The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, is a peace agreement signed on April 10, 1998, that put an end to decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The agreement established a power-sharing assembly, cross-border institutions, and a commitment to the principle of consent, which means that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom or unify with the Republic of Ireland only if a majority of its citizens vote for it.
Brexit, the UK`s withdrawal from the European Union, has raised many questions about how it will affect the Good Friday Agreement. Here are some of the main issues.
The most pressing concern is the issue of border control between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU. The Good Friday Agreement removed the hard border, or physical barriers, between the two, which played a significant role in reducing the sectarian tensions. However, Brexit may reverse that progress and necessitate a hard border, which could lead to an increase in conflict.
The Good Friday Agreement opened up new trade opportunities on the island of Ireland and facilitated the free movement of goods and people. However, since Brexit, the UK has left the EU Customs Union and Single Market, which has led to new customs regulations and additional paperwork. These changes could impact cross-border trade and undermine the Good Friday Agreement`s economic benefits.
The Good Friday Agreement recognised the identities of the people of Northern Ireland, acknowledging both their British and Irish heritage. Brexit has brought identity issues to the fore, with some unionists in Northern Ireland concerned about being cut off from the rest of the UK and some nationalists worried about being cut off from the Republic of Ireland. These concerns could lead to increased tensions and undermine the Agreement`s commitment to respecting different identities.
The Good Friday Agreement established a power-sharing assembly in Northern Ireland, which has been critical in maintaining political stability in the region. However, Brexit`s impact on the political landscape of Northern Ireland has been significant, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) supporting Brexit while Sinn Féin opposing it. This divide has led to a deadlock in the power-sharing assembly, threatening the Agreement`s core principles of democratic participation and partnership.
In conclusion, Brexit`s impact on the Good Friday Agreement is complex and multifaceted. Its effects could undermine the progress made towards peace and stability in Northern Ireland. Therefore, it is essential to address these issues and ensure that the Agreement`s principles are upheld during the Brexit process.