Northern Ireland Assembly: The Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement 1998


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(L-R) Jonathan Powell, Monica McWilliams, Lord John Alderdice, Seamus Mallon, Lord David Trimble, Bertie Ahern, Sir Reg Empey, Senator George J. Mitchell, Paul Murphy and Gerry Adams pose for a photo on the 20th Anniversary of the signing of The Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement was signed on this day 20 years ago. Northern Ireland’s present devolved system of government is based on this agreement and was a major part of the 1990’s peace process. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Good Friday Agreement 20th anniversary AIWA! NO!

The Belfast Agreement is also known as the Good Friday Agreement, because it was reached on Good Friday, 10 April 1998.

It was a peace agreement between the British and Irish governments, and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, on how Northern Ireland should be governed. The talks leading to the Agreement addressed issues which had caused conflict during previous decades. The aim was establishing a new, devolved government for Northern Ireland in which unionists and nationalists would share power.

Devolved Parliaments and Assemblies


On the constitutional question of whether Northern Ireland should remain in the UK or become part of a united Ireland, it was agreed that there would be no change without the consent of the majority. This is called the ‘principle of consent’. The majority opinion in the future could be tested by referendum.

The two main political parties to the Agreement were the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), led by David Trimble and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), led by John Hume.

The two leaders jointly won the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize.

Two teenagers arrested in the killing of journalist Lyra McKee

Other parties involved in reaching agreement included Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party and the Progressive Unionist Party.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which later became the largest unionist party, did not support the Agreement. It walked out of talks when Sinn Féin and loyalist parties joined because republican and loyalist paramilitary weapons had not been decommissioned.

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