Sunday 22 April 2018

North's political structure is not set in stone

The Good Friday Agreement is a political arrangement that needs unsentimental scrutiny, just like any other

HISTORY: Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Prime Minister Tony Blair at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement last week at Queen’s University in Belfast
HISTORY: Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Prime Minister Tony Blair at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement last week at Queen’s University in Belfast
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

The Good Friday Agreement, signed 20 years ago last week, was a remarkable achievement in many ways. The many people who worked so hard on it fully deserve the recognition they have received over the past week.

But feelings of goodwill towards its signatories should not prevent what is, ultimately, a policy instrument being subject to unsentimental scrutiny, both constructive and critical. All political structures and arrangements need to be coldly assessed on the basis of their efficacy. Consideration of whether they have delivered as promised is needed, along with an assessment of whether alternatives were, or are, available.

Before looking at those questions, it is worth clarifying some aspects of the discussion: between means and ends; between causes and effects; and, closely related, between the broader peace process on the one hand and the GFA on the other.

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