Key Features of the Good Friday Agreement
Unfortunately, it was not possible to reach an agreement on the implementation of the provisions of the Stormont House agreement dealing with the legacy of the past within the deadline of the Fresh Start talks. The Irish and British Governments have committed to continue work on this issue in order to create an agreed basis for the creation of the new institutional framework to deal with the past under the Stormont House Agreement. As part of the agreement, the British Parliament repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (which had established Northern Ireland, divided Ireland and claimed a territorial claim over all of Ireland) and the people of the Republic of Ireland amended Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland, which affirmed a territorial claim over Northern Ireland. The agreement contained a complex set of provisions covering a number of areas, including: issues of sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, weapons dismantling, demilitarization, the judiciary and law enforcement were at the heart of the agreement. The agreement was reached between the British and Irish governments and eight political parties or groups in Northern Ireland. Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the beginning of the 20th century, and two small parties associated with loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA)). Two were commonly referred to as nationalists: the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the Republican Party linked to the Provisional Irish Republican Army.   Regardless of these rival traditions, there were two other assembly parties, the Inter-Community Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition. There was also the Labour Coalition. U.S.
Senator George J. Mitchell was sent by U.S. President Bill Clinton to chair talks between parties and groups.  During negotiations on the UK`s planned withdrawal from the European Union in 2019, the EU prepared a position paper on its concerns about the UK`s support for the Good Friday Agreement during Brexit. The position paper covers issues such as the avoidance of a hard border, North-South cooperation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the birthright of all northern Irish residents (as defined in the agreement) and the common travel area.   Anyone born in Northern Ireland and therefore entitled to an Irish passport under the Good Friday Agreement can retain EU citizenship even after Brexit.  Under the European Union`s Brexit negotiating directives, the UK was asked to convince other EU members that these issues had been raised in order to enter the second phase of Brexit negotiations. These include the dismantling of paramilitaries, police reform and the standardisation of Northern Ireland. The direct London regime ended in Northern Ireland when power was formally transferred to the new Northern Ireland Assembly, the North-South Council of Ministers and the British-Irish Council when the regulations entering into force of the British-Irish Agreement entered into force on 2 December 1999.    Article 4(2) of the United Kingdom-Ireland Agreement (Agreement between the British and Irish Governments implementing the Belfast Agreement) required both governments to notify each other in writing that the conditions for the entry into force of the United Kingdom-Ireland Agreement were fulfilled. Entry into force should take place upon receipt of the last of the two communications.
 The British government agreed to attend a televised ceremony at Iveagh House in Dublin, the Irish Foreign Office. Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, attended early in the morning of 2 December 1999. He exchanged views with David Andrews, Ireland`s foreign minister. Shortly after the ceremony, at 10.30.m., the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, signed the declaration formally amending Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution. He then informed Dáil that the British-Irish Agreement had entered into force (including certain agreements additional to the Belfast Agreement).   The IRA renewed its ceasefire on July 20, 1997, paving the way for sinn féin`s inclusion in the bipartisan talks that had begun under Mitchell`s presidency. However, the issue of dismantling remained and the British and Irish governments tried to obscure the issue rather than let it derail the process again. This led to Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leaving the talks and never returning.
The DUP rejected the idea of making concessions to Northern Ireland`s constitutional position or negotiating with Sinn Féin, which it considered terrorist. Although deeply dissatisfied, the more moderate UUP remained in the talks. Given the DUP`s stated desire to break off talks, Mitchell later wrote in his memoirs that their decision to withdraw actually helped reach an agreement. However, this is expected to have a lasting impact on Northern Ireland`s policy, as the DUP`s opposition to the Good Friday Agreement has seriously hampered its implementation. Sinn Féin entered the multi-party talks on 15 September 1997 after signing the Mitchell Principles. In 2010, the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement transferred police and judicial powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which began later that year. It also included an agreement on the controversial parades that had led to ongoing conflicts between communities. The agreement consists of two interconnected documents, both of which were agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998: the British Government has practically fallen out of the equation and neither the British Parliament nor the people have the right, under this agreement, to hinder the achievement of Irish unity if it had the consent of the peoples of the north and south.
Our nation is and remains a nation with 32 counties. Antrim and Down are and will remain as much a part of Ireland as any county in the south.  The agreement establishes a framework for the establishment and number of facilities in three “policy areas”. The agreement reaffirms the commitment to “mutual respect, civil rights and religious freedoms of all members of the community.” The multi-party agreement recognised “the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance with regard to linguistic diversity”, in particular with regard to the Irish language, Ulster Scots and the languages of other ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland, “all of which are part of the cultural richness of the island of Ireland”. The participants in the agreement were two sovereign states (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland) with armed and police forces involved in the unrest. Two political parties, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), were linked to paramilitary organisations: the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) respectively. The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), which was linked to the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had withdrawn from the talks three months earlier. The overall result of these problems was to damage trade unionists` confidence in the agreement, which was exploited by the anti-deal DUP, which eventually overtook the pro-deal Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the 2003 general election.