I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized A Little More Than Religion

A Little More Than Religion

Mary Jones
The Good Friday Agreement, by Siobhán Fenton, Biteback Publishing, 320 pp, £12.99, ISBN: 978-1785903731 The author of this accessible, perhaps timely, publication was five years old when the agreement almost universally referenced as “The Good Friday Agreement” was signed in Belfast in April 1998. That year, as determined by the Gregorian calendar, the feast of Good Friday fell upon that date and an ideologically and historically charged euphemism emerged, full-formed and potently persuasive. An agreement was signed between two states – the United Kingdom, which had represented three countries in official union within a monarchy since 1800, and the Irish state, legally constituted as an independent state in 1922. In a detailed legal analysis of this agreement, Austen Morgan (2000) states that “The Northern Ireland Act (NIA) 1998 is the principal consequence of the Belfast Agreement” … and the agreement “has also spawned a number of subsidiary international agreements, which are of considerable legal significance”. This international agreement, or treaty, came into force on December 2nd, 1999, when power was devolved from the UK capital of London to Belfast, the principal city in Northern Ireland, the long-contested UK jurisdiction of six counties on the island of Ireland. Fenton recalls how the theatre of political settlement played out at the level of the domestic. “My parents recall with great distress going out to vote in the referendum … the intense anxiety and trepidation that followed … as they waited to see if this thing, this new ‘Good Friday Agreement’ experiment was really the end or merely another false start … to be followed by…more bloodshed.” In May 1998, the Belfast Agreement was legitimised in separate referendums across the island of Ireland and was passed in both jurisdictions. Fenton records a collective sense that “as the first elected politicians walked through the doors” of Stormont, “Northern Ireland … had its last chance at normality”. From Castle Buildings, filed by a journalist and recorded in The Irish Times on April 11th, 1998, a local broadcaster was quoted reflecting that “This really will be a Good Friday.” When Mo Mowlam, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, presented the Belfast Agreement to the British parliament on April 21st, she used the term “Good Friday Agreement”, an essentially “journalistic tag”, which may mark the first fall en route to a tale of misadventure, with an endnote of crucifixion. This book seeks to raise questions on “what peace we…

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