Review of Good Friday Agreement planned by Oireachtas Committee

The Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has today (Thursday) agreed to proceed with priority on a Review of the Good Friday Agreement, in the run up to its 25th Anniversary in 2023.

The Fine Gael Committee members are highlighting this as an opportunity to reinforce the achievements, aspirations and core principles of the Agreement, particularly in light of the ongoing instability caused by Brexit.

The Review will feature three elements – how the Agreement came about, the substance of the Agreement and the future, including where we go from here. Individuals the committee hopes to bring forward include both the architects of the historic agreement like Mark Durkan, David Trimble, George Mitchell, John Bruton, Bertie Ahern, Tony Blair, and key diplomats as well as current actors the from British and Irish Governments and leaders of the parties in the North.

Senator Emer Currie, Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Northern Ireland initially proposed the project last year with cross-party support North and South.

Senator Currie said, “This planned review of the Good Friday Agreement is an excellent opportunity to remember and reinforce the achievements, aspirations and core principles of the Agreement, especially in light of the ongoing instability caused by Brexit.

“The Good Friday Agreement must be one of the most referenced and debatably mis-referenced Agreements in the world. Over the past 24 years, it has served as a constant reminder that going back is not an option, but moving forward is also not straightforward.

“A whole generation has grown up having not directly experienced the horror of the Troubles, but yet instability, legacy issues and division persist. I can’t think of a better time, given the current crisis in Stormont and Brexit, to go back to the basics. Like the work involved in signing this historic accord, work done and still undone, as well as the elements that aren’t delivered the way the way they were envisaged.

“Crucially this also must be about dialogue, the importance of relationships and trust between the architects then and the actors now. The three strands will be examined, including key aspects like Designation and the parts of the Agreement have yet to be implemented like the Civic Forum, North / South Consultation Forum, a Bill of Rights and an Irish Language Act.”

Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Fergus O’Dowd said, “It’s important that we learn from the past and use those learnings to plan for a future shared island. We must work together now to achieve a brighter future for people in all communities.”

Vice Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, said, “We move towards this significant anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at a time of significant political tension. The crucial ethos of the agreement, about reconciliation, building mutual trust and understanding between communities on this island, has yet to be done. It is time to take stock and reflect on the aspirations and purpose of the Agreement with the architects of the Agreement.

“Peace was hard won, and it is just as hard protected, and we must learn from our political predecessors as we step into the next part of the life of the Agreement.”

Senator John McGahon said, “It’s important we do this project now coming up to the 25th Anniversary, with the architects who are still active and willing to reflect on progress since 1998. To hear their analysis along with the views of the current leaders will give us huge insight into today’s opportunities and challenges and will assist in paving the way forward.”

Fine Gael

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