The Good Friday Agreement ended the bitter conflict, but failed to eliminate the poison of paramilitarism. In the latest Forward Together podcast interview recorded before the loyalist street riots protesting against the Brexit Protocol and the latest paramilitary shootings in Derry, Duncan Morrow considers the limitations of the GFA. Northern Ireland remains overshadowed by paramilitaries that claim a political motivation, yet are engaged in criminal enterprises that include the drug trade, protection rackets and loan sharking.
Can the GFA now be amended, or would that unpick the essential elements of the agreement, wonders Duncan. But the absence of an effective remedy for paramilitaries is not the only weakness of the GFA, which arguably ingrained the concept of Northern Ireland consisting of two, opposed, communities and traditions. That ignores the growing part of our society that does not identify as either unionist or nationalist/republican.
Duncan is a social policy professor, lecturer in politics and director of community engagement at Ulster University and for ten years was chief executive of the Community Relations Council. He has been an election candidate for the Alliance Party. The interview with Duncan can be listened to here.
The Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme.
Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects and is Parliamentary Assistant to Sinead McLaughlin MLA, the SDLP’s economy spokesperson.