group from the IRA and the Loyalist Volunteer Force formed in 1996 a splinter group from the Ulster Volunteer Force.
The terrorist activity has decreased dramatically when compared to the 1970's when it was at a peak with over five hundred people killed in 1972. There was also a lot of support locally for paramilitary because of events like Bloody Sunday. Then in 1994 both groups Republican and Loyalist declared a cease-fire. A programme was set up for the decommissioning of the IRA led by US Senator George Mitchell. Since then there has been far fewer murders, deaths and bombings. This is thanks to the 1994 cease-fire and because of the decommissioning that has been taking place. But violence hasn't just disappeared. Though there are fewer deaths there are many more punishment beatings and the numbers are spiralling out of control. Also splinter groups are remaining active. As groups are being decommissioned and agreeing to cease-fire more splinter groups are appearing to replace them. The British government is now determined for peace. It seems they have leant lessons from the past. Agreements like the Downing Street Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement have shown their long-term commitment to helping Ireland achieve peace.
In 1996 because of march riots ninety civilians and fifty RUC members were injured. This problem needs to be looked into as these marches anger and often provoke paramilitary attacks. It seems that however much progress is made or however many problems are solved new ones will appear and are created. It will be along time before anyone can even say Ireland is close to total peace. As long as Nationalists won't budge and want to have a united Ireland and as long as Unionists won't move either and want the partition to stay and Northern Ireland to stay united with the UK, the troubles won't end. If eventually people are prepared to forget the past and compromise then some kind of agreement may work. Though there are signs of development if you look at the span of time all the progress is over and compare that to how much has been made, you can see a lot more progress is needed, so a lot more time too. Agreements aren't solving everything but they are helping. As time is going on were getting closer and closer to securing peace, with more negotiations and co-operation between the politics it does seem certain that peace will one day be achieved. Jessica McDonald 01/05/2007
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