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Why is the Good Friday Agreement proving so difficult to implement?

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Introduction

Why is the Good Friday Agreement proving so difficult to implement? The Good Friday Agreement was voted on by a relatively large turnout of 68.8% in 1998 and was rejected by a significant 29% of people in Northern Ireland. For the past six years it has proved to be difficult to implement and there are a number of reasons for this. The emphasis on issues raised in the agreement has changed over the years and some are proving to be more difficult to implement than others. A major area within the Good Friday Agreement is the setting up of an Assembly. Hard line Unionists such as the DUP refuse to accept the Assembly. They refuse to sit at a table with Sinn F�in in cross party talks while they argue that Sinn F�in still have links with the IRA. The DUP's mindset has been created by fifty two years of unionist rule. They do not wish to accept principles contained within the agreement which they feel they have already rejected in the 1974 power sharing executive. The DUP are now offering a full re-negotiation of the agreement and their slogan for the last elections was, 'It's time for a new deal.' There are deep divisions within the official unionist party. ...read more.

Middle

Contained within this was the removal of a number of elements that unionists felt they could identify with. Symbols such as the badge and the uniform were dropped. The title 'Royal Ulster Constabulary' was dropped and this offended many unionists who considered themselves to be British subjects. Some feel that is disrespectful to those who were killed in the line of duty and to their families. Some nationalists are happier with the reforms than others. Sinn F�in say that the reforms don't go far enough and refuse to sit on the District Policing Partnership. Many still associate the RUC with years of repression and injustice. This dates back to the formation of the state when the UVF was drafted into the B-Specials. Controversial policies from the security forces such as 'Shoot to kill' and internment have furthered nationalist hatred over the years. There are now widespread allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries. The high profile murders cases of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane and also of Rosemary Nelson are currently under the spotlight. Under the agreement is the early release scheme of paramilitary prisoners. People feel uneasy with convicted murderers walking the streets. Victim's families on both sides of the political divide feel insulted by this clause. This has been made worse by continued paramilitary activity and the continuing loyalist feud in particular. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example the DUP rarely refer to the Good Friday Agreement as that but more commonly the Belfast agreement due to the religious element. Nationalists are further antagonised by the DUP referring to Sinn F�in as Sinn F�in/IRA. Gerry Adams famously said that the struggle was not over but had merely changed. Flags are another area where there is disagreement. Alex Maskey flew the Irish Tricolour in the Lord Mayor's office in Belfast City Hall. This was a contentious issue as unionists felt that it undermines the union with Britain. The Union flag was taken down at Newtonards council offices and unionists are currently campaigning to have it raised again. The flying of paramilitary flags particularly around the marching season upsets and provokes nationalists who feel threatened by such and obvious display of paramilitary strength. The agreement could now be said to be more difficult to implement than before due to the recent election results. The middle ground lost out while extremists at the opposite end of the political spectrum gained votes. The DUP have a majority of 33 seats and Sinn F�in has 27. This perhaps suggests that more moderate voters have become disillusioned and no longer believe in the capabilities of their politicians to do their job. There could be a feeling of apathy towards the peace process. However this does not mean that peace is not obtainable in Northern Ireland and with hard work and co-operation it is achievable. ...read more.

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