25 Years Of The Good Friday Agreement – Time To Make Poverty And Sectarianism History

To mark the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, People Before Profit have produced a special report of its impact on Northern society.

Copies of the report are available here.

In a statement, Shaun Harkin, a Derry City Councillor provides this brief introduction to the report. He says:

“The 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is a significant milestone. 

“The agreement ended the worst of the armed conflict that brought so much suffering during the previous three decades. The vast majority of people support the peace and oppose being dragged backwards. 

“However, the agreement promised to do much more than maintain peace. 

“The architects of the agreement claimed its outworking would deliver prosperity and eradicate sectarianism. 

“This hasn’t happened. Deprivation, poverty pay, and inequality are widespread and, in some ways, have worsened.

“Food banks are everywhere and the cost of living crisis has made many more households dependent on them. 

“Our public services, including the health service and the NI Housing Executive, have been intentionally run-down in order to facilitate privatisation and profiteering. 

“Sectarianism, rather than being rooted out, has been institutionalised through the North’s political structures, and rewarded. 

“For almost the entire period of the cost of living crisis the DUP has self-servingly used its communal veto to block the formation of a government and whipped-up sectarian division, choreographed with loyalist paramilitaries threatening mayhem. 

“The persistence of sectarianism, political dysfunction and inequality is why, despite much prompting and visits by high-level international dignitaries, the vast majority of people are in no mood to celebrate.

“Instead, resistance to pay cuts and wave after wave of Tory austerity has been to the fore. 

“It is also why increasing numbers of people are asking can the North’s political set-up be reformed.

“Tory contempt for the people of the North and wave after wave of Tory austerity is also why increasing numbers of people, from increasingly diverse backgrounds, are questioning the relationship with Westminster and are open to constitutional change.

“The maintenance of inequality has always required sectarian division. They go hand in hand. The Tories and elites dominating the North and the South here know divided working class communities are easier to control and exploit. 

“The two reactionary states formed on the island of Ireland more than a century ago have failed the vast majority of people. 

“The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement can’t undo the failed sectarian northern state. 

“The demand for peace more than 25 years ago was driven from below, not by the great and the good presently in the limelight. 

“The demand for an end to sectarianism and inequality is also coming from below, from those from all backgrounds and communities who don’t benefit from its maintenance and continuation.

“As socialists, we pin our hopes on working class communities across the North challenging engineered division to demand progress and change and uniting with working class communities across the island to demand a new Ireland founded on genuine equality, anti-sectarianism and peace.”