Was The Good Friday Agreement A Referendum

The agreement consists of two related documents, both agreed on Good Friday, 10 April 1998 in Belfast: the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a referendum held in Northern Ireland on whether there was support for the Good Friday Agreement. The result was a majority (71.1%) for that. A simultaneous referendum in the Republic of Ireland brought an even larger majority (94.4%) for that. In the context of political violence during the riots, the agreement forced participants to find “exclusively democratic and peaceful means to resolve political differences.” This required two aspects: 19 The question of the Irish border after the referendum should be seen as an integral part of this phenomenon and not as a whole new one. The difficulty of finding an amicable solution to the Irish border problem is just another consequence of the sectarian polarization rooted in Northern Irish politics since 1998. Although there was a Community majority of 56% in Northern Ireland for remains and, although after the referendum the two sides openly agreed on the need to keep the border open, particularly for economic and commercial interests26, it proved absolutely impossible to transform this fragile consensus into a single long-term front between the parties and between the Communities on the issue of borders. The main obstacle to this front was the persistent divergence in the constitutional position of the border between the two sides of the denominational gap. After the Brexit referendum, Sinn Fein, followed by the SDLP, quickly called for a border investigation to revive Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. On the trade union side, the DUP and the UUP have loudly reaffirmed their call to remain an integral and undifferentiated part of the borderless United Kingdom in the Irish Sea. After more than twenty years of political cooperation between municipal elites in a power-sharing democracy in Northern Ireland, there has indeed been no real rapprochement between the two communities on the fundamental question of the constitutional status of the Irish border of division.

14 Therefore, the GFA, as a common and reciprocal redefinition of British and Irish public sovereignty over Northern Ireland, was a remarkably incomplete and unfinished constitutional process. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom and its border problem in Ireland show that the 1998 agreement did not go far enough to provide for an explicit, indisputable and constitutional (new) definition of the Dublin and London obligations as the sovereign guarantee of the agreement. As part of the agreement, it was proposed to build on the existing Inter-Parliamentary Commission in English-Irish. Prior to the agreement, the body was composed only of parliamentarians from the British and Irish assemblies. In 2001, as proposed by the agreement, it was extended to include parliamentarians of all members of the Anglo-Irish Council.