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Good Friday Agreement – 20 Years On

What does the Good Friday Agreement mean to you? For a large part of the population, on both sides of the border, it means very little, mainly due to their age. Anyone under the age of 26 or 27 would have no concept of what it was like before 1998: the tension, the bombs and border checkpoints.

You could forgive them for wondering what all the fuss is about as we recognise the 20th anniversary of the Agreement, an agreement and coming together of sworn enemies to bring about a peace which has lasted all this years and against all the odds. To them, the current fragility of the Good Friday Agreement is just another political issue being ignored by overpaid, underworked and careless buffoons who are supposed to be running the devolved government in Stormont.

In fact, for many of them, politics doesn’t even feature on their radars, exactly for the main reason why the Agreement was successful in the first place: they grew up in peaceful times. This is why, more than ever before, it’s important not to allow the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement to disappear silently into the night amidst the maelstrom of rising global nationalism, Brexit and whatever crazy plans the Trump administration have for the world.

We’re only a small little island in the grand scheme of things but one that suffered horribly for 30 years from the late 1960’s. Even if some would say that suffering lasted 800 years, we should remain focussed on the here and now and on revitalising the peace process. As they old saying goes: “those who do not heed the mistakes of history, are doomed to repeat them”.

We may not have large amounts of political sway on the global stage when it comes to major political issues but we have control over our own destiny should our elected officials have the courage and balls to look beyond their petty quibbles and take the necessary steps to move forward.

I look at my two kids and worry what the future holds for them. They do not know what it feels like to fear walking past an area or street where at any given moment they could be attacked or blown up. Or live in an area where their neighbours have to look under their cars before going anywhere.

The cowardice of the Northern Ireland Assembly coupled with the brazen recklessness of the Brexiteers is endangering peace on this island. A fire should be lit under the former and the fire extinguished of the latter before complete disenfranchisement take hold. What happens then is something our kids should not have to bear the consequences of.

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