Editorial: Spirit of the Good Friday Agreement demands the restoration of powersharing and end of DUP boycott

As arguably the defining event of modern Irish history, the Good Friday Agreement is undoubtedly worthy of significant appraisal as it passes its 25th anniversary.

US President Joe Biden's visit last week, with its centrepiece address at the new Ulster University campus in Belfast, acted as a catalyst for reflection and celebration. That mood has continued at Queen's University Belfast this week.

The QUB conference has brought together many of the key players who were involved in forging the Agreement that eventually emerged on April 10 1998. The starry political cast has included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern. Senator George Mitchell, without whom the Agreement could not have happened, made an inspirational and moving return to Belfast.

Sadly, those whose shoulders carried perhaps the heaviest burdens during that period - John Hume and David Trimble - are no longer with us, and there is no doubt that their genuinely historic efforts and visionary leadership made Northern Ireland a better place for all its citizens.

There have been aspects of the event which some will find unusual, such as the involvement of figures who actively campaigned against the Agreement and who say they remain its avowed opponents.

And while there is value in poring over 1998's momentous events, there is always the risk that such extensive coverage could lead to Good Friday Agreement fatigue - or worse, cynicism, particularly when celebration and congratulation is juxtaposed with the stark reality of a Stormont that has been mothballed for more than a year and a political system that has too often become a byword for dysfunction and ineffective government.

The DUP's nonsensical boycott of the Assembly and Executive has to be regarded as the chief reason for the current moribund plight of the Agreement institutions. Its stance has looked increasingly illogical and petulant since the Windsor Framework deal was struck between the EU and the British government, especially when a return to Stormont is the party's inevitable destination.

In a message aimed at the DUP, secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris, speaking at the QUB conference, said that to "put the Union first" meant restoring devolution and getting "on with the job of delivering for the people of Northern Ireland".

Whatever one's view of the Union, it is clear that the public has become collateral damage in the DUP's self-indulgent grudge matches with the EU, the British government and even - in some distasteful commentary from senior figures last week - President Biden.

The spirit of the Good Friday Agreement as well as the north's people deserve better.