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09 april, 2021
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Good Friday Agreement Negotiation

In a major compromise, the parties agreed on measures to promote the Irish language, which trade unionists have long opposed to the fear that it will increase nationalist and republican culture to the detriment of their own. In return, the agreement contained provisions to promote Ulster-Scots, traditionally spoken by descendants of Protestants from Scotland to Northern Ireland. Negotiations were also reinforced by commitments in Dublin and London for increased funding for hospitals, schools and other social services in Northern Ireland. We both recognize that such a new agreement is feasible and viable only if it can deserve and enjoy the loyalty of the different traditions of this island, bringing diversity and ensuring national reconciliation.28 (emphasizing) The growing focus on autonomy as a means of protecting Unionist/Protestant interests in Northern Ireland has played an important role in the rise of David Trimble as the leader of the UUP. Although Trimble had a long history in trade union politics, he was largely overshadowed by other prominent UUP leaders, both unionist and constituency members. His involvement in the Drumcree Orange Order parade in 1995 pushed him to the top, this association helped to maintain his credibility with trade unionists who had to abandon the traditional “red lines” during the negotiations, including participation in talks with Sinn Fein in 1997 without prior decommissioning and finally the signing of the 1998 agreement without decommissioning. Although Trimble won a majority of his party`s board in favour of the agreement, the decision caused a split within the UUP and ultimately contributed to the UUP`s electoral eclipse by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Thatcher`s successor, John Major, was less personally linked to unionism and some attribute to him the fact that he made the important decisions – including the Downing Street Declaration and the Anglo-Irish Framework Document51 – that eventually led to the 1998 peace agreement. Mr Major has undoubtedly shown considerable courage in getting in touch with his Irish counterparts (and indirectly with the IRA). But these actions have amplified the suspicions of trade unionists, and Major`s dependence on trade union votes, because he maintained his parliamentary majority, has reduced his room for manoeuvre, which has led him to point out the lasting cessation of violence and the prior decommissioning of weapons as preconditions for the opening of the Sinn Fein peace talks, tests that have almost brought the process to a standstill. These themes – parades, flags and the legacy of the past – were negotiated in 2013 under the chairmanship of Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Meghan L. O`Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and now on the CFR board.

The talks involving the five main political parties were not agreed upon, although many of these proposals – including the creation of a historic investigation unit to investigate unsolved deaths during the conflict and a commission to help victims obtain information about the deaths of their loved ones – were a large part of the Stormont House agreement reached in 2014.

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