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What Events Made The Signing Of The Good Friday Agreement Possible?

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Introduction

What Events Made The Signing Of The Good Friday Agreement Possible? In this essay I will look into the reasons that the political and religious climate was right to allow the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. I believe it was because of a number of reasons: how the Agreement itself lead to it's signing; comparison with previous agreements; the role of key individuals; the role of the international community; the role of ordinary people and; the attitude of religious and political factors. Of these factors I believe the most important one to be the last, the attitude of religious and political factors at the time leading up to the signing. The problem before the signing was that there was widespread violence and civil disorder. There were many religious problems between Protestants and Catholics causing fear, mistrust and anger. The economy in Northern Ireland was failing and a very bad crop caused widespread famine which England did little to help, leading to the view that "God sent the potato blight, the British Government sent the famine". ...read more.

Middle

and the Downing Street Declaration(1993). The main points of the Sunningdale Agreement were to undermine support for the IRA, give the Nationalist community a say in Northern Island, stop Nationalists turning to the IRA and to offer peaceful help to Catholics in Northern Island. It failed mainly because of a Unionist strike encouraged by Loyalist paramilitaries, MP's resignations and the continuation of Direct Rule. Following the attack on a Brighton hotel that almost killed Mrs. Thatcher in 1984, the Anglo - Irish Agreement was initiated to try and stop the IRA's campaign of violence. This failed because the violence did not stop and the IRA was still active. The Downing Street Declaration was to stop extremist groups on both sides and to please the ordinary civilians that wanted a stop to violence. It also failed because the violence didn't stop. From these failures it was possible to realise that one reason that the previous agreements had failed was that they did not include the paramilitaries in the talks, by including them violence could be drastically decreased. ...read more.

Conclusion

The role of ordinary people in Northern Ireland also helped pave the way to peace. People like Betty Williams (Peace People) and Gordon Wilson (daughter was killed in Enniskillen bombing) tried to increase understanding between communities. The attitude of religious and political factors, I believe, was the main point that made it possible for the signing of the agreement to go ahead. The politicians were relatively calm and no major incidents had happened recently. Religious attitudes were starting to accept partition and view it as, not a 'necessary evil', but one which was 'here to stay'. Because of this and the fact that people were not at each other's throats the level of understanding and acceptance was high enough to allow the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. In conclusion, as I said earlier in my essay, I believe that the most important point is that the attitudes of politicians and the church were 'chilled out' enough to allow the signing of the agreement. Thomas Hall 11DC 5.11.03 ...read more.

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