US President Joe Biden will be in Northern Ireland this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The agreement which was voted for by people in Northern Ireland, helped spark the end of the Troubles, a thirty year period of conflict in Northern Ireland which claimed an estimated 3,600 lives. It also helped pave the way for the power-sharing executive at Stormont.
President Biden will arrive in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (April 11), where he will deliver a key speech at the newly opened Ulster University campus in Belfast. Whilst former president Bill Clinton and his wife, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton are expected to also attend an event to mark the anniversary at Queen’s University this week.
The anniversary comes after the creation of the Windsor Framework, which was finalised in February 2023, with hopes it will help restore power sharing in Stormont. The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since February 2022, after former DUP First Minister Paul Givan stepped down in protest over the Northern Ireland protocol.The protocol was implemented to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit.
Northern Ireland has been stuck in a political deadlock ever since, with a decision from the DUP on the Windsor Framework expected to be revealed soon. So, what is the Good Friday Agreement and what where the Troubles? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the Good Friday Agreement?
The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on 10 April 1998. It was a deal between the British and Irish governments and political parties in Northern Ireland on how Northern Ireland should be governed.
The main aim of the Good Friday Agreement was to establish a new devolved government in which Unionists and Nationalists jointly shared power together. It addressed the issues that had led to Northern Ireland’s conflict known as the Troubles and paved the way for peace in the region.
What were the Troubles?
The Troubles were a period of conflict in Northern Ireland which spanned from 1968 to 1998. Northern Ireland was created in 1921 after the partition of Ireland. It was made up of a Unionist community that wanted to stay a part of the United Kingdom and a Nationalist community, who wanted to unify with Ireland. Unrest began in 1968 after the Unionist government tried to suppress civil rights protests by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association who were protesting against the discrimination of Nationalist communities. The conflict lasted thirty years, with 3,600 people losing their lives and 30,000 people being left wounded.
When was the Good Friday Agreement signed?
The Good Friday Agreement was signed on 10 April 1998, which happened to be Good Friday. It was signed by the main political parties of the time, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), did not sign or support the Good Friday Agreement.
When is the 25th anniversary?
The 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will take place on 10 April 2023, which is Easter Monday. However, events to celebrate the anniversary are taking place across Northern Ireland from Good Friday (April ) until the following week.
When will President Biden visit Northern Ireland?
The US President Joe Biden will be visiting Northern Ireland and Ireland this week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The White House confirmed the news in a statement last week, stating he would be in the UK and Ireland from April 11 to April 14. Planned events include a key speech at the newly opened Ulster University campus, walkabouts in Dundalk and Carlingford and meeting the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish President, Michael D. Higgins.