Wednesday 21 February 2018

Tourism is a great example of economic peace dividend

Titanic Belfast attracts visitors from all over the world
Titanic Belfast attracts visitors from all over the world
Liz O'Donnell

Liz O'Donnell

In the final days of negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there was a frantic scramble to meet the deadline set by talks chairman Senator George Mitchell. Because the various issues were being discussed across different strands, often contemporaneously, the challenge was to commit them all to a seamless interlocking document.

Of the three key strands, strand two - the North-South Ministerial Council to develop co-operation between both parts of Ireland - was of critical importance to the Irish Government. The all-island piece was central for nationalists and it had to be meaningful and sellable to the electorate, to compensate for withdrawing the territorial claim to Northern Ireland. This could only be done by a referendum post agreement. This constitutional claim to the six counties had been an article of political faith and ideology of all nationalist parties. Earlier, talks had broken down on whether an Irish government "could" or "would "consider removal of the relevant articles (two and three). But as the toll of lives lost grew over a 30-year conflict, those with moderate views began to embrace the principle of consent.

That principle was that, for now, the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland would remain within the United Kingdom unless and until the citizens of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both vote for a united Ireland. So the constitutional future of Northern Ireland lies with the people of Northern Ireland.

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