Sunday 22 October 2017

James Downey: Why slow learners should take note of Fr Alec's legacy

James Downey

James Downey

The Sunningdale Conference met on December 6, 1973. Several of the participants are still alive. One of them, Seamus Mallon, famously called the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 "Sunningdale for slow learners", and it is perhaps best remembered for that quip.

But as we approach its 40th anniversary, we can recall it, along with the events of a century ago in the more imposing "decade of commemorations", as part of a history with many dreadful mistakes and lost opportunities.

Before the conference, most of the terms of a Northern Ireland settlement had been implemented. Brian Faulkner led a coalition composed of the Ulster Unionist Party, the SDLP, and the Alliance Party.

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