GFA20

Good Friday Agreement: Your thoughts on the 20th anniversary of its signing

Former US peace envoy to Northern Ireland George Mitchell views a projection of former SDLP leader John Hume during an exhibition entitled The Keeper by Amanda Dunsmore at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Picture by Niall Carson, PA
Digital Staff

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TODAY marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. 

The peace accord brought an end to the Troubles, established a power sharing government and gave hope that future generations could live together free of sectarian violence. 

We asked you to submit your thoughts on the agreement beginning with the phrase `The Good Friday Agreement was...'

Here's a selection of your comments.

  • Elaine McElroy's husband of three years, Brendan McKenna, was shot dead by loyalists near Comber in June 1993.

She wrote that the Good Friday Agreement was "the best way forward at this time".

"My husband was a 28-year-old lorry driver, an innocent Catholic working out of east Belfast... shot dead. He had no interest in politics and we were only married three years with our whole lives ahead of us. He treated everyone equally and we had many friends from the Protestant divide. I cried when the Good Friday Agreement was signed thinking 'wish this had happened five years ago'. However, if it was a price to pay for peace to avoid more innocent people being murdered then it's a price to pay.

"I think the politicians should get their heads out of the past and move forward for the good of the country but it's obvious they can't so get out and let someone else do it. If we as victims of the Troubles can move on so should they. I have children now and I want them to have a future in the north of Ireland not growing up with what I had to. I'm 55 so I've come through it all. God made everyone equal so let us live equally. We came into the world with nothing and we sure as hell will leave with nothing." 

  • Downpatrick teenager Aodhan (18) wrote:

The Good Friday Agreement was "Essential in ending the violence in Northern Ireland. Nobody had to die for a united Ireland and no-one had to die for a United Kingdom. The Good Friday Agreement means that atrocities like Kingsmill and Loughinisland will never happen again. The Good Friday Agreement also means that I can walk up to school in a Roman Catholic uniform without being afraid of being shot, killed or blown up simply for being a Catholic. It also means that we car partake in a shared education project with a school that was typically Protestant dominated. Such a project has enabled us to attend the GFA2O event in Queen's University, Belfast to see former US President Bill Clinton. I strongly believe that had Bill Clinton not been elected president the Good Friday Agreement would not have happened."

  • A 52-year-old man from north Belfast remarked on the cultural changes in Northern Ireland.

"I attended a packed house at SSE arena when U2 played there not long ago. It was a wonderful experience, just one plus of many created by the Good Friday Agreement."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"At the time an opportunity to build peace and equality, the air was full of optimism. I returned home from abroad with my new baby born 1998. It has proven to be one depressing illusion sadly."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"Driven by people who had never lived in Northern Ireland and was supported by Northern Irish dreamers. Northern Ireland as an entity was from the outset unviable socially and economically. For unionists it is preferable to stay in the UK because it pays the bills. The GFA is collapsing because Northern Ireland is ungovernable. The border encloses two large and mutually incompatible populations, and while an invisible border eases the tensions it does not eliminate them."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"Good until now"

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A carefully choreographed deception to allow convicted sectarian child killers and 'on the runs' to get out of gaol without any evidence of a grain of remorse for their cowardly and heinous acts of depravity towards innocent civilians. Four months after signing the Belfast Agreement, Irish nationalists murdered 31 innocent civilians in Omagh."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A failure to address the real issues."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"And is a legally binding agreement voted for by over 70% of people of the north. All outstanding aspects of it should be implemented without delay."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"I totally support the GFA, it need to be fully implemented, it was hard won but is our only hope for a peaceful co operative , co existence in this shared and disputed province. I campaigned for it and believe it did not fail but was betrayed by elements of unionism - not least the DUP who benefitted from it but refused to agree it."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"Relevant for the time. Times have changed."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A monumental example of an armistice. It was welcomed by all but extreme bigots and stopped the Troubles. We now have a situation as per WW1 where we see the British actively trying to 'win' the truce and keep their part in the Troubles secret. The GFA was a necessary, brave and inspiring act by both the negotiators and the population. Republicans willing to set aside physical force action against the state, accepting the principle of consent and moving towards politics was a move they didn't need to take, as well as unionists allowing political prisoners to be set free was equally as impressive. Those who seek to scrap it would be making a foolish error."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A good agreement for all the people of Ireland north and south. It falls down because the British goverment did not carry out what they signed up to with regard the past etc." 

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A pledge from both governments in their determination to continue to respect equal rights for all and ensure equality and peace."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"The answer to the people's wishes and should be fully implemented."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"It stopped the killing, sort of, but delivered nothing else. The fact of the matter is that Northern Ireland is completely and utterly dysfunctional, relying entirely upon the British tax payer. I think it would be unfair on the Republic to take ownership of this tinpot country as they would have to fork out for it assuming it could. Let it go its own way and cut a path for itself."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A new beginning for all."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A sop to republicans to stop bombing the mainland. Mandatory coalition. Recipe for disaster. This area's prisoners voted no and the vast majority of North Antrim voted no. Scrap it now."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"The only way to achieve peace at that time."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"The opportunity for the younger generation, it is being ridiculed by the older generation. I’ve lived 2/3rds of my life in a peaceful prosperous society, that’s a success."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A lame deal that most supported out of a hunger for peace. There were was no economic dimension. The focus was on neutralising militant republicanism and copperfastening partition. A sanitised peace has evolved, but many fundamental social, economic, political and cultural issues have been ignored."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A great idea."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"Good Friday Agreement should be adhered to in every word, it’s the greatest thing in 20 years."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A take on. I voted against it then and I'd vote against it again. Terrorists in government is never a good idea. 20 years later we're no further on."

  • The Good Friday Agreement was:

"A milestone event in Northern Ireland's political history."

If you would like to contribute you can do so here

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